One of the questions I was asked recently had to do with whether I intended to go back to work, what kind of work I might do, and when I thought that might happen.
My views on this have changed drastically since I've had children. I used to think I would always be a stay at home mom. I'm not necessarily proud of this, but I used to believe that any family could have one parent stay at home, if they were willing to make sacrifices to make it happen. I used to think that the best thing for any family was to have one stay at home parent. This is one of many things I've changed my mind about since actually having my own kids. I think that different things work for different families, that stay at home parenting is not the right thing for every mother (or father), and that the cost of living these days makes it pretty darn difficult for every family to have a stay at home parent, no matter how badly they might want to.
For now it makes sense for us to have me stay at home. I know how fortunate we are to be able to swing it on Matt's salary alone. At the same time, it doesn't feel like we'll be able to manage this way forever. Like many families I wouldn't say we are struggling to put food on the table, we have plenty of things we could live without (although where do you draw the line - I can't imagine downgrading or eliminating our internet service, though it certainly isn't required for us to survive), but my returning to work would afford us some breathing room in the future.
When I started working on my master's degree, back in the summer of 2006, it was with the intent that I would return to work someday. During the summer of 2007 I even interviewed for a teaching position. I fully intend to return to work, and it will likely be before both children are in school all day.
In a perfect world I might start working part-time as early as next school year. I would LOVE for my children to attend the private school I taught at before becoming a stay at home mom, but the tuition is s-t-e-e-p and they will only be able to attend if I return to work at that school. To me it would be worth the changes we'd have to make in our family life for me to return to work and the children to attend school in that environment. If that scenario doesn't play out (and it's likely not to, because we all know life doesn't always go the way you wish) it may be a little longer before I return to work. We don't know yet whether Michael will have the food allergy issues Harper has - that really complicates any childcare/school situation for her.
Also in a perfect world, when I go back to work, I will work in a school library - which is what I got my master's degree for. But I am not entirely ruling out a return to classroom teaching, especially in the right environment.
Some things which will completely upend these plans:
1) We win the lottery and neither of us needs to work.
2) Matt gets a job in another city - we would only move away if Matt's new job would mean that I truly didn't have to go back to work for our financial stability, for a long time - we could not both work without the family support we have here.
3) The unknown - if some circumstance dictated that one of us HAD to be home full time, we would find a way to make it work as long as we needed to.
So I suppose that sort of answers the question about my return to work - though there is much, much more which could be said on the subject. Including asking the question, "What do I want to be when I grow up?" Which I think we'll save for another time.