My daughter wasn’t more than a few weeks old before people started asking me this question: So, when do you plan to work outside the home? I never knew how to answer it because I never had any idea (actually, I still don’t). But when my daughter was an infant, it seemed completely impossible. I was just beginning to get to know my child and that’s where I wanted to be. It seemed super important for me to be with my kid and my husband felt the same way and for that we made sacrifices. Both of us. A lot.
For us, I like to believe it’s been worth it. But I’m not gonna lie, the early days or parenting weren’t easy financially or otherwise. I was constantly exhausted and overwhelmed and my husband likely was, too. But I can’t imagine how I would’ve felt about being away from my kid day in and day out. I’m not sure I could’ve handled that emotionally and given the costs of daycare, I don’t think it would’ve been worth it with what I likely would’ve been bringing home at the end of the week. Probably about enough to pay for groceries and that’s it. More power to the moms (AND DADS!) who can do it. I honestly think it’s amazing, truly. I know you’re thinking about your kid every chance you get and working to give them a better life. I know some of you don’t have the choice whatsoever. I know for some it makes your a better parent to work outside the home. But either way, I know you miss them all the time and I think you’re totally amazing.
I just want to have my cake and eat it, too. I want to get to work, but I also don’t want to leave my kid/s and so I’ve always worked in some form. When Piper was just a few weeks old I started seeing personal training clients at our home in the evenings and on weekends. I had begun writing and wrote a couple of pieces a month for a website that, to my shock and awe, had decided I was publishable. I always craved work outside of baby-maintenance and nursing and diapering but it wasn’t easy to fit in. It was hard and sometimes I felt selfish for trying to do it. But I needed to be with my kid and I needed to work and I didn’t see any realistic way around either of those things. So I found ways to squeeze it all in, sometimes staying up late, working on weekends or whatever I had to do. It hasn’t always been pretty, though.
Still I got asked the question- When are you going to work outside the home? Which always made me feel like people thought what I was doing wasn’t good enough. It’s true, I didn’t make that much money. Still don’t. But I am working and working hard in more ways than one and I feel good about what I’m doing here and now. I like working and I want to work and a lot of times I find it more fulfilling than being home with kids because kids never stop. And the non-stopness of it could totally give anyone a drinking problem. And I probably already have one so… fuck.
Taking care of kids is the most undervalued job ever. Do not think for a minute that I’m criticizing anyone who doesn’t feel that call to work outside of taking care of their kids because I’m not and I never would. I find the days where I don’t have time to retreat to the computer, to pound out my thoughts into the interwebs or get some sort of feeling of accomplishment back from the outside world the absolute hardest days. The parents I know that are home with kids all day without a break or a back-rub or a “hey, how feeling today? Good, great. You look nice, minus the spit-up in your hair” are my personal heroes.
In all honestly, I’m scared to go back to that place. I talk about it with my husband all the time. I’m about to have a new baby and for at least a few months know that I will never get a break. My work will be put on the back-burner again. My brain will probably not be functional enough to write anything because I find it really, really challenging to write something well thought out while being sucked on.
I’ll go back to the place of full-time mom when I had just gotten to a place of having mornings to work while my daughter is in preschool. I’m going back, back, back but this time I’m going to try and embrace it a lot more and ignore the “when are you going to work OUTSIDE the home?” question. Because I don’t know. If I can still write, teach a yoga class, great. If it doesn’t feel possible for a while, then it can and will wait until I’m ready. Maybe that should be my new response… “when I’m ready.” Or maybe, “when I fucking feel like it!” Jk. Kind of.
I’m not totally zen about it, as you can tell. I’m terrified. I feel like I’ve been digging these little paths for four years and I’m about to lose my way again. But if you see me around, please don’t ask me when I’m going to bite the bullet and leave my new baby and my four year old to go back to work because that’s what you think I should be doing. Just spare me. I’m already working pretty much all the time anyway even if you don’t want to see it.