Today is the day that I’m writing and sending my resignation letter to my full-time employer. I will offer my services through the end of the month, and then after that, I am completely freelance, accepting scraps of work and contract projects as they come, as well as setting up a thin, resume website with a basic price point for a few basic services.
It will be the first time I am not working full time since June 28, 1999, the day before I started working at Ahmis Communications. The plan was that I would work full time until the end of the year, and quit at the time that my wife went back to work after her maternity leave. But, things have started to move rapidly in one clear direction, and I can see that I am burning a lot of my own free time on my employer’s dime, while still halfheartedly manning a home office desk trying to stay focused on caring about the market that they serve.
To an outsider’s ears, it sounds completely crazy: a man is quitting his full-time job and will stop working for the company about a month or so before his first child arrives. Even in today’s economy, which is much better than it has been for a long time, it sounds like I am crazy or having a bad case of selfishness flare up right before baby is born. The truth is pretty far from what an outsider (ie, my father and in-laws plus any random stranger) might think.
The idea of continuing to work from home full time after baby arrives seems ridiculous to me. About 98% of the time that I’ve worked in this current position, I could get away with having a baby to tend to and do my work. My work hours are not carefully monitored–as long as I am getting the work done by the deadline dates, they don’t seem to care most of the time if I am sitting at my desk from 8-5 or not. However, when there is a weekly meeting or an urgent call about something, I am expected to be there, and can’t decline and say I’ll be free in maybe an hour or so after baby goes back to sleep. Of course, if I were to demand the kind of flexibility to do that, I would be getting to do something so many working parents do not get to do.
In short, it doesn’t seem fair to a new child to put them in daycare when you have a parent who can theoretically be at home with the child to tend to its needs throughout the day. So, my point is that I feel I would be more selfish to keep a full-time job. The development of my little boy’s intellect and character during his pre-K years is of far more importance to me than my pride as being the top breadwinner, the freedom the extra money would allow us, and the opinions of people “out there.” Even in the best daycare in the world, my young son would be receiving far less attention than he will be.
So, the plan is to put baby first, and work on my freelance business and writing of the great novel while baby is asleep and mother is at home. Since I’ve never done anything like this before, I am unsure of how it will work. It could be just another ill-conceived plan of mine, or I could get a job offer to work somewhere full time that is just too good to pass up, and then we would have to accept a more traditional arrangement, with wife quitting her job to stay home.
Of course, I have my doubts. There is less money in the bank than I’d like there to be, but I doubt there will be a day in my life when that isn’t true. I’ve been in the comfortable arms of the 8-5 office employer for over 15 years now, even when I’ve come to work almost completely at home office. The notion of setting out on my own is a scary one–will I end up pooping away the time I have before baby comes, and find myself frantic and stressed and in a place where I take some job that pays so much less and requires so much more from me?