Choosing to work full time when you have kids is one of the most important decisions a mother can make. Note* I said mother, not father. That argument is for another day.
Disclaimer: this is not a stay-at-home mom vs working moms debate. It is the chronicle of my thought process when I decide to return to work full-time after having my baby (this, of course, excludes any unforeseen circumstances such as my health or the baby’s)
In actually, I wish I could have called it a “process”, it was more like a tennis match that went back and forth… and back and forth. The main issues I tackled with were the three F’s: finances, future goals, and (personal) fulfillment
I am one to worry about money all of the time. Mainly because we didn’t have a lot of it growing up. As a military spouse, I worry about it constantly. I’m so, so grateful for what my husband’s job has provided (steady income, health insurance, free or low-cost support services). But it’s finite. Once he retires, then what? There are no guarantees in life. I want to set-up my family to weather any situation that may come. Two incomes are better than one. The savings account is a little more padded. We may have the means to enjoy activities or trips that we might not have been able to afford on one income. Money doesn’t grow on trees here, people.
The way I see it, I’m working to improve the standard of living for my child’s future. We all want to be the parents who gave their kids what they never had. We happen to live in a very expensive zip code, mostly by the Navy’s choice, a little by ours. I want my family to live in a safe neighborhood (which usually means more expensive), to attend the best schools, (which usually means more expensive), and to be able to participate in activities like sports, clubs, lessons that will help them grow as well-rounded people (which for sure means more expensive). Do they need all of these things? no, of course not. But I only get one chance at this parenting gig, so I’m going to do the best I can in the best way that fits me and my husband’s lifestyle. Let’s enjoy as much as we can while we’re young to help set up for what we want in the future.
There’s a part of it that is about personal fulfillment but why shouldn’t there be? In my cake of happiness, the biggest slices are for my family, my friends, my health, why shouldn’t there be a sliver reserved for my career? As much as I’d like to dedicate every waking moment to my children, it’s not feasible. They do go to school, they do move out, they do become grownups. I will love and support them every step of the way. I will do so as I work to make me a better mommy. If I’m happy, they’re happy. My devotion remains to my family, but it’s ok for me to look in the mirror, and ask what have you done for you lately? I look at my husband’s brag wall of awards, commendations, coins. I want one too. I’d like to build a hard-work ethic that my kids can aspire as they’re growing up. I want to teach them that if they have a goal, then as Miss Britney states “ you gotta work, bitch”.
Who knows, my thoughts on my decision may change tomorrow, or in a year, or in a couple of years. It will always be fluid. If my destiny was already laid out for me, well… where’s the fun in that?
Did you guys have to go through a similar situation?