The Making of a Director of Household

 

I had the perfect boss, full benefits, an impressive job title – and I quit.

The year was 2010, a twenty-something, anxiety prone young woman from suburbia made the 1.5 hour trek to a tall, gray Washington, D.C. office building to begin her first post-college job. She attempted to mimic a confident career woman as she made her way to the lobby security desk and informed those seated there that it was her first day. They looked at her with blank stares. Her face flushed. Just as she worked up the nerve to repeat herself, an HR lady brushed passed and remarked “You’re too early” in an overly hostile tone. “Don’t let her in!” she barked towards the stony faced security guards, as she disappeared behind a secure, employee-pass enabled door.

The baffled young woman fell into her default awkward mode and backed away from the security desk slowly, trying to figure out her next move. Out of the corner of her eye she spotted a wooden structure that resembled an absurdly large bench. She sat, positioned her body away from the security desk and waited, thinking “…but I thought you only get in trouble if you’re late to work?” Twenty uncomfortable minutes passed until the stern looking woman reappeared, “Come on” she said, as she rolled her eyes.

Office Job Lifestyle

 

“[I] went to the break room to microwave my lunch at 11:15 a.m., in hopes that nobody would be in there so I wouldn’t have to choose between avoiding eye contact or trying to make conversation.”

Thus, my six years climbing the traditional career ladder began. I worked hard, became close with some of my colleagues, and went to the break room to microwave my lunch at 11:15 a.m., in hopes that nobody would be in there so I wouldn’t have to choose between avoiding eye contact or trying to make conversation. There were some days when I came home elated at the praise I had received for work well done and others when I sobbed uncontrollably telling my husband how much my boss hated me and how I would surely be fired. By year six, I found myself in a great position with a wonderful and encouraging supervisor, primed to continue my office job lifestyle for decades to come.

My day-to-day life was acceptable, sometimes even pleasant. I was quite fortunate and I felt grateful for what I had. I also felt overcome with anxiety. Beyond work and sleep, commuting, house chores, and errands took up most of my time. Even so, being the daughter of hard-working immigrant parents, I was resigned to keeping my head down and letting the years pass me by, with the brief respite of paid vacation to see me through to retirement age. My thoughtful and supportive husband had other ideas. His newly established business, which he ran from our kitchen table, was doing really well and his “if not now, when?” attitude was undeniably appealing. He thought it would be a great idea for me to leave my relatively stable salaried job (with accompanying insurance and retirement benefits) to stay at home and work part-time with him and the rest of the time on whatever I wanted to. I thought he was crazy.

What Would My Job Title Be?

 

“[I] dreamed of what it would be like to not be jolted awake from a peaceful sleep every morning by the vulgar sound of an alarm.”

In the D.C. area, your job defines who you are. When I meet someone new, I am asked “what do you do?” immediately after sharing my name. What would my job title be if I decided to swerve onto this untraditional path? How would I describe myself? Over a few weeks of thinking over this new possibility, I noticed that I wasn’t at all worried about missing the actual work I was doing at my current job or leaving the career I was building. My main concern was what others would think of me and my decision. I was fearful of the judgement of people who barely knew me.

I knew I would be happier having a more flexible schedule, being able to spend more time with loved ones, and dedicating my days to things I really wanted to accomplish. I wanted to help my husband grow his firm and take charge of our personal and business finances. I had a great desire to make my house feel more like a home and I wanted time to read more and create things. In the spirit of keeping things real, I also dreamed of what it would be like to not be jolted awake from a peaceful sleep every morning by the vulgar sound of an alarm. I fantasized about going grocery shopping on a weekday morning, walking peacefully through each aisle, and then driving back home without encountering even a smidgen of traffic. I imagined taking my dog for a long walk every afternoon.

My very fortunate circumstances are not lost upon me. My dilemma was choosing between staying in my fairly cushy job or working with my husband to create our dream life. Poor me. However, I do think a lot of women find themselves in similar situations and feel conflicted about whether to focus on the life they truly want or the life that society tells them they should want. I chose what I really wanted: a home life. With my new job has come a large amount of responsibilities, spanning various disciplines. I’m learning as I go and every week is different than the last. As for my new job title, I found Director of Household fitting.