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Adjusting to a New Way of Life

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

By Alissa Butterfass

For those of you who are regular readers of the ACHA Blog, you may have noticed a subtle change in my bio. Two months ago, I left my professional, paying job to stay home with my kids. After 13 years at the same company, six of them as a “working mom” (a term I use only to facilitate writing this post, not to make any implications or judgments about mothers who do or do not have a paying job), it has been an adjustment for me and for my family. But so far, so good. Some thoughts and observations:

  • More tired, less stressed: I am stealing this phrase from a friend of a friend because it describes so well how I have been feeling lately. I am physically more tired than ever. Rather than sit at a desk in front of a computer all day, I am constantly on the run—chauffeuring kids, running errands, cooking, cleaning, etc. And with all of the Jewish holidays in the fall, last week was actually the first full week of school for my kids, so there’s been little downtime. I have been known to occasionally (read: every night) fall asleep on the couch while watching TV. That said, I am less stressed. The pressures of the office—deadlines, presentations, performance reviews, commuting—are behind me. While I appreciated the stimulation of the workplace, it does place a strain that differs from the demands of home life. As a CHD patient, I often wonder if the physical exhaustion is better or worse for me than the mental and emotional stress.
  • Dealing with health insurance gives me a headache: You’d think that switching from my insurance plan to my husband’s would go fairly smoothly considering they are both managed my the same insurance company, but it has been time-consuming and annoying, and has actually held up my care. My annual cardiology check up was in July while still on my own insurance, but my doctor recommended some follow-up tests I had to hold off on scheduling as I awaited approval from the new carrier. That approval required lots of paperwork regarding proof of continual coverage, which took time to process. (Yes, to repeat, I had to prove to the insurance company that had already covered me that I had previous coverage!)
  • Follow your passion: There are so many factors—personal, familial, professional—that went into my decision to leave my job and stay at home (Note: I realize that I am very lucky that financially I am able to do so). Still, at some point I may wish to return to professional life. Through my business school, workplace and volunteering I have heard many, many leaders talk about their success and the common takeaway is to follow your passion. If you love what you do, you can achieve great things. So, as part of this “time off” (ha!) I am trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I hope to discover my true passion and identify ways to make it central to any future career. I remember being in the hospital as a teenager, thinking that with my cardiac history I should want to be a doctor, nurse, social worker or some type of professional health worker. But “should” doesn’t always work out and those aren’t my interests so I still need to figure it all out.

At the end of the day, I am very happy with my decision and feel this change is best for me and my family at this time. Familiar with the phrase “happy wife, happy life”? As an adult with CHD, I am hoping for “happy life, happy heart.”


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