First of all, I don't want to make anyone feel bad- The only real reason we are able to pull off the stay at home thing financially is because Rob's very normal first year professor's salary stretches a whole lot further in China. Second, my income is quite generous by cultural standards, but still just a fraction of what could be considered a "second income" so we're not losing out on a lot. Third, the cost of having a kid over here is out of pocket doable; not cheap, but not unmanageable- my access to benefits was only linked to my working up until birth and coming back quickly afterward. The healthcare package and coverage was clear within the structures of very standard Chinese public hospital care, which isn't going to be a legitimate option for us since only the "VIP" services, which aren't covered, offer English language assistance reliably. And homegirl isn't brave enough to chance midnight labor at a hospital with no English speakers to call.
So, what do I gain by saying Goodbye to my tenure as an administrator? Big big big deal gain is that I'll have an available and open schedule. Time to actually attend Expat mom groups to start making friends and gaining intel on how having a kid over here works, getting someone's used German diaper bag for a major discount, and spending time with ladies and kids who will become our community for the next few years. I've already met a few people just from skipping one day of work to go to a mom group before my doctors appointment and got clued into a few seminars that I'll be going to to learn more about this whole mommyhood thing. I'll also have weekday free time to go to Shanghai to shop, rather than spend precious weekends fighting the crowds. There's one Shanghai H&M with a maternity section and I don't fit into any of my pants anymore, so it's an urgent and necessary trip. Same goes for some Ikea shopping, and Rob can't stand the Sunday crowds. Also, for the first time ever in their lives, my critters can get used to a schedule where they don't get crated for a whole workday. And the poor recovering beagle can get some beautiful springtime day muscle building walks before the heat of summer and inconvenience of a human sibling ruins his chances for some TLC.
But, I do work with some lovely people and have really enjoyed flexing my meticulous organization and protocol creating muscles to help the new School of Music get off the ground. It's a wise step to help me get into the headspace of this next phase for our family since I'm lousy at work/life balance and establishing boundaries, but I step away with a bit of sadness and a little "oh my gosh, how am I really going to fill my time?!" fear. Stay at home mommas- how did you feel when you made the choice to stop working and how on earth did you cope with the post-honeymoon "Freeeeedom!" jolt of reality that comes with stay at home routines?