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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.

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Comments

  1. this is interesting, I love how the comparison chart with the pros and cons, the one thing that stuck out to me when I read it was… I am a bit jealous. I wish I had the opportunity to choose. The end result of me working right now is that we cannot pay all out bills if I don’t. I feel like you should add to the pros the ability to choose!! Either way, don’t beat yourself up about it, whatever you decide is okay. I think that is one thing women like to do, beat ourselves up because we aren’t perfect. No one is, and thats ok!
    Monica Froese recently posted…I’m okay with my baby pouchMy Profile

  2. I know its a hard decision but I know that I will NEVER regret this time with my kids. I homeschool and stay home with them all day long and I give up everything to do it. But, I KNOW that, when they are grown, I will NEVER say “I wish I had finished college and worked instead of being with my girls.” Never, never, never!!! THEY are my job, their future is my career, their well being is my legacy. I put all I have into it and I know that I’m right! 🙂
    Best of luck on your decision!

    • Tiffany– your response is very passionate (which is great!). When I read it, it came off like you feel as if staying home is the only choice. This may be your reality (which is also great) but I do hope you respect others for a different choice.

      (on an unrelated note, I had a lot of typos in my original response, ooops!)
      Monica Froese recently posted…working all day and nightMy Profile

  3. This reminds me of pro/con lists I used to make as a teenager when I had big decisions to make. Somehow writing it out in two columns helped me process, even if it didn’t make it clear which was the column to choose. I agree with Monica that it’s great to have the option to choose, not that it actually makes the situation any easier. There’s guilt and doubt enough to go around. Just remember, whatever you decide, it’s not permanent. You can change your mind again as circumstances change. And they will change because life constantly evolves.
    Laura recently posted…The Futile Enterprise of Cooking for KidsMy Profile

  4. It’s definitely a tough decision; for me, I love working but there definitely some cons (and I absolutely love the side-by-side comparison). I actually wrote a post about this subject yesterday – Unapologetic Working Mom – I’m Happy With My Choice http://bit.ly/wrkgmom. I think no matter which way we moms go there is always a twinge of guilt (when we work) or longing for more (when we stay-at-home). We all just have to find what works best for us (to keep us sane) and our families (to keep us happy). You will eventually figure out the magic formula! 😉
    Carin Clark @Mrscpkc recently posted…The Ultimate Blog Challenge Is Over – Next Steps for MrscpkcMy Profile

  5. A tough choice for sure! My blog is bout how I left a great career to spend more time with my kiddos, it was the reason I started blogging. I wanted to have co-workers, feedback, be challenged and in a virtual way I get all of those things still. I did the full time plus working when they were babies, I even breastfed for a year via pumping for all three of my kids while working. (In a totally male dominated work place!) I am so much happier having time with them, and getting my social needs met through the blog world. That said it was a HUGE financial adjustment. So I guess there is no right or wrong answer, as long as you love your kids and always try to do your best no matter your situation, then you will find happiness.
    My 2 cents worth.

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