But life changes. Nothing lasts forever. My husband decided to move the family back to Ukraine, so I had to leave my job. When we moved back to America, going back to that same work just wasn't an option. Things had changed too much. The group I had worked for had rearranged itself, was no longer run by the same person, and there was only room for me to work with them sporadically. So I went back to work somewhere else, with a different supervisor and different childcare.
But life changes. Nothing lasts forever. I got sick, so I had to leave my job. Basically, in a nutshell, I used up all my sick leave and was told after another three day hospital stay I could resign or be fired. And that's how I became a stay-at-home mom.
Since then, at least once a year, I wonder if this is what I should be doing with my life. There are things I miss about working. There is a certain feeling of worth that comes from earning a paycheck and being seen as a professional by others. As much as I tell myself I shouldn't care what other people think of me, I'm human and I do like when people think well of me. I liked the respect I had earned in the past and valued the reputation I had been building up. I also missed the camaraderie of coworkers. While I am definitely not a group project kind of girl, I do like having friends. Again, I'm human. One of the hardest things about being a SAHM is the solitude (just Google SAHM and you will find a gagillion articles and blogs about being lonely). I also honestly miss the work. I liked what I used to do. It was fun for me. It was what I went to college to do. It was a meaningful use of my time and skills.
So here we are ten years later and I am again looking at my life now, my family right now, and wondering if being a SAHM is still the best thing for the five of us. As much as I love sharing nap time with my toddler, I wonder if I should be back out there being a professional again . . . and if there is even room for me out there still. Have I been gone too long? Experience tells me going back would be hard, but I also know hard is not impossible. Where there's a will there's a way. But is that what I should do? Going beyond the can, is there a must? Does my family need the income? Do I need all the other benefits of working?
|A large part of my days now.|
And can my family afford to have me working? The reality is work costs. It means getting childcare set up and figuring out solutions for days off school, both the planned and unplanned ones. It means added transportation and wardrobe costs. And it means someone else is spending time with my kids. I know when I was a working mom, I was still The Mom and still had quality time with my daughters, but it was not the same as what I have gotten to experience as a SAHM being the one to get them ready in the morning, greet them when they come home from school, drive them everywhere, sit on the couch with them when they are sick, play board games with them on snow days, etc. Is that something I can give up now? How much do my kids need specifically me and is it ego answering or reality? Am I just taking the easy way out, equating hard with impossible, or am I really thinking about what is best for all five of us?
For now, the answer is I should continue to be a SAHM. There are pros and cons, challenges and rewards either way, but when everything is added up, my kids need me more than I need to work. I'm not in anyway suggesting working moms aren't serving their kids. Just to be clear, I fully believe that working moms are moms just as equally as SAHMs. They love their kids and provide for them in a plethora of ways. They do what is best for their specific families. This post is about my decision for my family alone, and when I look back at the past couple months, I know I would have been called away from any job I had enough times to risk losing it. I know I would have had to choose between taking care of my kids when they needed extra help and putting my all into a job (as Ron Swanson would say, I would be half-assing two things instead of whole-assing one). In one day alone I had medical issues for all three girls requiring three different doctors. The morning chats have become increasingly serious and the afternoons have become increasingly busy. Adding up my continued health issues which on their own limit what I can do in a given day plus my daughters' physical and mental health requirements, I cannot say that going back to work would be best for us. My bank account may disagree, the well-meaning people who keep telling me their ideas for me going back to work may disagree, and the people who view my lifestyle as less-than may disagree, but at the end of the day the priority is my family's health and well being. So, for now, I will keep things as they are. I will continue to volunteer knowing that I can get my experience doing what I used to get paid for but with the option of canceling if my kids need me or my health turns bad. It may not be as much as other moms or may seem on the surface like I do very little, but the core of my work will just have to be hidden a little while longer.
|My bosses ... for now.|
Maybe next year will be different. After all, life changes. Nothing lasts forever.