Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Working or Staying At Home?

I started an interesting topic yesterday and I think I’ll continue on with it…just because I’m a glutton for punishment. No, really, I like debates and my blog can be too sweet and nice and uck sometimes. So here we go……

Why do you work or stay at home? Honestly? I first want to start this by prefacing my thoughts so that no one gets the wrong idea. I have no opinions either way for any other family by my own. I personally believe that people choose to work or stay at home based on what’s best for themselves and for their families. And I truly believe that if you are secure in the choice that you have made for your family, you would not be knocking the other side. So if you are very secure in your decision to work (not saying you don’t have those days you change your mind) you have no reason to put down SAHMs, and visa versa. I have known some women that make off-handed comments to me about working, and are sure to make their points about how staying at home is better for the kids, but you can see in their eyes that they aren’t completely comfortable with the choices they have made for themselves…so they take it out on working moms.

I was this way for a while, only the opposite. I felt so guilty for working that I would think that SAHM had the easy life, and they were lazy, and every chance I got I would make some type of a comment to my husband or anyone that would listen about how much better it was for the kids to have the social learning and separation from parents because I worked. Then a couple of years ago it all clicked. I was very comfortable in my decision about working…I knew that it was best for my family. All of the hardness that I had in my heart for SAHMs disappeared, and I was able to appreciate all of the work that they do and the difficulties they encounter without feeling bitterly jealous.

I knew that I wanted to make my choice very carefully…no doing something just because, it had to be right. I always thought that I would stay home when I had kids…we started trying to have kids when I was at a job I hated (good old public accounting :) ). I got pregnant and thought all of my problems were solved…I would work until the baby was born and then quit and stay home! We had even purchased our first house on hubby’s salary knowing that I would stay home, so it wouldn’t have been a hard adjustment to live without my income. This is where God comes in with other plans. I had a miscarriage (I’m not in any way saying God did that, but the events that followed were led by Him). The whole process was absolutely devastating to me, and when I finally came out of my depression about losing the baby, I started to realize that my plans were messed up, and there was no way I could stay at this job any longer. So I started the process of looking for another job. I found a great one with McDonald’s/Chipotle. Right before I started working with them, I found out I was pregnant. I was so worried about telling this new job, “oh, by the way, I’ll be out for 12 weeks next spring”. But they were great! It was such a family friendly atmosphere and they were so supportive. So after I had my daughter I realized that I loved my job so much, and I had found a wonderful babysitter for her to go to everyday (she was the only one the babysitter was watching at the time). So that’s why I went back to work. When that job turned bad, I looked for another one, and now I work at a wonderful place with a boss that has two kids pretty close in age with mine, and her family is her top priority as well. And our controller (my boss’s boss) is a woman with 4 kids, so family is top on her list as well. I hardly ever work overtime…even during our busy time, and if I do, it’s at home on the computer that my company gave me so that I won’t miss out on any family time.

I look at it this way, for me, and thankfully I have a wonderfully supportive husband: I was me and working before my kids came along, and I’ll be me and working after they’ve left me. In my profession if I were to stop working for a long period of time it could end any career advancement I might have. So I compromise…I work, but my kids come way before any job or career, and I’m very comfortable in my decision.

So how about you ladies??? Why do you do what you do and how do you deal with yourself when you start questioning whether it’s the right decision or not?


Kellie said...

I have to admit that since your post yesterday, I've been thinking. About things that I guess were always there, but never brought to the surface. While I was pregnant with my daughter, I had some SEVERE anxiety issues. Normal? Probably not. Am I a freak? Most likely :) I was out of work for two months and returned to work when I was 4 months pregnant. To a job I DESPISED!! Oh how I HATED that place. I was taken out of work when I was 1 1/2 weeks from my due date and had intentions of returning. So much so, that I'd lined up childcare 4 months before my daughter was born. I'd taken tests to be promoted within the State and a month before I was set to return, I interviewed for and received a promotion. Nothing earth shattering, but it was better hours and nicer people and I'd actually have WORK to do. I was excited.

The day I was to go to the new job, I was a MESS. In tears. HUGE knots in my stomach. My daycare provider had bailed on me a month before and I'd yet to find daycare that was relatively affordable and trustworthy. My boyfriend's mother was going to watch my daughter. already long comment made short: I couldn't do it. I couldn't leave her. So, I declined the promotion and resigned from my State job. Settled into being a stay at home Mommy. Loving it. Liked that I didn't have to race against a clock in the mornings and deal with city traffic and juggle work and home and wouldn't have to worry that I wasn't seeing my child enough.

Now...while I like not having to be up at 5am and I like having the freedom to do as I want when I want, it's getting hard. Financially, he's always paid the bills. I paid my car pmt./insurance. My money from working outside of home would be sucked out for daycare and gas and parking expenses and the majority of my car payment.

Lately...I wonder if I'm doing more of a disservice to my daughter by being home with her. I wonder if it's my fault that she doesn't take to new people really well at first and I wonder if her not being around other children is harming her. I wonder if I'm slipping into the "bad" parent category because there ARE days that I feel disconnected and hate that every day is the SAME thing--no variation, 7 days a week.

I would NEVER knock moms who work outside of home AND at home. As I said yesterday, you all have my admiration and respect as I'm sure it's FAR from easy. At the same time, I don't knock SAHM's, either. I don't think I'm a good one, but I do it.

Good Lord, I'm sorry this is so long. Maybe I'll stop taking up comment space and blog about it on my OWN site.

Thank you, though, for getting people interacting and for getting the gears in my brain turning.

BTW: your kids are SO cute!!

Julie said...

I work for a couple of reasons. I do enjoy my job and financially it helps pay the bills. My job, while it's full-time, is quite flexible. I work 3 days a week from home and then in the office the other 2. If one of my kids is sick, I can keep them home with me while I work. If the weather is bad, I can work from home. If I don't feel like driving into the office I don't. Basically as long as I get my work done my boss doesn't care when or where I do it. The flexiblity allows me to drop the girls off later, and pick up earlier, at daycare. I can also be available for special school events/class parties/etc. whenever needed. So while I do work, I don't necessarily have a strict 9 - 5 job.

If I could stay at home I'm not sure it would be the best thing for me and my family. I enjoy working and do not feel guilty for having my children in daycare. It is a fact of life for us and we are all fine with it. My girls enjoy school and their time there. In fact many days when I come to pick them up they don't want to leave. I enjoy the challenge of my job and like what I do. Plus the salary provides with the means to live where we really want to, travel where we want and basically live the lifestyle we like.

I think the choice to work or SAH is totally up to the individual. You have to do what works best for you and your family. While we all may be similar none of us are in the exact same situation and it would be wrong to judge one or another depending on the choice they made (not that anyone here is being judgemental).

CPA Mom said...

Hey, you stole my thunder! I've been mulling over the very same topic. Hmmm...I'll save my comments for there but I will say this. I have to work. I have bills to pay and I have the earning power that HP does not. That said, I love working. Just not tax season....I envy SAHMs.

Rachel said...

When my oldest daughter was born, I had every intention of going back to work after 6 weeks. That was in 2000. Once she was born and my ex and I looked into childcare we realized that all, and I do me all, of my income would be paying for childcare. So, I made the decision to stay home. After about 2 months I decided to go to work part time for the IRS.

I worked at night from 6-10 so there was still no childcare expenses and it worked out well for us. But, we were still not making enough money to really make ends meet. I decided to go to work full time for the IRS which meant working from 6-2:30am. A move that I'm glad I made. I was able to be Kaylie's primary caregiver until she was approx. 16 months old.

My ex and I separated and I had to find work full time during the day. It was easier, I think, because I had been able to spend 16 months at home with her.

Fast forward to 2006. After I had Alyssa, I dreaded going back to work. I didn't have to leave Kaylie at 6 weeks and I didn't want to leave Alyssa. But, Chris and I had to have my income. If I didn't work the job I had I was going to have to find something at night, but I had to work.

It was a difficult decision for me. I wanted to be the one that took care of her and watched her discover new things every day. Luckily, I was able to find someone that I trust completely to take care of her. Alyssa loves her babysitter and I know she is well taken care of. I still wish I could be home with her, but, at the same time, I love my job. I'm a Mommy first and always will be, but I know that I would not be happy being at home all the time. It would be nice to be able to work part time, but, Chris's decision has made that no longer an option.

Danielle Meehan (Mom) said...

I chose to go back to work because I had to but I think that I would have regardless. Brian (DH) is a full time student right now and someone has to pay the bills and tuition right? It made it an easier decision because my work was so flexible and fabulous during the pregnancy. Jeffrey was born 11 weeks early (on the same day as Kellie's baby!) and they let me take as much as time as I needed. and since I work in the hospital that he was inpatient, they let me work goofy hours and pump every two hours as well as run up to see him all the time. Basically for two months they paid me to come in to the NICU.
Anyway, this is getting really long. Jeffrey was able to come home to me for 8 weeks, then my mother, and finally Brian had the summer off from school. I'm really happy that he started out with family but I'm glad where he's at now.
I think the perfect thing for me would to be able to work 3 or 4 days a week. I need that time away from home, but I adore him and feel guilty for the time I spend away from him.
I'm enjoying your blog. Thanks to Kellie for recommending it!

radioactive girl said...

I stay home because if I worked, I would be a nervous wreck and not good for working or my kids. I would always feel torn into a million pieces, and I honestly have no idea how working moms can do it all. I am in awe that working moms are able to keep their world going because for me it would be a huge stress.

I suppose I am a working mom now though because I got my home daycare license and watch two extra kids a few days a week. Honestly I stay home because I am very lucky to be able to choose to do so. I don't feel either way is better or worse inherently, but for me, working would not be good for our family. I'm lucky that it is a choice I can make. I agree though that since I am secure in my choice being right for me, I don't have the hostility towards either side that some moms do. If we all support each other, it is so much easier. I have some working mom friends that rely on me in pinches with daycare problems, and I am happy to help them. Isn't the saying that it takes a village to raise a child?