Thursday, April 19, 2012

Since you asked

So I've been thinking about the topic of work because I sometimes hear comments like:
"I would do anything to stay home with my kids."
"I would do anything to have the opportunity to go back to work again."
"When I have kids there is no way I'm going to be able to stay home with them."
"When I have kids I am staying home because that is the only way to make sure they are raised correctly."
"When I have kids I am going to have a magical perfect combination of a well paid part time job and staying at home with my children."

Going back to work was a decision that I struggled with and am often asked about, so I thought I would just offer my uninvited insights here.

SIDEBAR:  Despite the recent political hubbub I'm not going to start with a manifesto on how being a mother IS working and a full time job.  I know this.  When I say "work" I'm talking about "working outside the home" without any insinuation that being a mother is not working.    That is a no-brainer.  Moving on.

When I was pregnant the comments directly to me were more like:
"OBVIOUSLY you are not going back to work, there is just no way"
"OBVIOUSLY you are going to have to work forever to pay for all those girls" 
"How could you ever find someone competent enough to take care of your kids?  But then again how will you stay home and not go insane?  OMG what are you going to do?"  Jeez.  Chill random lady.  I'm crazy enough without your anxiety.

And now:
"Since you are back to work is your life totally crazy and unmanageable?" 
"Don't you feel like you are just totally missing out on all of your kids milestones?" 
"Aren't you glad that you aren't stuck in that house all day and you get to be around other adults?"

Wait, so there is no perfect solution?  Really???  Go figure.  At any rate, my answer or observation on any of the above is probably different every day (more like every hour).

Although I'll admit I find it a bit odd when strangers make observations on such a personal topic, it doesn't really bother me all that much.  It just shows the importance of this component of our lives and it highlights what a tough decision it can be for all parents.  I guess it is just part of the equation in our never-ending quest for the perfectly happy and balanced life.

I went back to work full time.  That is just what worked out best for us and it was a very hard decision that I am sure we will constantly reevaluate as our life evolves.  I am fortunate that my girls are in the care of someone in whom I have unwavering trust.  There are a multitude of factors in the decision (and rest assured I could give you a very thorough analysis with a spreadsheet), but trust is far and away the most important in my book.

For me, it was also primarily a matter of what would make me a better mother and I believe that working away from the house helps me do that.  It is just the way I am wired at this point in time.  I need to channel my energy in multiple places, physically and mentally.  There are lots of ways to do that without working outside the home but the best way I know is my job.  It helps me to appreciate my girls more when I'm up with them early in the morning or late at night and that appreciation drives much of my attitude and endurance.   Do I wish that I was good at that type of appreciation without an outside influence?  OF COURSE.   But I'm not.  I am always trying to do better at the appreciation factor for all things in my life.   Some people are just the opposite and not going back to work makes them a better parent.  Some people find it best to do some of both.  How great that we have the right to do whatever works best for our individual families, despite how difficult one or the other may seem?

Most days I get up early and get the bottle train running on time as if we are playing beat the clock.  I get to work some mornings and wonder how I even managed to get dressed much less make it to the building safely.  I have those moments where I'm in the middle of doing something at work and I wonder what my little angels are doing at home that I'm missing.  I may fail to do an important task at work and question my ability to handle my life.  Nonetheless, its working for the moment and so we will keep it going.

I truly don't know if my decision is good or bad and don't think that anyone else does either.  All I know is that sometimes the decision is a choice and sometimes it is a necessity, but it is all about what you feel makes you able to be the best parent you can be.  Either way you will be amazed at what you can handle.

And now, I shall go drink wine.  Cheers.


  1. Great post Sage!


  2. My favorite comment lately was... "You get so much more free time since you work." - from a stay at home mom with twins who go to preschool 3 days a week from 8-3.

    Ya that must be it, work gives me more "Free Time"

  3. Found my way over from Lisa's blog. This is a great, throughtful post. I am a working mom and it's not easy, but it was necessary for me to work AND I do believe it's good for daughters to see successful career women! Ideally, I'd work part-time or something, but that is elusive.
    Good job mama :)