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To Work or Not to Work?

photo via http://www.forbes.com/sites/sabrinaparsons/2011/10/22/working-mother-magazine-salutes-2011-working-mothers-of-the-year/

photo via http://www.forbes.com/sites/sabrinaparsons/2011/10/22/working-mother-magazine-salutes-2011-working-mothers-of-the-year/

To work or not to work. Every new mother’s never-ending dilemma.

After my nine week maternity leave, I returned to my demanding, stressful, but fulfilling career that I had always loved before having a baby. I quickly realized how challenging it was going to be to balance work and home life. I was distracted and sad when I was at work. I was exhausted and impatient when I was home with the baby at night. I felt like I was doing everything half-assed. At some point, something’s gotta give, right? With a full-time (and then some) job, a traveling husband, and a newborn, I knew I had to reduce my responsibilities. And so, the only logical solution at the moment was to put my career temporarily on hold.

I decided I’d give myself one year at home. One year, spent enjoying every moment with my baby, while taking care of two other children part-time to supplement a little income. It sounded like the perfect happy medium. As it turns out, stay at home mommyhood wasn’t much easier than the mayhem of being a working mother. I missed the fulfillment I felt from having a career and the social interaction that I had enjoyed at work. I was still exhausted and impatient at night after long days of chasing children. And now, I find it frustrating that after a year and a half of motherhood, I still feel as though I haven’t fully adjusted. I haven’t figured out how to balance my responsibilities as a mother while trying to seek satisfaction as a professional woman. Apparently, in this situation, it seems like the grass will always be greener.

As my one year at home comes to an end, I’m debating that same simple question. To work or not to work? I’m finding it equally as difficult to make a decision as it was 18 months ago after my son was born.

I decided to put together a pros and cons list to help me try to work out the answer to the age old question… To work or not to work?

Pros Cons
Co-Workers! Other adults with similar interests readily available to speak to at any time. I might actually get to say more than 2-3 word phrases for the majority of the day. Co-Workers… My social skills are probably limited at this point, since I spend the majority of my time babbling with a baby. I will definitely need to gain some confidence in the social department before trying to make some friends at work.
Simply GOING to work. I will get to leave the house every single day, enjoy some alone time in the car listening to loud music, and then will spend eight hours without a child attached to my hip. Actually Going to Work. If I decide to take a job, I will be forced to be somewhere, dressed and showered, every day. I will need to be out of house and at work on time. I will need to pack for my son, get him to day care, and then actually leave him without crying or having a ridiculous, guilty mother break down every morning.
Lunch Hour. If I’m lucky enough to find a job that will enforces a lunch hour (I know I hardly ever took a lunch in my last position…. But one can dream), I will get to sit at a table with other adults and actually eat an entire meal without singing nursery rhymes to try to distract my toddler enough to force feed him some vegetables. Lots of hours away from baby. Of course, I might enjoy a lunch hour sans baby, but will I like being away from him all day? I mean, he drives me insane for a decent part of the day simply because he’s a toddler, but I do love the kid to death. I know I totally complain about his dependence on me,  but am I similarly (secretly) dependent on him?? Am I ready to leave him all day?
Bathroom Breaks. I will get to go to the bathroom at least once or twice a day without anyone else in the stall with me. Ah, it’s the little things in life. Bathroom Breaks. Yeah, no cons to this one. I miss peeing alone.
Daycare. My son will attend day care. He will learn to enjoy time away from me. He won’t be so desperately attached to me at all times. He will make some baby friends. And the best part, I can run an errand or get a quick workout in before I pick him up. Daycare. Having managed a daycare center for several years, will I be that crazy, overbearing mother who has insane expectations? Probably. I can tell you that I will definitely be secretly jealous of whatever teacher is caring for my son, no matter how amazing she is, just because she is getting to spend a significant amount of time with my precious baby.
Finances. It would definitely be nice to be contributing a little bit more to the financial status of our household. Finances. While I definitely want to contribute to our household income, after considering the cost of day care, I may actually be losing money if I decide to accept a position over nannying part time and getting paid under the table.
Kickstarting my Career. I’ve worked hard as hell to graduate from college, pursue my Master’s degree, and obtain four professional teaching certifications. For the amount of student loans I still need to pay off, I sure as hell better use that shit at some time in my life. Having a Career. The issue with having a job as a mother is the constant amount of guilt that I feel for pursuing my dreams over staying home and spending valuable time with my child that I know I can’t get back. Is it worth it to give that up in pursuit of a career?


So there it is. A pros and cons list, nice and neat, in table format. Now, if only making the final decision felt so precise and organized. The only thing I can do is what feels right for our family at this exact moment and hope for the best. And avoid second guessing myself and my decisions as a mother and a career-oriented woman. Oh yeah, and as always, have a glass or wine (or two) to make it all a little bit easier.

Have some pros or cons to add to my list? Or some awesome motherly advice??? Leave me a comment below. I’d love to hear your feedback.