Long story short, I knew I had to make a change. I just didn't have a plan. After three solid weeks of squirming with uncertainty and trying out many different scenarios in my mind, I think I am making headway. I am handing in my notice at the end of today. I am winding up my daycare and moving on.
I'm not jumping into this transition. I will wind things up by the year's end. I have four months to get used to the idea. Four months to fine tune "what happens next". I like to hold onto the illusion I have a modicum of control over my fate but in reality, I am taking a leap of faith. I have a plan. I just have to put my trust in it and I'm not quite there yet.
So many ideas have wafted in, out and through this tired little brain of mine.
When I last wrote here three weeks ago, I knew with a certainty I haven't felt in a very long time, that I had to give up my daycare. I knew it. I had no idea what to do next nor did I want to push the idea. A year's leave of absence was my plan. I would do whatever it took to quit one job without leaping blindly into the next. My year of jumping desperately from one job to the next and barely holding on taught me I need to move cautiously. No leaping before I looked. That was all I knew for sure.
So I set the wheels in motion and signed the papers to start withdrawing from my pension fund. Not a wise financial move. I know this. But you weren't inside my head. It was dark and scary in there. I knew I needed a safe place to fall and knowing I had a little nest egg I could draw on was all I could hold onto for consolation. I knew I could not continue doing what I was doing but the idea of taking on a brand new job outside of our home paralyzed me. I had to take a step in a forward direction so I took it.
Then my son dropped by and talked with me. He stayed and talked until I stopped feeling so desperate. The more I talked, the freer my thoughts flowed. I opened my mouth and the words I planned to say didn't come out. Instead (I have no idea how this happened, because it was without forethought) I heard myself say "Maybe I should contact my former employer [of twenty years] and see if they would consider rehiring me". It was as if the truth was just spoken. The world stopped spinning for a millisecond until I heard my son reply, "I think you may be onto something ..."
I woke up the next morning feeling like the weight of the world fell off my shoulders. I cancelled my pension withdrawal immediately. I had a plan. It wasn't a terrifying one. It was scary enough but I thought I could do it. I called my mom and told her I finally felt like I was on holidays. I felt energized and my energy is a rare resource these days so I cautioned her that I was considering coming out to see her the second week of my holiday instead of "that day".
I went about "that day" and all was well. I did laundry and went through the motions of preparing myself to leave for Mom's later that day but I truly believed I would stay home and simply revel in the fact that my life was in order, I would pick up "holiday groceries" on my way home then settle in for a few productive days at home.
Then I got the call. Mom broke her wrist and was in the hospital. My plans changed on a dime and my sisters joined me for the ride. Mom said she didn't need anyone to come out but not one of us regrets changing our plans midstream and following the path we were meant to take.
So many thoughts come to mind when I think of Mom living on her own, with my brother being the only one who lives close by. Mom is fiercely independent but this accidental fall was an eye opener. She was so lucky in the whole scheme of things but this inconvenient breakage of a bone has severely hampered her independent spirit.
I woke up the second morning we were there "knowing" what I wanted and was perfectly capable of doing. I wanted to pack up everything and move out to Mom's. I could be as quiet a presence as she wanted me to be but I could be there. I could take care of little things, I could drive her where she wanted to go and I could be company when her days felt too quiet. I could do this. With one minor hiccup. I still happen to have one dependent child and two cats at home. This hiccup turned into a road block I couldn't overcome.
So I ended my holidays knowing little more than I knew before they began. I knew I had come to the end of the line here in my daycare world but I was terrified to make a move to change it. I thought I could push through if I didn't push what I felt capable of doing. I watched my friend sit among her three daycare charges when I went to see her and I admired her calm demeanor. Her daycare charges picked up on her energy and they were so good, so calm and so easy to be around. "I can do this!" I told myself all last week. I was wrong.
I gave the week the best shot I knew how to give. One of my daycare families gave me notice they would be done at the end of the month and I tried to envision the personalities I would still have in my midst. I wanted to believe that without this "one" extra child, I would be capable of holding on and sticking it out. But when I recapped my remaining challenges in an early morning Saturday email I heard the truth. Again. I need to give up my daycare. For me, for the children I tend and for the sake of humanity. I have to quit.
So I unloaded my burdens on my bookkeeping boss when I went to work a few hours later and I think I have found a safe place to fall. At least during the transition out of daycare and back into the real world. She needs me to work far more than I am working now. At least two, maybe three days a week. But in the new year, she said she has full time work for me as she wraps up the "year end". This feels like the perfect solution for both of us. At least for now.
What is most important to me right now, is the ability to drop everything and run out to Mom's if the need arises. I was so relieved I could be so available during my holiday. I was exactly where I needed to be. I want to be that available on a permanent basis. Maybe I can't uproot my life and move out there, but I can shuffle my life around a bit and be "available".
It isn't the end all solution but it is enough to push me through this moment and give me the courage to hand in my notice today. I puttered around with a daycare newsletter most of yesterday. I will hand it out and talk to my parents at the end of today. It will be done.
"There is no easy way to say this, so I will just say it. I will be closing my daycare on December 23rd, what was scheduled to be my last day before Christmas holidays..."
Change is in the air. I hope it wafts gently through the days, weeks and months ahead and I land safely on the ground when the dust settles. The last time I tried this it was a bit more like a plow wind, wreaking destruction along its path. I must have faith that I learned some valuable lessons along the way and though I'm sure this path will be windy at times, I do see a port in the storm somewhere in my distant future. I'll just keep taking one step in front of the other and try to enjoy the journey.