That would be, “This Isn’t Fair, I Don’t Want To Choose.” (You are reading a Mommy Blog, my friend, so I am assuming you already know the acronyms for Stay At Home Mom and Working Mom. And if you didn’t before, well, now you do.)
First of all, let me say that I know I am fortunate to even be in a position where I am struggling with this issue. Lots of moms don’t have a choice but to work if they want their kids to have food, clothing and shelter. Technically, our family could survive (with all belts on that last, tightest hole, if you catch my drift) on my husband’s salary alone. However, it would be nice to have a little more income. PLUS, it really is hard as Hell to be home with the kids 24 hours a day. I’m not (necessarily) saying it is Hell…just that it is hard as Hell.
But honestly? Weighing the pros and cons of both sides is exhausting. Stressful. Emotional. Draining. Scary.
On the one hand, your kids are only little once and it is your only chance to watch them grow and to be the main influence on their character.
On the other hand, being around your kids all day every day is so exhausting that it can sometimes leave you acting like a grumpy old man instead of the nurturing voice of love and guidance you dreamed you would be as a mother.
The craziest part has been trying to make the decision based on financial components. Once you’ve subtracted your nanny or daycare’s pay from your salary, you are not left with much. Unless you are a CEO. Or treating your nanny as an indentured servant and not really ‘paying’ her per se. Which just really isn’t cool. So basically, if you are a normal person, with a normal salary and you are decent enough to pay your nanny well…you find yourself doing a different kind of math:
So I am going to spend X amount of hours away from my kids this year in order to bring home Y?
Well, let me tell you. That equation just never sits well in your heart.
Because the truth is, no matter what you make, if you compare it to whether it is worth not being around your children I can’t imagine a sum that makes it feel okay. Let alone good.
Plus, let me just add that it finally dawned on me that it is totally wrong and bizarre that we always seem to subtract the childcare expenses from my salary. Am I the only mom who finds herself doing the math that way? The truth is, if we want to do the math of having a two-salary household with childcare, we should subtract the childcare from both salaries to be fair, right? Half from each. My salary looks much more appealing with half of the childcare expenses subtracted from it. (And even better if I conveniently forget all of those lovely taxes that will be taken out….. Note to self: Get into that top, top bracket where I have a gazillion dollars and get taxed next to nothing before government comes to their senses and fixes that ridiculousness.)
The other part of the whole equation is, well…me. Little ol’ me.
I went to college. I went to grad school. I got accepted into impressive programs. I worked my little tail off. (It was still relatively little back then.)
I enjoy working.
I am not sure I want to completely give that up for another 5 years or so. Certainly not for another 18.
Being a mom is my most important role. It is the one that is most vital I don’t screw up. It is the one I enjoy the most.
But I totally get it when women talk about needing to also be productive in other ways in order to retain their sense of self. And I am starting to realize that perhaps I fall into that category.
I think my greatest strengths are as a mom. But maybe I need to be fulfilling other professional needs as well in order to really be the happiest and most patient mom I can be.
That, and I really need to start making time to do things like get a hair cut, go on a date with my husband, get my nails done, shower daily.
I mean, I deserve to feel human, too, right?
I am pretty sure that when my mom was away from me in order to work for whatever her personal reasons were, she was hoping it would benefit me as a person. I need to honor that and make sure that I am not only a good mom and wife, but also a happy and productive person. Individual.
I need to make sure that her choices and challenges weren’t wasted on raising a daughter who then never figured out how to not only be what her family needs her to be, but also be who she is supposed to be.
My kids deserve it.
I deserve it.