Plot Twist
Gearing Up For Writersblockapalooza 2006

Freefalling, part two

I've been unemployed once before. It was 2001 and I was working at a small software start-up in Virginia -- one of those tiny outfits that spent a lot of time and effort telling people that it wasn't a dot-com, it had a PRODUCT, and even though the PRODUCT would pretty much eat your computer alive from the inside out and no one had ever bought a single copy of the PRODUCT, we had loads of funding and free soda and snacks in the kitchen.

We'd had layoffs once before, and I survived miraculously by virtue of having the smallest salary in the company. I got bounced around as a technical writer, marketing manager, events coordinator, office-supply-closet stocker and office-coffee-pot scrubber. I also paid the company's bills, but the checks always bounced and I got very good at blaming our bank and promising to "look into things," which meant testily emailing various VPs about the need to STOP SPENDING SO MUCH DAMN MONEY ALREADY.

I stayed because I had no where else to go. One time I submitted a couple articles to magazines and got rejected and hid in the office bathroom to cry.

After 9/11, there were more layoffs. My friend ran a scan of the company email server and found a bunch of emails from the executives as they bargained and jockeyed for their team members and compiled the List of the Damned.

My friend was on the list; I wasn't. I took him out for lunch and we never went back -- we stayed at a bar instead doing shot after shot of straight vodka and waited for the terrorists to blow us all up.

Hours later I realized I'd left my coat at the office and stumbled back in sometime around 5:30 with a mouthful of Altoids and my high heels in my hand. The company president was waiting for me, and within 10 minutes I was packing up my desk and wondering if he knew that I was drunk off my ass.

My severance package was one month's worth of pay. I was out of work for three months. We'd bought our condo that summer -- with a mortgage that we figured we'd "grow into" with mad raises and stock options and I don't know, a magic money tree we'd grow in the window box. We'd spent all of our savings on the downpayment and refinishing the goddamn floors.

I sent out hundreds of resumes and stayed in bed all day and reused the coffee grounds. When I accidentally missed the dentist appointment I desperately needed before my health insurance ran out, they informed me I owed a $50 fee and I broke down in hysterical tears because I simply didn't have $50. I filed for unemployment and got called a white bitch by some random guy in the waiting area.

In complete panic, I took a hefty pay cut and accepted a marketing job with little government contractor. They never told me that I'd be working by myself in a little satellite office or that the "contracts" they listed on their client list were mostly from the 1980s or that my entire budget for brochures and events and advertising for the year was $9,000.

And so I spent a few horrible weeks printing out my boss's email and trying to explain to her that you don't "open" Windows, it's just WHAT YOUR COMPUTER RUNS ON DUMBASS, and being tasked with tracking what happened to this one restaurant that the company president ate at once, he forgets the name, but it was Thai food, or maybe Vietnamese, anyway, it's gone now but please find out when and why it closed and when I suggested that *just maybe* this wasn't the best use of my time I was reprimanded for "clinging to my title" and "not being a team player."

Then my former boss at a financial publishing company called -- the company I left a year before to go make my Internet stock option fortune -- and offered me a job. I packed up my desk that day and left a Post-It on my boss's computer monitor telling her that I would not be returning, thanks ever so fucking much.

I have been here ever since.

And now I am leaving.

And while Rockstar Mommy's Jerry-Maguire-like exit scenario (WHO'S COMING WITH ME? Y'ALL SUCK AND I AM TAKING THE FISH.) certainly sounds way awesome, quitting your job is rarely that dramatic. Or fun. It kind of sucks. And my office doesn't have any fish.

It was more like this: "Hello, I have bad news and would like to awkwardly hand you a resignation letter while making relationship-like platitudes of It's Not You, It's Me, We're Just Different People Now and I Don't Think We Mesh Very Well" and then I got all choked up because my boss -- my completely fantastic crate-racing jello-shooting boss -- said all he cared about was that I was happy.

And I am happy.

I can't tell you a lot of particulars about what I'll be doing -- yet -- but I will soon. I hope y'all will like it, and I hope you will read it. There will probably be some contracting for my current company along with some stuff that makes me tremble with excitement every time I think about it because I WILL BE A WRITER, A REAL-LIVE WRITER WHO GETS MONEY FOR WRITING THAT SHE WRITES HER DAMN SELF.

A lot of people think having a baby pretty much puts your life on hold. That babies and families are what keep women bashing against the glass ceiling. That your dreams take a backseat to your child's dreams.

I will tell you this: Bullshit.

The opportunities I've been given (nay, handed on a fucking silver platter with a pretty caligraphied notecard that says "For Amy") would never have come to be if not for Noah. I wouldn't have had the voice or the experience or the simple GUTS to go after them. Noah inspires me in so many ways -- to be a better writer, a better person and to do whatever it takes to give him the very best life possible.

Back when I was still on maternity leave, Jason and I agonized over our budget because MAN, did I love this motherhood business. MAN, did I want to stay home. We came up with a number. The amount of money beyond Jason's salary that we.just.plain.needed.every.month.not.negotiable.amen.

My experience back in 2001 taught us that living off our savings -- the savings we've meticulously built up over the years because NEVER FUCKING AGAIN will we live that close to the edge of the financial cliff -- was not something we were willing to do, even temporarily. And so we were left with this number. It alternatively seemed (to me) deliciously attainable and yet...totally impossible.

So I came back from maternity leave a different person, to a slightly different job than the one I'd left in September. I'm so glad I did. I owed it to myself to try. I owed it to Jason to not force him into a breadwinner role that he wasn't comfortable with. I owed it to Noah to make sure his parents weren't stressed out over money and his mother wasn't having anxiety attacks and reusing the coffee grounds again.

But oh my God, I hated it.

I will now and forever have the deepest admiration for mothers who work outside the home. I don't know how you do it. Because I sucked at it. I was always rushed and overloaded and running late and tired -- oh my God, so tired -- and if there was anything I hated more than the morning rush it was the drive home at night. I missed Noah so badly and he was RIGHT THERE in his infant carseat but I couldn't see him or play with him and traffic meant another 45 minutes of our time together was sucked away from us.

By Friday I was so tired and worn out that I seriously had no business getting behind the wheel with Noah in the car. So Fridays were the days that I missed my exit or locked my keys in the car or spilled coffee on myself or made a million other stupid mistakes. I was so tired of the colds and viruses and using my sick leave to care for Noah then dragging my diseased ass in because I just couldn't miss any more work.

I had to make a change. And I've made it and it's terrifying and exciting and I AM SO FUCKING GRATEFUL. Because I know. Just a couple months ago I stared at our budget for the millionth time, trying to scale back more and more and it just wasn't going to happen. I didn't have a choice. I think it's bullshit to kid ourselves that all women in this country really, truly have a choice.

Oh, but you choose to live in an area where real estate costs seventy million dollars a square foot. You choose to have two cars. You choose to have a date night with your husband. You choose these things because you are not a good parent.

Arrrrgh. The whole thing makes me want to poke pointy things in people's eyes.

Anyway. Stuff came together for me. Details coming soon. Maybe it was luck, fate, karma, God's chosen plan -- I have no idea. But honestly? It worked out because of you guys. Because you come here and read and comment and frantically refresh and give a rat's ass about my family and what I have to say. Or maybe you just want baby pictures. Or maybe you hate me and keep reading in hopes that I'll get hit by a truck. I don't know. But thanks for upping my stats anyway and helping me prove that there's an audience for run-on sentences about poop. And for giving me the confidence that hey, maybe I don't completely suck.

When I think about how you -- all of you -- have touched my life and changed it for the better; about where I would be without this blog, this outlet; and about how Noah and I have an army of friends and allies (I refuse to call any of you strangers) out there -- Jesus God, it renders me absolutely speechless.

(HA! Yet look at how I am still talking.)

So. I am serving out two more weeks. May 3rd is my last day. Then I get the nifty WAHM acronym and the chance to do everything I've ever wanted, plus the one thing I never realized would mean so much to me.


I couldn't have done it without you. Thank you.



I am nearly crying! And I've still got that damned freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-falling song in my head.

You give me courage that when I give up my job to work from home (10 weeks and counting!) that I will be glad of all the things I've left behind like the commute, missing the kid, dealing with co-workers who act like complete turds and embrace the good things like spending all day with the kid, being there for every bit of her, and enjoying it when her little brother comes along.

I can't wait to see what happens next!


well you're welcome! :)

You are an inspiration to me, our lives parallel each others in interesting ways and the fact that you can make this work for you gives me hope that I can do the same someday.

So thank you as well.

Teacher Lady

Semi-delurking to say, "You made me verklempt."


I can't wait to hear about your next adventure. Best of luck and bravo for be courageous!


Congrats! That is fantastic news & we are ALL eagerly awaiting the details!


this is just the coolest thing. congrats:)


Oh Amy, I am just about in tears....I am soooo happy for you! You totally deserve it, and Noah does too. I have a school age child and worked out my schedule to get off in time to pick him up from school, it's the best thing I ever did! Good luck!


WOW! I have been reading this for a few months now thanks to a good friend who turned me on to you. (not sure that sounds good, but anyway). I am pregnant with my first baby and I SWEAR TO GOD we could be twins. I have a volcano thing, but it's not about volcanos, but I OH so know how you feel. Anyway... this post brought me to tears. There is NO way I can quit work unless something "drops" in my lap and you are proof positive that when when want something or are supposed to have something somehow, someway it will work out. Thanks for your humor and sincerity. Looking forward to reading your blog for long to come.


You inspire me. You make me want to write better, and more from the heart. I look forward to your writing and your baby pictures, every day. I am VERY excited to hear where you are going next.....


No, Thank you! for showing us that we are not alone in our thoughts and fears, and for entertaining us and making us smile, and for helping us know that sometimes a run-on-sentence is OK!


Wow. It sounds like you are so energized for this new change. I am sure that it will be great for you. Looking forward to hearing more about it!

Donna P

Congrats on your new beginning.
Thanks for opening your heart, your life, and letting us get to know you.
As stated above, you won't regret this decision.
Please squeeze him for all of us!

Donna P in Atlanta


I am so happy for you and wish you the best. I wish I had your courage and strength to make the same decision.


I think every mom should read this post. I am a WAHM and run a home daycare. I felt just like this when I basically quit my office job when my 2nd was born. I took off 8 weeks off, then the day I went back, I told my boss I couldn't do it and was quitting in 2 weeks. Luckily they needed to layoff a few people so he made me one of them and I collected $900 a mth in unemployement! But anyways, it sounds like this is a new beginning of great and wonderful things and you will be able to make money and still be with Noah! I've made so many friends online and finding out the price of living elsewhere (I live in the very cheap State of Ks) compared to here, it's no wonder so many women HAVE to go back to work. I don't need to do daycare but I choose to because I don't want Dave to feel totally responsible for making all the money.

I'm happy for you and can't wait to hear more!!


I'm a pretty new reader...
only a week or so.....
but I got one thing to say....




Ditto to the 300+ before me! Especially Fran, wayyyyy up top who said "When will women ever learn that to support one another's choices only makes us stronger women."

Can't wait to keep reading your story!


Congratulations, Amy! I wish you and your family the very best of luck!


one of the Amy's

Well done!!! Good luck, and thank you for giving so many of us the inspiration to keep plugging along in our day to day lives....yet not losing sight of our goals. Some how, some way, some day, it just might happen. Good luck, Amy.


Annie M from glamgranola.blogspot sent me over here to read this really touching post. I am a sad late comer to the party, but I see there is a light at the end of the Mo-Fo-ing tunnel! Congratulations!


Everyone has already said it but it definitely sounds like a book deal. Congrats if it is! Or if it's something else that is just as wonderful because you deserve it!


I have been reading your blog ever since a co-worker sent me the one about childrens clothes. I am having my first baby in July and your blog is the first thing I check when I jump online because a. Noah's cute b. you are funny c. there are suspensful stories about who mamed certain stuffed animals in your house and d. you are preparing me for motherhood in a way that nothing else has been able to so far. Thanks for your humor and your insight. I am JEALOUS that you get to leave your rat race job but I am looking forward to the material your new adventure supplies.
good luck,


To paraphrase another Jerry Maquire line:


I can't remember the exact first time I read Amalah, but it was about a month or so after "Love in a Time of Madness".

Your writing sings to me (and to others it seems!) and I feel as if I am chatting with a close girlfriend when i read your words. Ok- kind of a one sided conversation for the most part, but still- reading your blog gives that comfortable feeling of hanging with a good friend. Nope- NOT a stalker, just someone who reads daily- or at least checks daily to see if there are new words or wit posted.

I am so happy that whatever opportunity has arisen is so beneficial as to allow you the ability to be with Noah during the day- a true blessing if ever there was one!

Looking forward to your new adventures,



I am delurking to say what a powerful post! I don't think it was fate - it's because you're an incredibly gifted writer. (Not everyone can make me weep at my desk). Congratulations, and even though I don't actually know you I have to say after months of reading your blog that I'm really proud of you for being able to make this happen.


Oh the crying!!!

Awesome, Amy. Just fucking awesome. I didn't know I could be so happy for someone I've never met in person, but I am. Good for you. I can't wait to hear the details.

Vaguely Urban

Can you handle one more congratulatory offering? Because I'm so happy for you!


I cried when I read this post.

I'm glad that things turned out so great for you! So now you can have another completely beautiful baby for us to gawk at! And... I make the most beautiful babies too, so I know beautiful when I see it! Have a baby! I mean, if you are going to do this SAHM thing right, do it right, man!

And wouldn't you be a WAHM? Because I am picking up that you are still going to have a career-- from home-- just on your own terms!?


But one point on that list of things you choose....
You choose to have date night with your husband because it makes it possible for you two to have a real marriage, which in turn makes it possible for you to be the best parent you can be because you have real help AND you're really happy.
That choice is FOR being a good parent!
I speak as a parent who didn't have date night for a few years... it's WAY better for all of us if we have date night.


you're just so gosh darn entertaining that i wouldn't dream of not obsessively updating your page :)

stories like yours make me want to have kids. and stay at home :) b/c working's getting real old, and i have oooooh about 40 years til retirement.


That's fantastic! I'm glad you are getting to do what you want to do. And I'm totally jealous. Good luck as you go through the transition!


Hey, Amy, you are most welcome. Love your blog. You are amazingly talented. Can't wait to read about your next adventure...and keep the cute kid pics comin'. Don't forget about us workin' outside the home mommies. ~Noelle


i have been a secret Amalah reader (meaning i have never commented before until now) for over a year now. i dont even know how i found you, but i did, and have enjoyed many a night giggling at your blog and laughing before i go to bed. i am so happy for you and this entry moved me to tears to hear your passion, and your fierce love for your son. congratulations...


It's great that your writing is going to help you stay home with that beautiful boy. I'll read anything you do just to help that along. Do whatever it takes. Staying home when they're little is so rewarding. I have absolutely no regrets. It's good to have a group of moms that you can meet for coffee or something every once in a while. That makes it so much better.


OK, I think I'm like comment number 350, but I just gotta say..."You go!" I'm proud of you like you're my younger sister. You have much talent as a writer. Use it. You've come a long way.


I hope these long posts become a habit because I do not know what I would've done during one of my conference calls today if I didn't have this to read.

Speaking of conference calls and the need to excise them from my life, I'm actually investigating ways to get out of the corporate world now instead of just talking about it until everyone stops listening to my whining. That's all you, baby. Frankly I've mostly just been using you for the laughs and entertainment. Turns out you are now INSPIRING me. I thought I was done with all of the inspiration nonsense.

Guess I should say thanks.....THANKS!


Damn, that was BEAUTIFUL girl! And I couldn't have said all that inspiration from your kid thing better myself.

Go for your DREAMS... and I can't wait to hear all about them. ;-)


this is so weird. in my head i'm singing 'congratulations' but it's to the tune of rod stewart's 'infatuation.'

oh funny. well, i think so, anyway. yea for you and for noah!


Now THAT is Women's Lib. Congrats, Amy.


Good luck in whatever you do. Noah is a lucky guy to have you.


I am so jealous...and so inspired at the same time (feeling your of 5-month old baby...also works 50 hours a week...AGH).

Congratulations...good luck...and we'll all be waiting to hear how it goes!


What an inspiration!!! De-lurking to let you know that I am happy for you!! I too got an incredible offer this week. Working 8 hrs per week with bennies.


Firstly, and most importantly, I think you have to be one of the best mommies EVER. Ever.

Secondly, I suspect that whatever you do will be brilliant - because quite simply I love reading Totally love it. Completely and wierdly enough, I totally care what happens to Amy, Noah and Jason. I feel as if I have a friend - ok, one I've never actually met and who hasn't the foggiest idea about me - but who cares? Go Amalah.


Excellent twist. Good for you for having the courage to jump.

Will you still share the results of the diaper bag question? I've been asking the same question myself for the last several months.


I have to admit, I am a little saddened that as I am re-entering the work force on May 1st after 5 years as a SAHM (the last year and a half as a WAHM with no child care for toddlers - THE HARDEST JOB), you are leaving it......I was hoping to be able to read about your experiences as I was just starting my own :). I am very happy for you, though, that you get to be home with your precious baby. I don't think I could have left my first child to go to work either - well, I know I couldn't have because I chose not to. Babyhood just goes so fast and if you CAN be home and want to be, you should go for it! I will be cheering you on in your new endeavor, whatever it is :). And think of me in a quiet office, enjoying working with grown-ups without a toddler's legs wrapped around my waist and a great dane hanging over my shoulder. I can't wait! Life has lots of twists and turns, that's for sure, and I'm glad for you that you are getting to do exactly what you want to do at this point in time!


okay heeeeeeeeelp: from your bio pronunciation instructions it seems your pronounce your name "AIM-EEE-uh-luh" (amy-allah), or is it "AIM-uh-luh" (aim-allah) or...????? I know it's not "AHH-maa-luh" or "ahh-MAAAA-luh" but... asldfjeirafsdlj?? sound bite, anyone? hehe. ps: you are awesome and your baby is effing beautiful. have another!


Congratulations and Good Luck! I would really love to be able to make the decision to stay home with my babies, ok, only one is a baby (toddler) but still, to have the chance to stay home would be so excellent!

I love coming hear to read and of course I love the baby pictures.

be back to read more later.


Amy, that's awesome. Good luck. I'm really impressed with your courage to make the leap. I hope one day I can do it too.

Serenity Now

That was one of the best posts ever. While the next few months may be hectic and crazy, the end result will be worth it.


I smell a book deal. And maybe a sibling. Or is that my gas-station-cappucino-because-I-refuse-to-pay-for-Starbucks cappucino?


Either way, congratulations.


Congratulations again Amy. I knew you'd be getting paid to write someday. I'm glad it has all worked out well and sooner than you expected.
I look forward to supporting your next endeavor.


You know, Amy...I believe I suffered my first actual anxienty attack after reading one of your crazy, busy, trip-and-fall-down-the-stairs-Friday posts. I imagine your running in that NOVA/DC rat-race while trying to enjoy your baby and husband. I really felt for you re: day-care-drop-offs and rather-play-with-other-babies-than-nurse-eventhoughmymommaspentherlunchbreaktodothisforme days. I am SOOSOOSOO glad for you, how wonderful! I SO, totally look forward to reading your upcoming work. I hope to be in your shoes soon (minus having to work at all)...but thanks for letting us live vicariously through you. GOOD JOB!


You know, Amy...I believe I suffered my first actual anxienty attack after reading one of your crazy, busy, trip-and-fall-down-the-stairs-Friday posts. I imagine your running in that NOVA/DC rat-race while trying to enjoy your baby and husband. I really felt for you re: day-care-drop-offs and rather-play-with-other-babies-than-nurse-eventhoughmymommaspentherlunchbreaktodothisforme days. I am SOOSOOSOO glad for you, how wonderful! I SO, totally look forward to reading your upcoming work. I hope to be in your shoes soon (minus having to work at all)...but thanks for letting us live vicariously through you. GOOD JOB!


Having tried for 13 years to have a child with no luck, even I find myself wrestling with all the numbers of how I could stay at home, if not me, then my husband, because I see the agony on the working mother's face, everyday. I don't blame you a bit. You're smart enough to realize how lucky you are. What an amazing example to set for Noah. Congratulations and best wishes!


I am so excited for you. Whatever your new adventure is I know you will love it because it means more time with Noah. Good luck and don't worry the next two weeks will fly by.


I'm so happy for you that I feel like I've actually done something--and I haven't!! Great news for the whole Amalah family! But don't get too busy and forget us at the blog--we need ya!!

Ruth Dynamite

Wow. Well said - all of it. Congratulations and best of luck.


Congrats for making the gutsy move. You're right, it is worth it


That's wonderful news, Amy. I'm so glad to hear that you're doing something that will make you happy -- as well as being less stressful. Best of luck! :)


I am so happy for you. I dont know what else I could say. I needed to work so badly after G was born and then my dad died and took my WAH job with him but we managed on 1/4 of the salary we had. I knew I had to work but knew there was no way I could ever leave my baby period. So I am just so happy for you that tis worked out and it will work out and everything will be fine. Being with Noah is best and if its at all possible totally worth it. I could never leave G no matter how broke we got. I know some working moms just cant get that but we did it as impossible as it was. I stayed home and we are still eating and living and G is the happiest kid in the world.


I love me some amalah. :)


Good luck working from home.... I have been WAHM for 5 years now. Actually, this month is the anniversary of my volunteering for layoffs, and learning I was pregnant 10 days later.

I imagine your income will come from this blog and your writing, so congrats. It will be wonderful to read these archives as time marches on... You have a written memory, which is the best part of all of this.

It is really, really hard to work from home with a two year old and a four year old of the happiest and busiest boys on the planet. It is now hard to string 90 seconds together in productive effort. So, I now work while they sleep and do what I can during the day.

It is also really hard living on less than half of the family income from 5 years ago when I was working. WAHM Moms don't have it as easy as they show it on tv.

So, best of luck to you and yours, may your heart be light and your purse be heavy.


Congratulations, Amy. You deserve this opportunity and I am so thrilled for you.


The only thing I can say is that you are so brave. I am very impressed.

(I also need to point how scared this made me. I'm already fretting about the few weeks that I have with my new little guy before I have to go back to work, as I sit here holding him in my arms. And what it will be like when I do go back to work and have to juggle ALL OF THIS motherhood stuff AND a job. I'm not sure I can do it!)



I'm so glad I wasn't the only nerd who cried after reading that post. God bless you and your family. Noah is such a beautiful lucky boy to have such a wonderful caring mom. Hope you enjoy all that extra time together!


First of all, that magic money tree is 'sposed to be growing in MY backyard.

Second, congrats on your new opportunity to WRITE FOR MONEY!

Very cool :)


Well, thank you too. For being honest, funny, inspiring and caring.
I wish your family the best and can't wait to hear more.

Busy Mom

Congratulations, and I look forward to hearing about your next adventure!


Very inspiring move!

Lisa Ann

Holy comments Batman!


Wow and your welcome.

Now, could you hook me up?



*refreshes page again*

The suspense, it burrrrrrrrnnnns ...

Lori burns like the heat of 1,000 suns. Or a hemorrhoid being wiped with an alcohol swab.
All the best to you, Amy.


The 3 gazillion comments before me have already said it a million other ways, but you freaking rock. I've been a big fan of yours for quite sometime. You make me smile a little more every day.
As a writer, editor, wife and aspiring mom, who's trying to balance all of the above plus more, I find so much inspiration and joy from your words.

I can't wait to hear about your new endeavors. I wish you and the whole family the best!


I'm so envious - or jealous (I always have been confused by the two). I wish you the best of luck.


This is so awesome. Wow. I'm jealous!

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