Monday, January 8, 2007


Time for some brainstorming. Starting with: Why did I make the decision to go back to work?

• Because they value me there, and to be wanted and needed is a nice feeling.
• Because I hate to let them down.
• Because the extra money would be very nice.
• Because I am afraid of losing my edge and my skills and my hireability with a break in my resume if I become a stay-at-home mom.
• Because so much of how I see myself — my identity — is based on my job as a writer and reporter and editor. Giving that up would be scary (unless I shifted into freelance work).
• Because going to an existing job is so much easier than taking the big leap into freelancing.
• Because my job puts me in a larger world where I know people and have some influence.
• Because staying home all day with a baby would be so hard.
• Because I may start to crave the adult company and intellectual stimulation.
• Because part-time work is a nice, flexible balance that many women would love to have. Am I crazy to give that up?

And why am I now doubting that decision?

• Because I love this boy in my lap so much it hurts to think of being apart from him.
• Because no matter how hard taking care of — and rearing — a baby is, I am not sure I want to hand the job over to anyone else.
• Because the idea of starting something new, like freelancing — on my own time and schedule — could be very exciting. And I've been thinking about it for several years, and maybe now is the time to get going with it.
• Because Daniel is only going to be little once.
• Because we don't need the extra income and could live on Stephen's if we chose to. (And I'm on his health insurance now.)
• Because I like the flexibility of our days — sleeping in until whenever he's ready to get up, going on outings and walks, and not having to be anywhere at any specific time.
• Because I don't want to expose him to a room full of eight other babies' germs, especially if we decide not to vaccinate him 100 percent, or according to the typical schedule.

A couple of years ago, I applied for a job at my work that would have been a promotion. I'd been in a rut, and this seemed like an obvious way to advance in my career and learn some new skills. After I submitted the application, and especially after I made the cut to the next round, it started to gnaw at my stomach, big time. Steve and I were trying to have a baby, and I knew that if I got this job, it would mean more hours and more stress at a time when I really wanted less of both. I agonized about it for a while and ended up withdrawing my application; afterward, it felt so right, but until the moment I did it, I really wasn't sure if it was the right decision ... or if I was one of those people who is afraid of success. It all worked out; the guy they hired is absolutely the right person for the job, and I have loved working for him. And almost a year after that, I got pregnant!

This must be a pattern with how I make decisions because I'm doing it again now: Taking a step toward something — securing a slot in a daycare, for instance — and seeing if it feels right or if I get the knots in my stomach. It's not an intentional plan to try out an option; more a gut reaction that crops up after I've taken the step toward it. So I've got some knots. Especially after Christmas, when I saw Daniel interact with lots of people and saw how he was a good sport for a while but always ended up wanting to be with Stephen or me, and how glad I always was to get him back. Ugh. I need to get clear on what to do.


Monkeymama said...

I hope you can land on a plan that works for you all. It is such a tough spot to be in, wanting to be both in the world and home with you baby at the same time. If only babies could be brought to the office like some places let you bring dogs. I know though, at least with Beck, I wouldn't have gotten any work done if that were the case!

Cynthia said...

Emilie, I liked that you are tying to weigh the pros and the cons of this decisions, but as you said in your post, you have to do what "feels" right, for you, your son, and your family.
I don't know if a list will help you in that matter.
It's a tough decision, but as you stated in your post, your tummy relaxed once you made a decision that "felt" right and that you thought were right.
It's hard to reason sometimes with our logical mind about what to do in every situation. We have to some time go with our feelings.
Maybe I shouldn't get preachy here, but I've always felt that when we eventually find peace about a troublesome decision, that is when God has given us his approval and said, "well done, my child."
In my life, when there has been no peace, something has been wrong.

Emilie said...
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Emilie said...

Cynthia, I agree with you that it needs to be what "feels" right. And writing my thoughts and feelings all out in lists does tend to help me (and not just from a logical standpoint): If you look at it, the "go to work" list has a lot of fear and apprehension in it — what-ifs, fear of losing my identity, fear of letting go and trying something new, etc. And the "stay at home" list feels like it has more love, contentment, possibility. That tells me something. Of course, maybe I'm just rationalizing. :) The idea of changing course is somewhat terrifying, too. I go back and forth every day.

Anne said...
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liz said...

I read once that the best way to make a decision is to flip a coin. When the coin lands, pay close attention to your gut. If you're secretly relieved or happy with the outcome, it was the right choice. If you are disappointed with the outcome, then your gut knows it wants the other choice. Either way, you'll know what to do. Of course, you're not bound by the coin flip, but it helps you crystallize how you REALLY feel!

Books have been written on this subject... and I certainly think about it plenty, as well! I know you'll find the best option for you, even if it takes a few tries to get it right. No option you choose is irrevocable - there's always room for tweaks.

Do you want the e-mail of a friend of mine who's a very successful freelancer? :)

Barbara said...

One thing to remember is that nothing's permanent. If you go back to work and absolutely can't stand it, or you're not happy with Daniel in day care, or whatever, you and Steve can always take another look at the situation.

I can see how easy it would be to feel torn in both directions. Wouldn't it be simpler if life made all of our big decisions either mostly good or mostly bad?

PS Loved the Xmas pics you posted earlier!

Susanne said...

Em, I know how it feels to have loose ends – not sure what to do. That’s why I’m always emailing you and Ellen for advice.

One thing that caught my attention was how a while back, you applied for a promotion at work, then withdrew your application. You further said how the decision (to withdraw) felt so right, even though this feeling didn’t occur until after you actually withdrew. Even though you would have liked to experience that gut feeling before you actually withdrew, at least you did eventually experience it.

Part time work is not the same as full time. You are not going full time, and the extra hours you’ll still be with Daniel will be invaluable. You could always go back (part time), with the intent of going into freelancing at some point. That way you could make it a goal to eventually be stay-at-home, even if not at this point in time.