Fifteen years ago, I was the modern woman who had it all—a great husband, sweet little toddler, fantastic nanny, and an interesting technical career at Motorola, Inc. Thanks to the dotcom bubble, I’d just received an enormous raise. I also had a second child on the way. Unfortunately, my beloved nanny also found herself pregnant, and one day I came home from work to her resignation. She had decided to stay home and raise her child.
I was devastated. I interviewed nannies like crazy. None were like Sally. She was one in a million. The perfect woman to be the wife of my household while I pursued my technical career. After a few weeks of searching for childcare, I started to hear a nagging voice in my head—that I could be the one to stay home and take care of the kids. This wasn’t the voice of God, though perhaps my younger self thought that. No, this was the voice of me. The same inner voice that had driven me to study computer science in the first place. The same voice that suggested marrying my husband would be a good idea. This voice is the one that has been the most trustworthy in my life, and avoiding it has often led to frustration, irritation and lost opportunities.
Call it the observer, higher self, intuition, consciousness, whatever—all I know is that back then, my mind constantly cried out for me to stay home and take care of my kids, which was the craziest idea I’d had yet in my twenty-six years on Earth. When I told my parents, they cried. When I told my colleagues, they thought I was nuts. Why would I throw away all my hard work to raise kids? What business did an intelligent woman like me have staying home? What a waste! And worse, the many, many men and women who told me that to leave a technical career, even for a few years, was suicide. I would never, ever, ever get back into technology (yes, people actually said these things to me.) How could I let it go?
But somehow I knew that I could leave technology and when the time was right, re-enter. It wasn’t logical at all, rather it was a knowing that if I followed my heart (gasp!) all would work out.
Indeed, I would be a liar to say that the transition was easy. The two years of identity crises and post-partum depression that followed the decision to quit my job and raise my kids were seriously the worst in my life. Daily I woke up wondering what the hell I’d done and daily I heard myself say, “Trust me. You can do this.”
This blog is not a manifesto for staying home with your children. Rather, it’s a manifesto to listening to your inner voice and being faithful to it. Bear with me, because fifteen years later, everything has come full circle.
During those hard first years as a housewife when I felt like a complete failure—trust me, I was much better at software design than raising little boys—I discovered that while I’d been faithful to the particular needs of my sons and family, I’d abandoned my intellectual needs. I wasn’t being faithful to that part of me that needed to think about life, systems and solutions. With time, I found that writing while the kids napped, or in the early hours of the morning before everyone woke, would satisfy that. It seemed like a silly endeavor, but it saved me from self-destruction. Several years and a few poorly written novels and children’s stories later, I’d found a new love. Writing, researching and freelancing a few stories every now and then was the balance I needed.
As the kids got older, I was often asked, why aren’t you back at work? You’ll never get another job in technology. What are you thinking? Yet when I looked at my life in that moment, and listened to my inner voice, it wasn’t time. But the need to do the right thing in the eyes of others was strong and eventually I did go back to work, this time as a teacher. I wanted the hours to line up with my kids’ needs. But years into that job, I found myself exhausted with an income that after taxes barely provided any resources. In addition, just because I worked out of the house didn’t mean I could stop cleaning, cooking, hauling the children from one activity to another, etc. There was no time for writing, or any hobby to nourish my soul. It was work and family. A wise one once said to me, “Family, work, exercise, friends, hobbies. Pick two.” And unlike my technology career, I didn’t make enough money to hire a great nanny to help me. Again, my inner voice said, get out. Go back home. But my ego cried out in anguish, “But I’m so much more than a homemaker!!!”
In the end, I decided to be faithful to my inner voice and quit the teaching job. Three months later, I woke up from a dream and suddenly, my first novel came to life. I was faithful to this novel, setting aside time to write every day. I researched it and found myself deep within the eHuman world. Thus, eHuman Dawn was born. And less than two years later, eHuman Deception. I began this blog and two and a half years later I haven’t become a national bestseller, but I’ve met people from various walks of life who care about and love technology, humanity and the future. I even get emails asking when the final book in the trilogy will be published. My current answer—2017??? If I’m faithful ;-)
In writing these novels, I relied on what I’d learned as a homemaker and allowed myself to be faithful to the story and the characters, rather than force myself upon them. I followed their lead and in the end my life has been richer than I ever could have imagined. My faithfulness to these writing projects has been the adventure of a lifetime.
Now the boys are old. The eldest is on the cusp of college, the younger on the cusp of his driver’s license. I continue to write, having just finished my first venture into historical fiction/fantasy. I’ve adapted eHuman Dawn into film and am working with an agent to make it perfect and hopefully sell it to a producer. And in the middle of this action oriented faithfulness, what should appear?
A job offer. And not just any job, but one in technology.
After fifteen years out, I’ve been approached to be a founding member of a start-up—the CTO no less. The founder read my eHuman novels and saw that while they are stories, they’re also about technology and my knowledge of systems and design are evident in the writing. In many ways, these novels, like all science fiction, are high level customer requirements—only in a much more entertaining form than your typical documentation. In addition, the fact that I single-handedly managed to produce this product is evidence in his opinion that my program management skills are still intact, even if I did spend fifteen years raising sons.
It seems that against all odds, and contrary to the naysayers, a person can re-enter the world of technology. Key to this journey has been my faithfulness to that inner voice, the one who told me when it was time to stay home, when it was time to write and publish, and now, is saying loud and clear that the time has come to venture forth once more and bring my intelligence back to product development.
In a nutshell, faithfulness to one’s inner voice is like taking a dose of Felix Felicis (Harry Potter fans, you know what I’m talking about) and living life open and in awe, while remaining acutely aware of those moments when life cries out with opportunity. For me, this is what it means to live in "The Zone." It takes a lot of trust, and a support network, but in the end, it’s worth it.
In each moment of our lives, possibilities spread out before us. Decisions are what create the story of our lives, and being open to our inner voice is our navigation system. After spending fifteen years living this way, I can’t imagine following any other voice, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.