Friday, September 2, 2011

Staying at home

I wrote this almost two weeks ago and thought I might tinker with it, but never did.  I haven't even read it in a week and don't really want to, because it makes me sad, but I do want to have it posted.


I’ve been thinking a lot about working vs. staying home. I LOVE being home. So much so the thought of going back to work practically gives me panic attacks. Yet as much as I want to stay home and never go to work again, I still can’t decide if I want to quit my job. (And I do mean whether I want to quit. If I decide I DO want to quit, whether I actually quit would be another decision entirely. I’m frustrated I can’t even figure out what I want, let alone what I should do.)

I like my job. At times, I love it. I can’t imagine giving up that part of my identity. Even now (on leave), I like that I still have a job, even though I love not going to my job. I had training last week (once you’re past six weeks, maternity leave is considered vacation and you’re not allowed to take vacation on a training day). I was dreading it. Once I was there, though, I kind of enjoyed it. The training was pointless, but I enjoyed sitting in a calm room, with a bunch of adults I know and (mostly) like, using my brain, and being talked to like an adult instead of a food source.

Then I came home and as I sat there nursing Paul and reading to Meg, I felt like this is where I was MEANT to be. In that moment, and for the rest of the afternoon, even when the baby wouldn’t let me put him down for a single second and Meg threw a fit about taking a nap, I was certain. I want to be home. All the time. Without a doubt. I didn’t do anything about it – even talk to my husband. I was relieved I finally had it figured out, but I wasn’t quite ready to do something about it.

Then I read a book today. One of the main characters was a woman who’d semi-recently quit her job to stay home with her two children. She had trouble with the fact her home and children were basically her entire life now, whereas they were a much smaller part of her husband’s life. She had friends, of course, but her husband’s job was this HUGE part of his life that didn’t involve the family and she didn’t have anything similar. I guess that was more of a marriage issue, though, since she mainly wanted him to care as much as she did (or at least care more).

I like that my job is a part of my life my family isn’t a part of. I don’t want to give that up. If I wanted the job just for the sake of having a job , I’d think that was kind of stupid, but I also LIKE my job. Also, even though I like being home more, maybe I wouldn’t like it as much if I was always at home. When I’m not on leave I work 3.5 days/week and am home 3.5 days. I always wish I had more time at home. But what if seven days would be too much? Though, it hasn’t been too much for the last 8 weeks, so maybe that’s an irrelevant fear. What I’m trying to say, though, is do I need more in my life than just raising children? Obviously, if I was a SAHM I could find things to do here and there out of the house (and my mom LOVES to babysit), but the whole point of quitting would be for the majority of my time to be focused on the kids.

When I think about this, I compare the best days at home to the best days at work. But there are bad days at work, too. I’d guess I love my job 20% of the time, like it for 40%, and dislike it 40% of the time. Whereas, at home, I think I love it 33% of the time, like it for 33%, and dislike it 33%. Does that mean I should choose home? I can’t decide if the days at home are better enough to give up the days at work. Also, if I had to think more or worry more about money, would the balance of like/dislike at home change?

Then there’s the fact Paul haaaaates bottles. Has since the day he was born. I thought it would get better with time, but it’s gotten worse (and not for lack of practice). I can’t imagine how guilty I’ll feel being at work and knowing he’s fighting every feeding and trying to hold out until I get home. I don’t think I could do it. In fact, I’m kind of hoping he goes on a hunger strike when I go back, which would make my decision easier.

I constantly go in circles like this. Discussions on whether I should stay home have always come down to: well, my mom watches the kids for free and I do like my job… That’s a hard argument to overcome. But I think at this point I really do want to quit. I like my job, but I love being at home so much more. For now, though, I’m going to give working another shot. I’ll be working on things I especially like when I first come back, so hopefully it won’t be too bad. Quitting would be a huge life change, one that would take a lot more family discussion and planning, so we’re not there yet.


  1. You know, I don't have experience making this decision at all, but I feel for you. It does seem so complicated and not the black and white issue of: Do you want to work OR stay home? Keep thinking about it, talking about it and working through it. And realize that whatever decision you make is the right decision, and that no decision has to be permanent.

    Thinking about you!

  2. Oh, it's such a tough, heart-wrenching decision. I totally agree with Holly re. no decision has to be permanent.

    I've had to think about this decision twice and it's always a challenge. As you know, we can take up to 1 year here in Canada. While I was on leave with Teddy, though, our organization underwent a strategic review and though my job is still being done, it's no longer in my organization so my box on the org. chart disappeared. I had to find something else, which was a pain. As such, I pretty much HAD to go back at the end of leave.

    I went back pregnant, though, and we planned for me to take some unpaid leave at the end of my leave with Veronica. That's where I am now. We saved like fools and I'll be off for a year. After that extra year, things get more complicated with returning to work so I'm not sure what's next. Please know that I recognize how insanely fortunate I am to be able to have this flexibility.

    I am not you, but I can say that I don't feel like "I have no life outside the kids". It is a HUGE portion, of course, but not all.

    Big internet hugs headed your way as you wrestle with this. You will make the best decision for your family - you're acting out of love for them. xoxo