People often assume my husband and I are wealthy. I mean, I stay at home with my baby, of course we’re wealthy. But we’re not. We’re poorer now than we’ve ever been, and these past 19 months have been very hard financially.
Consequently, I’ve been considering going back to teach in the fall. My toddler would be turning two, meaning she would have spent her first two years with me. Meaning, she would be at the age where she would probably enjoy spending her days with other kids, right?
You see, when I first became a stay-at-home mom, I actually kind of wished I had gone back to work. I even told one mom that I may have been better-able to avoid those baby blues had I kept working and had been able to be around people.
But, I suppose I have now adjusted to my new life, for when I think about going back to work, my heart breaks. How can I leave her?
I love our days together. I love my days which are solely focused on her and our household. We can leisurely get groceries together, eat breakfast without a rush, take naps together as she nurses.
When I first got used to motherhood, I used to long for those times when she’d fall asleep and give me an hour to myself. I’d run off to go sit on the couch like I used to before I became a mom. I would watch t.v., read a book, eat some delicious treat. Now, I lie beside her for as long as I can. I snuggle her. I savor her. For one day she will not want to sleep with Mama anymore. One day, I may have to go back to work and miss her for long stretches.
For all those people who try to say being at home is just as hard as working, I do not think that would be the case for me. Yes, being with her 24/7 when she was a high-needs infant was exhausting and simply the hardest thing I had ever done.
But now, now that she’s older and a little more independent, my days are so much less exhausting. I can organize my week by what activity she and I will do, what chore I will tackle. But when I think of working, I think of early morning hustles out the door to daycare and early-evening rushes to pick her up, take her home, feed her, bathe her, and put her to bed. The whole evening feels pressed together in my imagination. I seem frazzled. I can feel my weekends getting piled with all the chores I didn’t do all week.
With a husband who works out of town all week and is only home on weekends, the thought of going back to work is overwhelming, and I applaud women who do it. I simply have a hard time fathoming how you do it all within your limited time-frame.
When I think of my mother who worked full-time, I remember her constant state of stress. She spent her time at home doing all the chores and all the cooking she couldn’t do when working. When I was a kid, I remember her being busy. I remember those rare times she let loose to laugh and play because they were so rare that they were precious. I remember, in all honesty, telling people throughout my teens and early to mid-twenties that I would not have children. I had felt like a burden growing up, not because my mom was a bad mother but because she had too much to do and too little time in which to do it. It made me reluctant to have children for a long time. As I spend more time contemplating going back to work, I find I do not want that for me or for my child.
But in our modern economy, I guess I am blessed that I even had a choice to stay home for my baby’s early years. It required a lot of financial sacrifice, a bigger sacrifice and more financial stress than many are willing to deal with.
In the long-term, who knows if I will be happy or find fault with those sacrifices. I suppose only time will tell.
At this point, I still have no idea if I’ll go back to work soon, but I certainly hope that I find ways to adjust to it, find ways to be positive about the transition, and allow it to become the next new normal.
Perhaps a few working mothers can tell me more about how to find balance with careers and motherhood without becoming overwhelmed or exasperated.