Tuesday, July 07, 2009

To Work or Not to Work?

Add ImageSometime last winter Matt and I started talking about whether we might be ready for me to return to work (for the purposes of this post, let's all assume I mean outside the home when I use the word "work"). Without diving headlong into an ugly debate, let's just say that my views on whether two parents should work have changed significantly since I became a mother - this is one of many, many issues I have had shift since I faced the reality of raising children rather than just the idea of raising children.

Before having children I liked my job, but wasn't necessarily ambitious career-wise. Then Harper was born, at the beginning of a long Midwestern winter, and the isolation of the stay-at-home life hit me like a Mack truck. I am a social being, I discovered, and even though play groups and blogging (Oh how the blogging saved me, no joke!) eased that, eventually to a great degree, I have never felt totally at ease in the stay-at-home mom gig. Don't get me wrong, of course I love my kids, and I wouldn't trade them for another kind of life, and while the "mommy" role suits me better now that it ever did that first year, I find myself feeling like I might be a better mother if I also had chunks of time devoted to an endeavor beyond the walls of our home.

At first I thought I would be a stay-at-home mom forever, now I don't think so anymore. No one is more surprised about this than me.

When I returned to school to get my master's degree it was a crazy time, it was difficult and I was usually exhausted, but I loved it. I loved being challenged in that way and having conversations with adults about education and technology and literature on a regular basis. I loved the adult companionship. I loved having something that was mine.

The agreement, when I went back to school, was that I did intend to put that degree to use, sooner or later. As a result of a multitude of factors, this winter it started to feel like it might be the right time to look for a job and I started to research child care options. One thing that made it easier to decide that I could go back to work was the place we plan on sending the children if I get a job. It is a gorgeous center, a place where both children can receive both preschool and child care, and it is peanut-free to boot. I liked it so much when I visited that it made me want to go back to work, just so the children could be there.

Even though it was scary I started to wrap my mind around the idea that I might really want to go back to work, then I had that long-term subbing job. Despite being only half-days, it actually made me feel like going back to work was do-able.

Here are some things (purposefully vague) that have happened, job-potential wise, in the last few months:
  • Get a call from a family friend indicating there might be a half-time library position at a nearby elementary school - perfect! We start discussing a return to work in earnest and look into childcare options.
  • Visit, talk with, several child care providers, find one we love, put down deposits to save spaces for the children for the fall.
  • Get letter from principal of previously mentioned elementary school, they don't end up with any openings for the coming school year, find myself surprised at the crushing disappointment I feel.
  • Accept and enjoy long-term sub job.
  • Find out two local high schools (one actually a middle and high school) are hiring media specialists for fall. Debate whether I want to work in a high school (initial thought: no).
  • Apply for high school positions, deciding, if nothing else, that interview experience would be good for me.
  • Do not get interview EITHER place - too late applying for one, apparently not among most qualified applicants for other.
  • Again with the disappointment.
  • Seeing no other positions available, I begin to shift my mindset and think of all the great things about being a stay-at-home parent for another year. (I won't have to stop watching bad television, I don't need to "dress up" except for church on Sunday, etc.)
  • Get phone call this morning from another high school where a library position suddenly opened up which needs to be filled quickly.
  • Arrange interview for Thursday morning.
  • Try to push mindset back to "I'm ready to go to work" mode.
  • Repeatedly remind myself that an interview and a job offer are two very distinct things.
  • Realize I won't sleep much for the next two nights.
And there we are.


Emily said...

OMG Kels! Good luck! I really hope that whatever happens, you are able to find an arrangement that you will be happy with for this year. Keep us posted, please!!

BTW, did you get my email about next week? Will you be around at all?

bluedaisy said...

Oh, this is such a personal decision, isn't it? I wish you luck on this next interview & hope that you get a definitive "gut feeling" in your decision making process. It's exciting when opportunities present themselves! My ideal situation would involve part-time work--like you, I need the social/adult time but working full time has been a struggle for me. I say this not to suggest what your ideal situation should be, just sharing my 2 cents.

MamaK said...

Good luck with the interview Kelsey! Hmm- I'm full time (30 hrs) and Mom watches Kaden. There are many days it's hard to balance. But there are many days I am so grateful to have a place to go and challenge myself. Knowing he's in good care is a big part of it. I always thought I'd be a SAHM, but it's not working out like that right now. So I'm right there with ya on the self-surprise... the ideas and reality of kids changing thoughts... adn the adult conversation/own achievement. so... whatever it is, you can do it! ps- good luck sleeping too ;)

Jill said...

Good luck on that interview Kelsey! Hope it turns out exactly the way you want!!

Giselle said...

Oh! Good luck! I'm sorry about the rollercoaster you have been on...

CARRIE said...

The ups and downs are the worst. I guess I will wish for you that whatever is in your (and your kids) best interest will work out.

I try to remind myself that, at least for me, life always seems to work out in a way that is best for me, even if at the time, that way seems stupid, sucky and just plain wrong.

Good luck!

jill said...

good luck. I can't imagine the heartache. Some people can make a snap decision and others can't. i'm more on the can't side. I hope it all the sudden becomes clear to you.

Shari Kendig-Combs said...

Good Luck with your interview. Just remember your kids are only little once and they grow up soooo fast. Don't let anyone tell you what to do you make the best decision for you and your family . Some people weren't meant to be stay at home moms some are either one you choose you have to make sure it's right. Our situation I am fortunate enough to stay home and am so blessed. I want to raise my child and love spending time with her me personally I would regret getting a job I just know she'll be gone soon all grown and it's time I will never get back. I am not saying this is the right decision for you in anyway I am just telling you how I feel about my decision. Good Luck ,again You will be fine at your decision and it will be right for you.

tracy of 101 said...

Oh Kelsey! WOW. I hope the interview goes well on Thursday.

Changing your mind about something can be hard and scary. I commend you for being true to yourself. And I know that whatever decision you make, it will be the right decision for you and your family at this time.

We'll say some prayers for you Thursday morning!

jill said...

I was offered a position for part time work, through my husband. Where he goes to the chiro is looking for someone to do some work on event planning. been there done that for the most part wouldnt be a big deal, but i have an idea it would mean missing putting baby to bed some nights. she doesnt do well when daddy does it. any thoughts on that? I dont even know hours or anything yet, just a VERY general description which was not helpful at all. I want details, sigh. but I know it would probably be in the evenings. Which of course is my only time to relax as it is...but it would be some cash and probably would not be every day or even every other day. hmm....biggest deal I guess is with nursing, now that we are going full tilt and will be starting the weaning process in october, do I REALLY want her to have a bottle every now and then when she doesnt currently use one? or do I drag my husband out of the house for 15 minutes so she can nurse and go home again? hmm..

Astarte said...

OMG, the rollercoaster!!!!

I'm going through the same thing. I never thought I would want to have kids, never mind want to stay at home with them, but then I loved it that thought *that* was what I would do. You're right, it's scary thinking about going back. I just finished my sub paperwork, and will have an interview in late summer. I'm thrilled, and scared, and a little weirded out.

I hope you get the librarian job!

Pam said...

Good luck in whatever path you choose!

Swistle said...

Oh, this is SO EXCITING!

samantha said...

I'm so excited for you! I mean, you haven't been offered the job but dude, you've got an interview which is hard to come by these days!

Once you get started everything will fall into place.

I'm like you: thought I'd want to be a SAHM and now I like being out and away for a bit. I'm working Ft even though PT would be ideal but yeah, I don't think the 24-7 gig is for me. And that's okay.

Kristin said...

How exciting to have the opportunity. I think it is a very hard decision to make...is this new position full time or part time?

I know what you mean about changing your mind. I had no idea how much I would dread going back to work after the birth of my son. I loved my job and was surprised at how strongly I felt about staying at home. I was very fortunate to have a boss who listened to me and let me work part time (30 hours a week; 3 days in the office and some time at home). This is the best situation our family could have. We need my income, and I love having the adult interaction and satisfaction I get from my job. But I also get to be home two days a week with my child, and the benefits of that are incalculable.

You'll have to figure out what works best for your family. If you can find out some sort of part time work I recommend it!