Posted by Fitz

Since The Bean was born, I’ve had it easy.  I stayed home with her five days a week, and worked from home the other two.  Tuesday mornings, without fail, my mom would drive up in her little convertible carrying treats for The Bean and an even bigger gift for me – 48 hours with hardly anything to worry about except for the work waiting for me on my laptop.

This economy has robbed people of much more than what it has taken from me, but my nice little part-time gig has gone the way of real estate bidding wars and cheap gas.  The consulting business is notoriously fickle – especially during the summer – and organizational cutbacks have made it impossible for my company to continue to give me the hours that I so enjoyed.  This isn’t necessarily a permanent situation, but it has gone on for long enough that I truly need to consider what my next steps are…and I’m between a rock and a workplace.

There is a big part of me that has really enjoyed being a stay at home mom.  I love being the enforcer of The Bean’s routine, scheduling playdates at will, and seeing her sleepy-eyed smile every time I go in to get her from a nap.  I’m not sure, though, if I can be a stay at home mom indefinitely.  I worry that I’m not cut out for it, that I can’t stimulate her enough, that she’s not seeing other kids enough, and that I might lose my mind.  I have the ultimate respect for the moms who stay home, planning craft projects and singing home-written songs to their kids before feeding them freshly pureed mangoes.  Or just staying home to make Kraft mac and cheese, for that matter – the constant day-to-day is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. 

It almost seems easy to say that I should just go back to work, doesn’t it?  Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.  Work-outside-the-home moms seem like superwomen to me, and I’m not sure if I’m deserving of that title.  My career doesn’t lend itself to regular hours, manageable stress levels, or minimal travel, so I’d really need to switch things up if I wanted to work full time.  I have some ideas about what I’d like to do, but I’m not sure how to sell myself in a new way.  Then, how would I make the whole daycare thing work?  Would I really be able to get The Bean and I dressed and organized to be out the door at the same time every day?  Would I be able to drop her off and leave her somewhere?  Would I get enough time with her at home?  Could I follow the suggestions on Duff’s list, or would I just let chaos happen all around me from the sheer overwhelming nature of it all?   I just don’t know. 

Now, I know that an incredible number of women don’t have the luxury of being able to make this decision.  Sometimes, though, I wish it wasn’t a choice for me – it would take me out of the equation and just force me to make it all work.  It is a choice for me, though, and it is one that is far from being resolved.  Whatever decision I make – to stay home full time or to go back to work, even to my old job – is going to require a leap of faith.  No one ever told me that there wouldn’t necessarily be a solution that’s perfect for our family, and I’ve been searching for it high and low like a puppy chasing its tail.  Now that I’ve realized this, it seems like I was a fool for not getting it from the beginning – but even if someone had told me, I never would have realized how complicated and difficult this decision would be. 

There are always going to be tradeoffs, there are always going to be compromises, and I’m learning that the peace of mind I’m searching for will only be found in some sort of balance.  Like fingerprints, I’m guessing that all of us have a delicate – sometimes precarious – balance that is unique to our families’ needs and dreams for the future. I hope we find ours soon, and I imagine it will take several stops and starts before we get it right.