I've always been very career oriented. Starting with college, then straight to graduate school, I knew I wanted to be a professional woman, with a great job. I wanted to make my own money, and never let that go. I watched my mother struggle with money after divorcing my father, and I swore that would never be me. She relied on my father for everything financial, and when we moved out and she got a job, our lifestyles changed dramatically, even with the alimony and child support. She made me promise to never rely on a man, to always have my own money. I promised and crossed my heart…
I just won the lottery of a working mother: I received approval to go part-time (20 hours) effective November 1. Initially I will work 8-16 hours of this in the office, but when we move to Colorado, I’ll work the 20 hours at home, remotely. I’m so excited to spend more time with Alex, and especially excited to not have her in daycare all day, every day. She will still be in daycare for 2 full days per week while we’re in Texas, and then 3 half days when we move to Colorado (the rest of the 20 hours will be done during naps or after bedtime), but that’s so much better than being there from 8-5:30 five days a week like she is now. Plus if this FET works (tomorrow is the transfer – holy crap!), it will be nice to be a little more relaxed during the pregnancy, especially after the next baby comes along. I can’t wait until the end of this month when my part-time schedule starts.
BUT… Occasionally I wonder if I’m doing the right thing. I’m cutting my salary in half, and so the budget is getting super tight. I currently make a little more than my husband, so when I go part-time, it’s a huge change in our family income. I've implemented a new budget effective October 1, and I have to say, it’s tough. Not that this is a bad thing, but I’m constantly questioning every purchase – do I need this, can I go without? And I feel bad about restricting my husband’s spending. Going part-time has not exactly been a family decision. He didn't say no, but he really doesn't see the value in it, so he wasn't super supportive. I told him that I really appreciate the opportunity to do this, and I think it will be very good for our family, but he didn't really respond. I told him that I understand this puts a lot of pressure on him, as he’s searching for a job right now, and having to turn down certain opportunities as he’s the primary breadwinner now, and he needs things out of a job like stability and insurance. He’s getting phone calls about contract opportunities, and although these could be very exciting, it may be too risky considering I’m not bringing in my full salary and insurance.
And then there’s the identity thing. Who am I? I've always defined myself with my career, with my accomplishments. Now, I’m stepping down at my company, giving up my management role, and becoming a contributor instead of a manager. Sure, I’m still contributing in a significant way, but my title will be the same as it was at my former company – five years ago. It won’t look good on my resume. I know I shouldn't care about that kind of thing, as I’m doing something really important – taking care of Alex – but it still feels weird. I’m not moving up, I’m moving down. And there’s no opportunity for promotion, or anything really. Just keep on contributing is the most I can hope for. The hubs seems to think this is a temporary thing, but I can’t imagine wanting to spend less time away from Alex. Even when she goes to school, I’ll want to be there every day when she gets home from school – I don’t want to send her to an after-school program, which would be necessary if I go back to work full-time. Is this really a permanent decision? The thought scares me.
The other thing is I’m nervous about is providing enriching activities for Alex, and a future baby if I’m so lucky. I’m an accountant, not a teacher. I don’t know much about early childhood education, and how to best stimulate them. Currently on the weekends, during Alex’s wake-time, we take walks and she swings in the playground or I take her to the grocery store or we hang out in my living room and play with her toys. We can’t keep doing just this – I’ll need to figure out some projects or something. I know she’s just 11 months right now, so there aren't a lot of “projects” that work for her right now, but the time is quickly approaching where we can do stuff, more than just playing on the floor with her toys. But what exactly???? Do any of you have websites or books or something that will help me with this? I found out the local library does toddler story time on a day that I’ll have off, so I’ll plan on doing that. What else? I really want to look at this like a new job, and do it well! I need to learn more about how children learn, and figure this stuff out… And preferably in ways that don’t cost much money (see earlier discussion on tightening the purse strings).
I know I need to chill out and just go with it. For the most part, I’m very excited about going part-time. It’s just that I never in a million years thought I would want to do this. I always could hear my mother in my head, telling me to not rely on a man, to have a career. Sure, I always wanted kids, but I always planned on working at the same time. But when it took so long to have Alex, and we struggled so much, and then when I had her and started spending time with her, and then I took her to daycare and cried, and every night I pick her up and she’s utterly exhausted, and then I spend one hour per night with her, I now want to spend more. One hour per night, and 20-30 minutes in the morning, is not enough time to spend with this child that I wanted so much. The other night she woke up at midnight for the first time in months, and she needed attention for about an hour. It was wonderful. If I’m desperately cherishing these cries and requests for cuddles in the middle of the night, we have a problem. But hopefully now I’m fixing it.