Friday, November 24, 2006

do i stay or do i go?

This week we have been face to face with one of the big questions all new parents face: childcare and work. I've been avoiding and procrastinating for three months now (more, really), but on Monday, I started doing research; Tuesday, I made some phone calls; and Wednesday, I finally went and looked at a daycare center. It was a nice one — Montessori, a 1-to-3 teacher-child ratio, happy-looking babies in the place. I'll look at some more next week, and I'm also putting my feelers out for possible nanny/babysitter and home daycare options.

But the larger question keeps asserting itself: Do I want to go back to work? Or do I want to stay home with Daniel during these early years? If I go back to work, I only want to go part-time, and since that appears to be an option, it seems like the balance of part-time work and part-time home care is a no-brainer. But it's not such a no-brainer if I consider that I don't really want to be at my current job for the rest of my life, and if I am going to make a new start — to pursue a freelance career, for example — now seems like a good time to do it. We can afford to have me stay home, and with the cost of daycare/nannies, most of my part-time pay would be going toward childcare anyway— so really, I'd be working to pay for daycare when I could be staying home for the same amount of money. On the other hand, I could also look at it as a tradeoff that gives me some time away from 24-7 baby care — an opportunity to keep my skills up and interact with other adults — adults I happen to like a lot.

I've been at this job for more than eight years. I never expected to be there this long. There are other things I could do, other ways I could spread my wings. Yet part of me hesitates. My job is very secure. It's a sure thing, when quitting and trying something new carries risks. So do I go for the sure thing, or do I take some chances? It's a tough decision, and I go back and forth about it. That's why part-time work seems like an appealing solution for now — it could give me some time to pursue other options on the side. (Easier said than done — time is a scarce resource these days.) Steve has made it clear he will support me whichever way I decide to go.

That's my side of the issue. We also need to consider what is best for Daniel, and that brings up the very heated stay-at-home versus work debate, which I don't feel like rehashing here. Part of me wishes I could take a couple of years off and stay home with him until he goes to school. But ... do I really? Am I suited for that type of life? Even if I'm not, would I be willing to make the sacrifice? Would it be best for Daniel? Or would it be better to seek a balance? A happy baby needs happy parents. If mom is home all day but frustrated and unhappy, baby is going to be unhappy.

The clock is ticking. I need to make some decisions. Big ones — so much bigger than strollers.


Elizabeth M. said...

Oh, Emi, I wish I was there.

I'd live off unemployment to babysit Daniel for free!

But, you'd have to come home to change the diapers!

Love you, mean it,
Elizabeth M.

Missy said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Em. Choices are tough, but how wonderful to have the ability to make a choice. I was so upset about going back to work, I entertained ideas of moving to the country (far, far away) so we could live off my husbands income. I still am sad to work full time. I spend 2-3 hours a day with my child, except for the weekends when I'm with him every moment and rarely do anything for myself! It's tough, but I'm still so glad to be a mom. I'm sure you'll make the best decision for you and your family. :)

Ellen said...

Maybe you could try going to work part-time, see how it goes, and make a decision from there? But either way, I would say wait a few months still and get used to the routine at home. It's nice to have that time to clean and make food. Since I work full-time, I personally could not handle a kid in my life because I'm usually too tired to even cook for myself when I get home, let alone a family. I admire single mothers sooo much. So, if you can afford to stay home, at least for another few months or so, do it and Steve will feel like a read breadwinner, hehe......

Monkeymama said...

Prayers as you work this out - it's a tough one. Have faith that Daniel will have a happy childhood regardless of if he has a stay at home mama or not.

There isn't a right or wrong when it comes to this issue, which is why it is so tough for people with some freedom to choose.

LutherLiz said...

I feel for you Em. It is a decision I wonder how I'll make someday and I don't even have a kid!

The best part of your situation is that no decision needs to be permanent. You are blessed with the freedom to choose either one. If you are leaning towards work, go back to work for a few weeks and see how it goes. You may be thrilled to be back and being "wordy" again, or maybe you'll be miserable without your boy. I'm not sure you can answer that ahead of time.

Or do the opposite. Try to get an additional leave from work and continue to be at home and try to establish some freelance. If you still miss work then you can go back.

There is no wrong decision here...only what is best for you and your family. Nothing will be the perfect fit but you'll excell at any one you choose because that's the type of person you are. Good luck and keep us posted.

liz said...

Liz took the words right out of my mouth: thankfully, nothing needs to be permanent! You are blessed with a supportive husband who will help you craft a plan that works best for your family... and if it doesn't feel just right, you can craft and re-craft until it does.

I deeply empathize with you as I have given much, much too much thought to this topic for a person without children. (Much like strollers?) ;) Lots of hugs and prayers for you as you wrestle with these big questions!

Carrie said...

I feel your pain, this is one of the hugest decisions a woman has to make. whatever you and Steve decide, I know you will be happy -- good luck with all of this!