Why I quit the corporate world.

And decided to stay home as a full time Mom

Ten years ago when my daughter was born, I knew the day would come when I would have to be home with her all the time. The days of shuttling her to a babysitter, daycare and after-school programs would be over. She would need me more than ever, and hopefully, my husband and I would be in a position where we could afford for me to stay home.


When I finally could quit my job, it was prompted more by stress than anything else but then I recalled my earlier revelation. Was it in the back of my mind all these years, a trigger just waiting to be released when the time was right?


As news of my “early retirement” spread, my daughter’s teachers reinforced what intuition had told me earlier. These are the years she will need me most; the years leading up to and through middle school, the teen years of becoming a young adult. I will admit raising a daughter these days is not like raising a son. Call me sexist, call me a mom.


So, this is my new job and the responsibilities are awesome. There is making time to play – neither my daughter nor I have outgrown the swings – yet, there is homework to do and redo, quizzes and tests to help prepare for and, my favorite part, listening to the telling of the day’s stories. Someone needs to be there, not just some of the time, but all of the time.


This is very much a full-time job. It is a lot of work to love and raise a child, to listen and learn with them. Grateful is the word that stays with me. I can’t believe I waited so long. I can’t believe I am getting this chance.


Sleep seems elusive these days, but I have a newfound energy that doesn’t need to be fueled by a restful eight hours. It’s happiness. It’s life without stress. At forty-nine, for the first time in my life, I am in full-time mothering mode.


This new job is much different than my old one. With that job, I commuted nearly three or more hours every day and had to be “on” and fresh with advertising campaigns and new product ideas for well-known national brands. A good night’s sleep was a must. And after a long day there was little patience left to do homework. Somehow it got done, but I wasn’t my best. My new job has made me different, more patient, or, as my daughter says, I don’t yell as much.


As the months pass, I realize this is a big transition, but I am getting used to my new life in blue jeans and slip-on boots, instead of pantyhose and pumps. At times I can’t help but wonder what happened to the woman I used to be, the one who was the executive and lived in a different skin than the one I am in now. She was in control, and had power and money.


She was good at what she did but I just couldn’t be her anymore. It was time for a new job, one that I had applied for but never had filled full time – not in the months of nursing a baby or walking the floors to calm night cries or racing to see my oldest child get off the school bus for the first time only to have to race back to work. I didn’t have the chance to be there all the time for my son.


I was working first, mom second and I liked it. I liked working and felt I was better at mothering because of it. That was most likely true for then, but not for now. Maybe it’s age, maybe I have matured, but I can’t help but wonder how did I get it so backwards?


Crashing on the couch some days seems like a good idea, but there is no indulging that wish. I can count on one hand the number of times I have stopped to watch Oprah. No, this new life is just too busy. This isn’t like vacation. There is a structure to the day, the business of keeping house, planning dinner, doing bills, running back and forth to my daughter’s school and actually making non-business appointments that I can keep.


When I was a kid, most of the moms stayed home, but my memories of what they were like are different from what I am experiencing. Maybe it’s because I know I have choices and I choose this.


I am not used to watching the sun set over my backyard on a Wednesday and can’t believe the color show I am privileged to view; some days it is spectacular. I compare it to the view from my old office, secluded in a corner, bright and open, surrounded by windows. But as it grew dark, the warmth from the sun would be gone, and all that was left were car lights twinkling from the nearby highway as people made their way back home. Eventually, I would join them.


I turn on the television in the den and it emits a glow, the only light in the room, before I finally switch on the lamp. I am preparing the house for evening, making sure there is food cooking and warmth all around. It is part of my new job and it is now a ritual for me, one that I enjoy. Amazed at how fast a day can pass, 3 o’clock arrives, and my daughter gets home from school. Where does the time go? At least now I can ask that question and know I was right here all the while, counting those minutes. Waiting and watching and working my new job.


Jean Campbell Galli is a mother of two who lives with her family in Orange