From the time John Edwards entered the 2004 presidential race, I liked his wife, Elizabeth.  Maybe it was because she was a bit chubby, and I could relate to that.  (You can view my weight loss progress at my other blog, Reformed Chocoholic.)  Maybe it was because she looked like a great mom.  She just looked so approachable.  Maybe it was because she spoke so candidly on the death of her son, Wade, and I could relate because I lost my father at a young age.

I never met Elizabeth Edwards in person, but I admired her as a public figure; I admired the grace with which she dealt with adversity, and she certainly had alot of adversity to overcome.  When her cancer was announced, I felt sure she would overcome it.  When it was announced that it was back in 2007, I worried for her young children.

My dad died when I was only 15 and my brother was 8.  I know what it is like to lose a parent at a young age.  Now that I am the parent, I worry about leaving my children.  I want to have the chance to raise them to adulthood.  I watched Elizabeth Edwards carefully as she grappled with her diagnosis.  I took guidance from her.  What I took from her struggle is that life is short; it is important to live the best life you can every single day because you never know what day will be your last.

Long term readers of this blog know that I have struggled with the decision of  quitting my job permanently.  (I am currently on a very generous 16 month leave of absence.)  For some time now, my job has not been fulfilling.  It has been, quite simply, a paycheck.  A good paycheck, but only a paycheck. 

Since I was a little girl, my goal was to be a stay-at-home mom at least while my kids were little.  My mom was able to stay home with me and my brother, and I loved that she was always there for us.  I want to be able to spend the days with my kids, teaching them, watching them experience their milestones, caring for them.

When my son was born, I returned to work when he was only 10 weeks old.  I struggled to juggle caring for him, working, and taking care of the home.  I tried to deal with my feelings of guilt because I only wanted to be home with him, but my husband was persuing a Ph.D. program and could not support us. 

When my second child was born, I was lucky to be able to secure a 10 month leave of absence.  I loved being home with her!  Yet I had to go back to work because we needed the money, in part because of dumb financial decisions we have made.  My struggle became greater.  Now, once again, I am on a leave of absence, and once again I will have to decide whether to return to work or stay home.

This time, though, I know there will be no more babies for us.  This is it.  My little ones are 2 and 7 months; if I want to stay home during their formative years, I must do it now.  In addition, I am staring at 40; I know life if finite.  Do I really want to keep working just for a paycheck?  Or do I want to do what I have always dreamed–stay home with my kids when they are little, even if it means a financial sacrifice?  My husband is now almost done with his program.  He should be able to mostly support us; I will need to provide some supplemental income.

It is scary to think about letting my job go.  My dad was unemployed for nearly 2 years in the ’80s, and I remember the fear, the scarecity of food, the arguments about the lack of money.  It is not something I willingly want to put my family through, yet I don’t want to pay most of my salary to send my little ones to daycare when I don’t care for my job and just want to be home with them.

Now is the time for decisions, for making changes so I can stay home.  Elizabeth Edwards leaves behind a 10 year old and a 12 year old.  Life is short.  I want to fulfill my childhood dream of staying home.  I want to care for my children and nurture them.  The time for change has come.

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