A while ago, I asked (via Facebook) whether those of my parent friends were stay at home, working full time or working part time and whether they would change their situation if they could. The responses I received both directly to the post as well as via private message showed that this is a subject that many feel strongly about and are happily willing to discuss. I asked the question partially out of curiosity but also because I had been going back and forth about what to do myself.
Before I had Molly, I was a firm believer in going back to work full time. Both my parents did it – mom as a teacher and dad as a country club manager – so I didn’t know any different than being raised by 2 working parents. I always thought it was incredibly important to keep doing something that exercises your mind in a different way than staying home does. I also didn’t think I would be fulfilled JUST being a mom (that JUST being a mom is a lot more jam-packed than it looks to someone who doesn’t have any children. Now is the time where I admit my naivety!) I thought I would need something outside of the house to keep me happy, driven and successful.
Then I became a mom.
Having Molly has opened my eyes to a completely new world which is far less self-prioritizing than I ever imagined. I marvel at her every development, hang on every smile and giggle, watch in amazement as she does something slightly stronger or with more determination today than she did yesterday. I look forward to bath time every single day as I know she is going to kick and splash and laugh the entire time. I’m always excited to see her when she wakes up in the morning, even if she’s given me a hell of a night (TEETHING!). I look for ways to make her laugh, jump at every chance to give her a cuddle, sing her a song or read her a book, and it makes me incredibly happy to be the one she wants or needs when she’s just having an off day. Staying home with her would make me happy. Teaching her new things everyday would fulfil me in a way that cannot be described. She is a wonderful little person and watching her transform amazes me every single day.
But then there’s me.
I went to a great university (thank you mom & dad!), graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, managed to get a job at one of the most competitive financial companies out there and have worked my tushy off for the last 7.5 years. Did I really want to just walk away from that? It’s a lot to give up without being 100% sure that it’s the right decision. I’ve gone back and forth several times and took a 3 month leave of absence after maternity leave to give me more time with Molly and more time to decide what to do.
There are pros and cons to working full time, working part time or deciding to leave the corporate world for a job at home. And more often than not, one person’s “pro” is another person’s “con”. Everyone’s situation is different and there is no one, RIGHT way to be a parent when it comes down to work (hard to believe for some). I have an amazing, supportive husband who would have been behind any decision I made. He never once tried to sway me in any direction and is a firm believer that both of our careers are equally important. He listened to my concerns with each scenario and offered his opinion but never with the intent of persuasion (lucky girl, huh?)
In the end, I requested a Flexible Work Arrangement, asking to work 3 days a week. That means earning 60% of both my salary and vacation days (bummer!). It also means changing my job function so I’m not in a role with daily dependencies, which I’m certain will require me to work that much harder at the whole “self-promoting” concept. But I chose to work part time because it makes the most sense in my current situation. Leaving Molly everyday wasn’t an option for me, but giving up a career that I’ve worked so hard at until now felt a bit like I was abandoning myself. So I’ll be in the office 3 days a week and at home the other 2.
I know going back to work is going to be difficult. Leaving Molly is going to break my heart every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and I’ll probably spend hours scrolling through the thousands of pictures and videos I have of her on my phone (don’t tell my boss!). But I think I have made the right decision for me and for our family at this point in our lives. It will be good for me to get back to prioritizing myself occasionally and to continue accomplishing things professionally while earning a bit of money (a girl’s got to be able to buy some shoes!).
And hey – if the part-time decision I made now turns out to be the wrong one, I’m lucky enough to have the opportunity change it!