Author Topic: SAHM(hood) for me vs FIRE for my husband - aka "am I stealing his dream?"  (Read 5638 times)

NUF

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My husband and I carefully planned and prepared to have children in circumstances with plenty of resources and where I could go back to work in a supportive situation. We lived as college students late into our 20s and were fortunate to have our prime saving years converge with the bull market run up. Today at 34, we have a net worth of about million and once our old house (currently listed) is sold, should have just over million invested. We have both taken advantage of our savings to negotiate with our employers for work from home days and general gentle handling.

Even with the changes in work that my husband was able to negotiate, he hates his job. He's a lawyer doing doc review and even though he's at the top of the doc review heap, is doing work that is intrinsically meaningless and where he's not valued as part of the organization. (doc review lawyers are temp workers and usually considered second class citizens by law firms) This part may sound familiar to some of you; He has decided that the answer is the amass all the money that we might ever need and then retire at 40.

I never have and still don't understand why we need the giant stash before he can change careers. We could fund a career change for him even when we didn't have significant savings because we always lived within my salary. But it's his career and his life and once we had carved out some spending that I valued, I was happy to support his plan since the only sacrifice it required from me was to listen to his daily bitching. Personally, I wonder if the financial goals are a way to procrastinate the emotional work of figuring out what he kind of work he would enjoy doing and that might give his some satisfaction. Perhaps he has just given up on the idea of joy in self expression or never believed in it at all. As I write this, I'm considering the idea that his unhappiness is in large amount with the idea that the world isn't the meritocracy that he was brought up to expect and surprise that the emotions of feeling unhappy and disconnect are even affecting his life even though he's hitting all the traditional milestones. His stated after FIRE plan is to start his own company even though he hates sales and hustling. Aka no plan at all.

Whatever is fueling his unhappiness, he's chosen to take the long long route to addressing it. We're about 7 years in and have between 4-7 years left to his FIRE number of 2MM.

I am 4 days into my first week back at work after a 7 month Maternity Leave (one month of which was before the baby) and want to quit to be a SAHM. I've always worked jobs that I felt served me personally; either that I found meaningful or where the work was interesting or that I felt were actively advancing my career goals. My current job is as an analyst at a second tier consulting company working in procurement. The work is mildly interesting, I thought I was advancing my career and the work environment, manager and benefits are extremely good. The pay is on the low side but that's honestly by design... traded for intangibles.

The few days I've been back haven't sucked! I work from home 3 days a week, my baby is being cared for by my mother in law in my home, my boss is extremely supportive, the work is even somewhat interesting. But I miss my maternity leave and I don't find it meaningful. I was happy spending all day focused on my little boy, there was a zen quality to the days drifting from moment to moment. I tend to overthink things and have never felt so grounded and been so present in the moment as during those months.

I've worked through most of my concerns and issues with taking time of from my career. The career that I was building really isn't one that I want, I'll probably go back to the public sector. The work that I find interesting, I can replace through volunteer work. If I have to rebuild a career from scratch, I have confidence in my ability to do that.

But I can't help feeling that I'm stealing my husband's dream. All he's talked about day in and day out for upwards of 7 years is quitting his job! He swears that he won't resent me and that he just wants me to be happy but I don't know that his track record is that of someone who has deep insight into his own psyche.

Logically if one of us is going to quit, it should be the deeply unhappy person rather than the person who is in a pretty cushy situation. My biggest dissatisfaction with being back at work is that it feels pointless. I'm not working to build a career because I've realized that a career in procurement consulting isn't very meaningful to me; I'm not working to buy things I want because I want nothing more than to be happy with my baby; I'm not working to retire early because that's never been a goal of mine. Working to help my husband in finding happiness would be meaningful. Working to help him retire early in 5 years when I don't think those 5 years are necessary and when FIRE=\= happiness is not.

The reason I started coming to this community is to help understand my husband's thought processes when they seem incomprehensible to me. It's been helpful to see his viewpoint explained and reflected in multiple ways. I'm not looking to gift of the magi him (I always thought that situation could have been solved with better communication), I'm looking to optimize our collective happiness. But if he's not going to take the opportunity to go for happiness, I will.

Will he resent me? Why won't he address his deep unhappiness? Am I stealing his dream? In some ways, his years of complaining and unhappiness have scarred me and I feel guilty being happy when he's not. How can I even out that disparity when him being more happy is not in my control and me being less happy to match his level is stupid?

Cassie

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I would find a good therapist for you both to see to discuss this. This has been gong on for a long time & runs very deep. He may be scared of retiring, scared of failing in his own business, very insecure when it comes to money, etc.  A good therapist will be able to help you both discover the answers together.  Good luck:))

Neustache

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If he says he won't resent you, then take him at his word and go for it.  If it becomes a big deal and he seems resentful, then you guys can tackle it then. 

humbleMouse

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Honestly, if your husband hates his job and you already have 1 million invested it sounds like you could both be retired already.  problem solved

norabird

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I would ride out being back at work until you guys can figure this out. Since it's a good situation, take your time before committing to the next step.

Argyle

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One thing to consider is that if you are a SAHP, you can put money-saving measures into effect that you might not be able to as a working parent.  For instance, all meals made from scratch, from ingredients on sale; sales scouted for clothes, etc.  When both members of a couple are working, the thing they're short on is time, and this will allow you more time.  I know time with a small child is not free and easy, but it does give you more flexibility.

Another consideration is that your mother-in-law is now, as I understand, taking care of your child without pay, but how long will that last?  It's a demanding job.  After a year or so, she may well want some free days.  My bet is that somewhere in there you would be paying for childcare. 

So my point is that staying at home also allows you as a couple to save money for your husband to FIRE.

However, I'd have a firm plan before going ahead.  Not that you can't alter it along the way, but just so it's not up in the air.  For instance, under the arrangement where you stay home, you as a couple will be saving $XX,XXX per year, and it will go into this or that investment, and at current rates you expect to hit two million by XXXX, and at that point your husband will consider leaving his job.  Or something that still gives him a solid target date.  My guess is that when that time comes, he will be less sure about his next move than he thinks; but that's down the road.  You don't want that certainty taken away from him.

I hope you are right that you'll be able to re-enter the workforce without a problem down the line.  As has been discussed on another thread, many women believe that but find it not to be the case when the time comes.  If there's a way you could work part-time or keep your hand in at your career, that would also protect you.  Not casting doubts on your marriage in particular, but a certain percentage of marriages do end and no one has a magic ball to predict the future.  You want to be protected no matter what happens and your financial security is good for your child too.

I'm a red panda

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Could your husband be the SAHP until he finds a job he enjoys more? Then you can switch and you be the SAHP. 

Also, I'm confused why you would be a SAHM, but your husband would be FIRE. Would it not be his job to care for the child if you work and he stays home? Or would the child still be sent to care while he lives his retirement dream? You don't mention if HE dreams to be a stay at home parent. It isn't for everyone- so possibly while he wants to no longer be a lawyer, staying at home won't be for him.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2015, 11:13:19 AM by iowajes »

Axecleaver

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Quote
I am 4 days into my first week back at work after a 7 month Maternity Leave (one month of which was before the baby) and want to quit to be a SAHM.
Oh, be careful! So many folks have had that feeling as they go back to work, and it's only your first week back. It's a really wrenching, emotional transition. Of course you'd rather be at home with your baby - every mother does. Tread gently here and give yourself plenty of time to adjust.

Mrs Axe spent a full year SAHPing and was still emotional about leaving our daughter and going back to work, and this lasted until she was two. It's such a personal decision. For her, she knew that her self-worth was tied very closely to having her own income and not relying on a man (even one as spectacular as me!) for her entire livelihood. Mrs Axe worked full time until she was in high school, and then went back to part time. You have different but similar demons, and you need time to sort it out.

PharmaStache

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Quote
I am 4 days into my first week back at work after a 7 month Maternity Leave (one month of which was before the baby) and want to quit to be a SAHM.
Oh, be careful! So many folks have had that feeling as they go back to work, and it's only your first week back. It's a really wrenching, emotional transition. Of course you'd rather be at home with your baby - every mother does. Tread gently here and give yourself plenty of time to adjust.


Yeah, I wouldn't be making any big decisions about quitting your job right now.  Give it some more time.  Sounds like you had a very good situation right now with your MIL and working from home.  Think about all of your options for a few months (various part time work, starting own business, career change, etc).

plainjane

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It's only been a week back and you're in the midst of upheaval.  I think you guys need to work it through more thoughtfully and not make a snap decision.

FLBiker

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Re: SAHM(hood) for me vs FIRE for my husband - aka "am I stealing his dream?"
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2015, 11:40:48 AM »
Agreed -- I wait a little (for you) before you decide how you feel about working.  And you've already got enough money for your DH to quit a job he hates.

NUF

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Re: SAHM(hood) for me vs FIRE for my husband - aka "am I stealing his dream?"
« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2015, 11:55:53 AM »
Hi all! Thanks for the replies.

I've done my best to set myself up for success returning to work but am missing a crucial component: motivation.

All of the other pieces are in place but I cannot find it in myself to continue to be separated from my kid without some reason and I can't find one for myself. Before I left, feeling like I was good at something was satisfying. Now my bar has been raised and it's not enough.

The idea of being separated from my baby just for the money is frankly making me resentful of all the saving that we've done. We might as well have been spendypants and had some nice vacation pictures to show for it if I'm still stuck working a job for the money. At least then I could tell myself that I'm doing it to put food on the table which is not true now.

To answer some questions:
- my husband doesn't want to be a STAP, I do.
- I wouldn't be considering quitting my career if we didn't have significant assets. I figure that worst case scenario, as long as we didn't blow it all in a prolonged legal battle, both separate (traditional) retirements would be funded and I feel comfortable living within the means of a much more entry level salary.
- I do understand that I may not be able to regain this particular career and may have to start at the bottom again and am comfortable with that. The business world has been a detour after I burnt out of first career in government and I honestly always meant to go back.

My husband keeps telling me to quit if I want and that nobody's arguing against me. I keep telling him that I can stay but he needs to help me find a reason.

catccc

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Re: SAHM(hood) for me vs FIRE for my husband - aka "am I stealing his dream?"
« Reply #12 on: October 08, 2015, 12:18:39 PM »
Your heart is telling you that you want to be with your baby. 

I hate to razz on your husband, but he just wants to run away from his job.  You aren't "stealing his dream" by quitting your job because your motivation is different.

I say give yourself a transition period of say, a month, and see if you feel differently about your work/life.  If you still want to stay at home, do it without a second thought.


Faraday

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Re: SAHM(hood) for me vs FIRE for my husband - aka "am I stealing his dream?"
« Reply #13 on: October 08, 2015, 12:24:24 PM »
My husband and I carefully planned and prepared to have children ....

Will he resent me? Why won't he address his deep unhappiness? Am I stealing his dream? ...


NUF, you put a vast amount of data into your first posting. I'm going to take a slightly different tack than many of the respondents because there's some common ground between your context and my own:

1) I don't think there's anything seriously threatening to life, limb or the pursuit of happiness in your posting. You and DH already have your lives together far, far more than 99% of the people in this world and a good fraction of the people here on MMM.

2) You're going to get low quality relationship advice here. I don't mean to be disparaging to anyone, I'll say that about myself (and what I write next) also. None of us are pros so the psych feedback is all amateur.

3) Let your husband vent to you about his job because you are his partner, you are safe, and you've got his back. His bitching about his job does not constitute an emergency and does not mean you actually have to do anything but listen. In fact, what I advise you IS to listen, and if possible, do ACTIVE LISTENING where  you reflect back to him, in your words, what he just said. The benefit of active listening is that it shows him you ARE listening and also forces him to "hear back his thoughts" in a different form. He'll automatically "hone" his own position if you do active listening.

4) Try, if you can, to gently and lovingly set limits on the bitching. What I mean by that isn't to "declare a limit and get his buy in". What I mean by that is after he winds down a little bit, change the subject and let him know you are changing the subject because you want him to be engaged with you and be with you in the moment. What this does is lets him know that he's received time with you, actively listening, and it's not put you in a bad mood nor has it jeopardized your relationship. It also lets him know that you still need and value his full participation after he's done venting.

5) Work with him to create a positive experience for both of you, be it cooking for dinner, having dinner, cleaning up after dinner, spending time with you and the baby, etc.

6) When you've been able to disengage his mind from work and engage him in a positive experience at home, call attention to the contrast and ask him how it feels. Get him to talk about how it feels for him to be in the moment but not wrapped up in work.

Your husband is afraid of the degree to which he needs his job, both for self-actualization as well as earnings. He's continually getting told he's not worthy at work and you can't underestimate the toxic, destructive power of what he's having to bear up under.  He's to be congratulated that he can even see through his anger fog to build a stash and conceive of FIRE.

7) Don't concern yourself about whether or not he'll resent you for being a SAHM. If you have buy-in from him, take him at face value. One important message you've seen already is how your being at home can provide FIRE-like benefits, as you'll have more time to do highly leverageable things like preparing meals, keeping the house running, and even establishing a deeper and more meaningful relationship with your MIL.

8) You HAVE to get his ass on a bicycle somehow. That, or whatever physical activity trips his trigger. He bad needs both the health benefits and the distraction of physical activity. I have one brother who sounds like him, who ended up needing a triple heart bypass when he was in his early 40's.

Allow your husband's discovery and dealing with oppression NOT to be a house-on-fire emergency. Let it simply be his coping mechanism for a difficult job, but also help him limit his venting, help him realize that when he is venting, he's re-living an experience he doesn't like, and it's displacing important time with his family. "Extended bitching" has a cost, and it's a cost he truly doesn't want to pay, if he were able to slow down and truly see that.

One other thing: if you need to pry him away from this job and get him to look for employment elsewhere, you will need to get slightly involved. Tell me what you think about these ideas:
- see if you can identify competing law firms that would love to steal him away from his law firm, especially law firms that maybe have lost cases to his current employer
- identify the locations of those law firms to see if the commute to work will be better or worse. If better, you might be able to sell that as an aid to getting to that $2M stash sooner.

Most importantly NUF, you sound pretty damned awesome. You feel connection to your baby, your husband, your MIL and most importantly, yourself. You clearly know what you want to do with your time and what makes you happy. That's a miraculous thing, sis. Miraculous! In a world full of people confused and not knowing what to do with their lives, you are genius for knowing yourself this well.

In other words, your self-knowledge and joy at being with your child....isn't that something you want to bring to and impress on your child? Wouldn't it be equally awesome if you could instill your positive characteristics into your child by being SAHM?!?!

My wife did this with our two sons, who are now in their mid-late 20's. Let me tell you, it pays dividends every day. My wife made my boys into way, way better human beings than their old man is and I'm completely tickled about that.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2015, 12:32:03 PM by mefla »

bacchi

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Re: SAHM(hood) for me vs FIRE for my husband - aka "am I stealing his dream?"
« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2015, 12:41:39 PM »
Honestly, if your husband hates his job and you already have 1 million invested it sounds like you could both be retired already.  problem solved

Yep. Husband quits job he hates and wife can be with baby. You're already selling the house; go rent somewhere outside of a HCOL city and you're set.

MoonShadow

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Re: SAHM(hood) for me vs FIRE for my husband - aka "am I stealing his dream?"
« Reply #15 on: October 08, 2015, 12:45:05 PM »
More than a million saved.  Young professional couple with marketable skills in broad skills, applicable in just about any city in America.  One child.

Why the hell is $2 Million your FIRE number?  You can both quit anytime you like; move to a lower cost of living city, or not; take any work you like at any salary you wish to accept, or not; and be fine.

partgypsy

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Re: SAHM(hood) for me vs FIRE for my husband - aka "am I stealing his dream?"
« Reply #16 on: October 08, 2015, 12:45:45 PM »
Are you OK, if you become a SAHM, that you husband quits working? He may find work so aversive, he may do so. Are you OK with living within whatever those means are, indefinitely, both of you not working? I know you said you intend on returning to work, but if you decide to have more than 1 child the incentive to stay at home will only grow.

And is he OK with retiring tomorrow, with assets of 1 million? If so then you are both set. Both retire now, and live within your means.

charis

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Re: SAHM(hood) for me vs FIRE for my husband - aka "am I stealing his dream?"
« Reply #17 on: October 08, 2015, 01:35:01 PM »
You work from home three days a week?  So you are physically away from the baby two days a week?  I would love this set up.  But I agree with the others that neither of you have to work your current jobs, or any jobs, if you don't want to.  What type of job arrangement would make it worth to you to stay in the workforce?  Part time, full telecommuting?  Why not ask your current job to accommodate your wishes?  It couldn't hurt since you want to leave anyway.

I'm a red panda

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Re: SAHM(hood) for me vs FIRE for my husband - aka "am I stealing his dream?"
« Reply #18 on: October 08, 2015, 01:41:23 PM »
- my husband doesn't want to be a STAP, I do.


If the two of you have determined that your budget requires one of you to work, then it makes zero sense for him to leave his job based on the above statement. He doesn't want to be a stay at home parent: with a kid at home, whoever leaves their job is the one to care for the child. Maybe he should find a new job and continue working elsewhere. Why does THIS job need to seem like the only option? And generally, it seems easier to find a job if you are employed than if you are not, so now is the time to start looking.

Now, if you both retire- then everyone is happy. But you have to run your own numbers on that.

Giro

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Re: SAHM(hood) for me vs FIRE for my husband - aka "am I stealing his dream?"
« Reply #19 on: October 08, 2015, 01:43:49 PM »
I'm not trying to imply anything here, but do you have enough of your own assets that if your relationship ended you would be okay?  I would ask the same of my own child or even myself.  it's just a smart think for women to consider.

You've just had a child and just went back to work, take a few days to get your feet under you.

Goodluck! 

AZDude

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Re: SAHM(hood) for me vs FIRE for my husband - aka "am I stealing his dream?"
« Reply #20 on: October 08, 2015, 01:46:15 PM »
I'm a man, obviously, but I will say this anyway. This time with your baby will never come back. Quit today, and figure it out later. Once your child is older, you can go back to work and supplement your early retirement income, allowing your husband to stay home.

I hate my career. I mean, I fucking hate it, but I told my wife right off the bat that if she wanted to be a SAHM, then do it and we would figure everything else out. The thing is your husband does not find any meaning in his career. Him working to allow his wife to spend time with her baby, that is meaningful. It might actually make him happier to know he is making a difference.

Easye418

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Re: SAHM(hood) for me vs FIRE for my husband - aka "am I stealing his dream?"
« Reply #21 on: October 08, 2015, 01:54:13 PM »
More than a million saved.  Young professional couple with marketable skills in broad skills, applicable in just about any city in America.  One child.

Why the hell is $2 Million your FIRE number?  You can both quit anytime you like; move to a lower cost of living city, or not; take any work you like at any salary you wish to accept, or not; and be fine.

Well said.  I was thinking the same thing.  Cheers.

TVRodriguez

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Re: SAHM(hood) for me vs FIRE for my husband - aka "am I stealing his dream?"
« Reply #22 on: October 08, 2015, 02:18:30 PM »
I would find a good therapist for you both to see to discuss this. This has been gong on for a long time & runs very deep. He may be scared of retiring, scared of failing in his own business, very insecure when it comes to money, etc.  A good therapist will be able to help you both discover the answers together.  Good luck:))
+1.  And if he won't go to therapy, I'd go alone if I were the OP.  At least for a couple of sessions. 

He's a lawyer who hates his job.  Welcome to 80% of all lawyers.  But there are some of us who love what we do.  He has options, even within contract work, to find something he doesn't hate.  He's chosen not to do it.

I totally see OP's point about causing resentment later if she chooses the SAHM route.  (I wanted that the first week back at work, but I came around to loving part-time work as a balance for me.)  Her husband is working ONLY to get to FIRE, so her lack of income will delay that and extend his horrible work life, and, of course, the accompanying daily bitching.  If I were the OP, and if my husband constantly bitched about work, I'd hate to extend that bitching for another XX years. 

Then again, is he just the unhappy type?  Will he retire and still bitch daily, only then within shouting distance all day long?  In that case, become a SAHM now so you can at least have some bitch-free time before he comes home each day!

Noodle

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Re: SAHM(hood) for me vs FIRE for my husband - aka "am I stealing his dream?"
« Reply #23 on: October 08, 2015, 04:54:10 PM »
One thing I am not hearing in this discussion is "our" goals. I hear about DH's goal to leave a soul-sucking job. I hear about your desire to stay home with the baby. But you haven't said anything yet about what you both want for your family. I think it is wonderful and a credit to your marriage that you both want to support each other, but the answers will come much easier if you have a shared vision for the family ahead of negotiating "his" vs "hers."

Before anybody quits anything, I would have a lot more conversations. Not with the goal of having your husband reach some level of clarity that you find acceptable, but just to explore what this new reality of baby means. What exactly does your husband mean by retirement? Most here mean not working for money unless they want to, but it seems DH still envisions work? Full-time, part-time, what? Why doesn't he see himself as a SAHP? Not that everyone is best suited to be one, but children need different things at different ages. Someone who doesn't really handle the baby stage well might be terrific with a goofy four-year-old. How did he arrive at 2 MM? If you really pitch in and rethink that spending you wanted carved out, could you reduce other costs to lower that number? Are there changes that seemed too big before that you are willing to accept now that being SAH is in the mix? If DH is having trouble envisioning a positive future--honestly, that's not unusual if he's really burned out with work etc. Some people need a break to clear their heads before they can move forward. You've got plenty of cash on hand--what if DH takes a sabbatical for a few months on the proviso that at the end he either gets another law job or has a plan?

And while I empathize with the desire to stay home with baby, in the meantime keep in mind that you are doing him good by giving Grandma time to bond with him and letting him learn to experience different people. I had a friend many years ago, a single mom, whose son reached preschool age without ever having spent a night away from her. When she needed emergency surgery, it made the situation twice as bad because Son was so traumatized by having Mom disappear.

Krnten

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Re: SAHM(hood) for me vs FIRE for my husband - aka "am I stealing his dream?"
« Reply #24 on: October 08, 2015, 06:14:50 PM »
Quote
I am 4 days into my first week back at work after a 7 month Maternity Leave (one month of which was before the baby) and want to quit to be a SAHM.
Oh, be careful! So many folks have had that feeling as they go back to work, and it's only your first week back. It's a really wrenching, emotional transition. Of course you'd rather be at home with your baby - every mother does. Tread gently here and give yourself plenty of time to adjust.


Yeah, I wouldn't be making any big decisions about quitting your job right now.  Give it some more time.  Sounds like you had a very good situation right now with your MIL and working from home.  Think about all of your options for a few months (various part time work, starting own business, career change, etc).

+1.  You're still new at being back.  Give it a few more weeks at least!