The Gray Space

19 Apr

I feel like I’m living life in a gray space. An intermediary space. Ever since we made the decision for me to leave my job at the library and stay at home with the baby, I’ve been going through my normal routine with only half of my brain engaged. Part of me is already making plans, updating the etsy shop, and enrolling Isobel is summer activities. The other half sits behind a desk, helps students find research material for home work, shelving books. I’m undeniably distracted.

I’ve always been this way: impatient to get on to the next thing when I know a change is coming. I’m not good at these temporary situations; I become consumed with anticipation for the Next Thing.  It’s hard to focus on my job and what’s worse is I’ve done it so long I can actually function well without being fully present. I’m doing what I need to do, but my heart’s not in it. I’m miles away, deep into the summer, going to swim lessons and story times and working on craft projects and cooking.

Everyone at work has been supportive (so far, the wider population doesn’t know yet), but I’m asked repeatedly, Are you sure? Is this final? I can tell they don’t want me to go. It makes me feel guilty.

Things are changing in education. Especially in California, where the district budget has been riding on fumes for several years now, the new structure isn’t supporting the old models. Earlier this year I came to terms with the fact that librarians in our district will probably be phased out. The database that will eventually replace me is still in the works, along with other money-saving ideas meant to cut costs and slash staff.

Maybe it’s better I say goodbye to this job before it says goodbye to me.

But hopefully not. Hopefully there will be librarians in this district by the time Isobel is enrolled in school. I don’t know, but I hope so.

Quitting my job to stay at home has long been a fantasy, but there’s a part of my brain that rails against the idea. You idiot. Give up a full-time librarian position in the middle of the largest recession since the Great Depression? What do you think you’re doing? Who do you think you are?

Anthony reminds me that I’m giving a wonderful job opportunity to someone else. Some other soul who wanted to be a librarian as badly as I did will have the chance to step into my shoes, shake things up, and call this place their own.

I am wildly excited to stay at home. My reservations are not strong enough to keep me from embracing this opportunity. The challenge for the next two months is to focus on what I need to do to get there, instead of what I want to be doing.

30 Responses to “The Gray Space”

  1. Cookbook at 8:17 am #

    Take it day by day. Know that, besides yourself, your first obligation is to Isobel (and your husband, too) and that the decision to stay at home is one that you thought through and offers the best solution for all three of you.

    • LittleBig at 10:48 am #

      Thank you!

      I’m almost at the uber-busy season in the library: inventory and textbook collection. I think I’m going to be chanting “Day by day” on an hourly basis.

  2. Helga at 8:25 am #

    I think it’s perfectly normal to feel guilty, but if you have the opportunity to do something you really want to do and spend time with Isobel, you should absolutely “choose you” and take it! God knows I wish I could spend more daylight hours with G, even though I know there is a great staff at his day care. In a few years, perhaps both he and Isobel will be in school, so seize the day while you still can!

  3. Jeff Silvey at 10:59 am #

    Being a stay-at-home is awesome, and it’s very important work. You’ll love. It’s tough to be in-between things, but it will be here soon enough.

    • LittleBig at 10:48 am #

      I agree, it’s very important work. Thank you!

  4. Stella at 11:45 am #

    I think you’re doing the right thing. Speaking of working as a librarian in education, my mom has made the decision to retire 5 years early. Most of that decision was fueled by dissatisfaction with the direction public education is taking in Illinois.

    • LittleBig at 10:49 am #

      I totally get why she feels that way. TOTALLY.

  5. Crys at 1:27 pm #

    I feel like I could have written this post – minus the fact that I’m not so happy with my job. Several people have told me I’m crazy to be losing the income but most here have been incredibly supportive. I’ve been told by several people that they respect my decision because it’s what’s best for my family. And those choices aren’t always possible or some people never do what they really should do even if they are able.
    I’m terrified that the roof is going to cave in or the cars are going to die or we won’t be able to afford food. I know that’s not the case because we’ve budgeted everything out and have money in savings. It’s just still hard making such a big change.
    The biggest thing is kids aren’t young forever and I feel like I’ve missed out on so much already. So it’s worth it. Will be hard yet fun and such a big challenge but such a rewarding experience I’m sure.

    • LittleBig at 10:50 am #

      Fortunately no one has been so rude as to say I’m crazy… yet. 😉 Thanks for the support!

  6. Missy at 7:50 pm #

    hug the baby. you’ll be fine.

    *isobel, i’ll always be here to help with homework. databases are awesome*

  7. dingey at 5:29 am #

    YOu know, most people can survive on a whole lot less money than they think they can. You already know that from Anthony’s time in school and everything. The material/career stuff is really not important: quality of life is important. It took me way too long to realize that and make some life changes, and there’s still more I’d LOVE to make, if I could figure out how. I’m jealous, frankly. You’re totally doing the right thing. The rat race isn’t the right race, no matter how many people are running in it.

    • LittleBig at 10:50 am #

      This is SO true. We survived on nothing for the past 8 years. We can do this.

  8. Laura at 9:48 am #

    i know what you mean about not being present and moving on to the next thing. it’s hard bc it’s SO EXCITING. but don’t worry about the guilt – you know in your heart this is right, no matter how people or the recession make you feel. enjoy your last months at this job and then have a blast in your new role!

  9. Jessi B. at 10:00 am #

    I could have written this, almost word for word, at this time last year. I was in my own grey area, waiting to be done with my desk job so I could move on to something I had been dreaming of for years. I think Grey is the perfect way to describe it, so out of focus, a little sad, a lot excited, but you have to do all that pesky waiting. I can speak from experience that once the wait is over, and you move on to the next thing, it is such a beautiful feeling and having gone through the grey, your are able to appreciate it so much more. I guess what I am trying to say is “hang in there champ!” what you are doing is SO worth it!

  10. angelina at 9:10 am #

    The thought of a world without librarians is insupportable to me.

    Staying home is wonderful, even if you only do it for a few years you will be so enriched for having done it. Having a career outside the home can be rewarding and fulfilling but I think every person (men too) should spend a couple of years staying home (with kids or without) keeping house, pursuing interests, learning who you are from the home life perspective.

    It is definitely hard to be inbetween gigs. I think it’s a great time to daydream.

    • LittleBig at 10:52 am #

      It’s so good to hear from you, Angelina! Also it seems that you keep changing URLs on me. Once I get you nailed down in my feed reader, you get another one. 😉

  11. Stefanie at 4:53 pm #

    I totally understand. I’ve always had the problem of not appreciating the “here and now” and always planning the next step. I spent the last three years preparing to go to grad school and now I’ve spent my first year in grad school looking up jobs and wishing I could just work. I’m trying to learn this lesson too. I think you made a really courageous decision. I was talking to one of my friends I go to school with who has a graduate degree in women’s studies about you today because I think you’ve made an admirably brave choice. She said feminism has now accepted that women DO have a choice to stay home and that the choice is meaningful and liberating because it is mutually fulfilling for you and your family. I can’t wait to see more on your etsy shop and when I come home this summer we have to do some thrifting. I’m DYING over here. I’ve done no thrifting here because it just isn’t the same 😦

    • LittleBig at 2:11 pm #

      Thank you so much for this Stef. I really appreciate your support, more than you could know.

      I totally agree. Feminism isn’t doing it’s job if someone says, “You, as a woman, can do anything you want! Except stay home.” Feminism is about the power to make any choice–even the choice to stay home.

    • LittleBig at 2:12 pm #

      And I CAN’T WAIT to come visit and clean out every thrift store in a 20 mile radius of Sparks. 🙂

      • Stefanie at 2:45 pm #


  12. purplequark at 9:00 pm #

    What Stef said.

    Even now I’m being impatient…having a fairly good job

  13. Windsor Grace at 3:07 am #

    I’m the same way. Waiting for school to start while not having a job was hellacious and I kept going from confident in my decision to thinking I was crazy to take out loans and go for my dreams. Hang in there! This is where you’re supposed to be and it’s going to be great!

    • LittleBig at 12:13 pm #

      Waiting is awful because it makes way for doubt. I’m glad you’re going for it, though!

  14. Marie at 4:21 pm #

    You’ll be great at this. I know it’s sad to leave one job, especially if you see it as a career like I did with teaching. But one career title alone does not a woman define. Believe me when I went freelance I doubted myself…and I still do, daily. I’m still trying to find a way to make it work well financially but I’m getting there. And I could never see you as a SAHM, you’re more of a SAHME (the E is for extrordinaire!).

    • LittleBig at 10:55 am #

      Thanks, Marie. That really means a lot. And you’re right–one career title alone does not a woman define. I need to write that on a scrap of paper and hang it on my mirror so I can refer to it daily.


  1. Things I Will Miss About The Library « Little Big -

    […] The Gray Space. […]

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