I became a mother and our whole world changed. Cliché? Maybe, maybe just honest. When I was pregnant with our first child, we talked about how things would change when he was born, but I had no idea that our world would be flipped completely upside down upon his arrival.
Our son was born healthy and howling 5 ½ weeks early. We were not prepared at that point, mentally or materially, for his arrival. We figured it out fast. He spent ten days in the NICU and we brought him home at 36 weeks gestation. Before we even left the hospital I had begun to worry about going back to work.
I like my job. It pays well, I enjoy the people I work with, and it is interesting. I’m not sure what more I could ask for as an employee. There are things that are not so great, but I’m guessing that’s the case everywhere. I was able to use 6 weeks of sick leave post birth and 4 weeks of accrued vacation leave. I took the remaining 2 weeks unpaid. I broke up my leave as 8 weeks full time and 10 weeks part time. For us, looking back, it was a good decision. My husband went back to work after two weeks and then took part time leave when I started back. All and all we were able to hold off on needing childcare until he was almost five months old.
That brings us to right now. I am back to work full time. I am successful, I have a rewarding job and a happy baby. On the surface I would like to think that we look like we have adjusted well to this parenting thing. The reality is I am consumed with guilt over both taking him to a babysitter every day from now until he hits kindergarten and guilt over the fact that I want to quit my job. I want to work substantially less and spend more time with him. I want to raise my child myself. How can I quit my hard earned well paid job that allows my family to have extras and save money to put us in a much tighter financial situation? Is that selfish? Why should I get the opportunity and not my husband? Will I ever get back into my field? Make the same amount of money? Not likely.
How does one weigh the pros and cons of this when the pro is so much more important and positive than any con, but the cons will stick around and eat at you forever. I don’t think you can put a price tag on the time spent with your child when they are growing up and everyday I think about the fact that it is one more day I am missing with him. I can’t ever get them back.
How can we as parents expect to raise good children if we only see them for two hours each night and an hour each morning? I can see now why parents have a hard time saying no to their kids. When you only see them a couple hours each day, you don’t want to deal with cranky, angry children. It’s easier to pacify them with what they want so you can continue to like each other and not feel like you spend all your time together arguing. I don’t want that for my son.
Conclusion: we as a family know what we would like to see happen in our lives. Both of us would like to work less and spend more time guiding and raising our son. We would like to maintain our incomes if possible, if not, we need to supplement somehow. The problem lies in that we just don’t know how to get from here, successful, educated career professionals, to parents. At present, it’s a vicious cycle of talk and not act. Eventually, hopefully sooner rather than later, we are going to need to make the tough decisions. By putting our son first, I’m hoping that we can make the right decisions for our family.