Today’s Inspiration: Work or Stay Home?

After my oldest daughter was born, I struggled with a big decision…should I work or stay at home?

I already had made rather large decision before getting pregnant with her. I decided to leave my big corporate job in marketing to pursue my dream of becoming a librarian. I was good at marketing, was making great money, I had my MBA, and I was moving up the ladder quickly, but I wasn’t happy. I worked hard, stayed late to accomplish more than my job description, and I was a perfectionist about materials I created; but I didn’t get super-excited to go to work every day. However, when I walked into a book store or library…THAT felt like home. It sounds geeky, but I couldn’t wait for free evenings or weekends to arrive so I could head to the library. I loved finding information and researching materials. Before I met Eric, I considered going to law school and had been accepted—but I put that on the back burner to continue my relationship with him. I figured I could combine my interest in both and work as a law or legal librarian. That was exciting and interesting to me. So I quit my Big Job, and I was hired for a part-time position at the local library. I was excited to gain experience while applying to schools to work towards my Master of Library and Information Science.

Then, I found out I was pregnant. Months earlier, I had miscarried our first pregnancy early on, so while Eric and I were excited we were aware that things could go wrong again. I continued to work and apply to schools while this small little being began growing in my belly.

As I got closer to my third trimester, I knew I wanted to keep working after the birth, but I decided that I would wait and apply to graduate programs the following year. That would give me a year to get more library work experience under my belt and some time to adjust as a new parent. I would work part-time and my baby would go to day care while I worked. I was convinced I was the working type, and that I could never “just stay home”.

I remember working up until the day my daughter was born, still planning to return to the library two months after the baby arrived. Then I became a mom. I heard my daughter’s little cry, I watched her sleep and fed her, and I wondered how in the world would I be able to leave her at a day care while I headed to work for a few hours each day? Eric told me he would support whatever I thought was best for me. Luckily, Eric had a great job so there was no pressure for me to have to work. I just needed to decide what I thought was best for me and for our baby.

Would I be a better mother if I worked? Or would I resent my decision?

The same questions went through my head when I thought about staying home.

Would I be a better mother if I stayed home? Or would I resent my decision?

Two weeks before having to return to work, I took a deep breath and called my supervisor. I told her that as much as I wanted to work, I wanted most to be with my baby. I felt it was best for me if I stayed home to care for her. The job and school would wait.

I remember hanging up and crying about my decision. Had I made the right one? Would I regret staying home? I was good at work—what if I wasn’t good at this stay-at-home mom job?

It’s been eleven years of staying home and two additional kids later. I don’t regret being home because it’s what I chose. I love my time with my girls, I enjoy volunteering in their classroom and I enjoyed spending my days caring for them when they weren’t in school.  I work part-time at a preschool now (nothing I saw myself doing way back when!), and it’s been a great job that allows me to get home from work before the kids get off the bus. I do struggle with my identity though. I know I’m a mom, but what have I accomplished that is all mine? Could I have been, should I have been some career title? Some nights, I get on the computer and I look at Library and Information Science programs and check out law schools and wonder if I’m too old to go back. On the flip side, if I went back, would I really want to work full-time again and deal with work deadlines and stress while dealing with three girls and all of their needs? My husband works crazy-long hours and travels often. I see how pressed he is to meet deadlines and complete work projects, and I wonder what it would be like if both of us were in that boat, feeling the same way. How much crazier would our routine at home be? Who would go to the kids’ events at school? Who would watch them when they are sick and need to stay home? Who would pick them up from after-school activities? I’m grateful that I am able to fairly easily, but I always wonder what my life would’ve been like as a career mom.

How does that saying go? The grass is always greener on the other side? I guess I’ll always wonder if the grass would’ve been greener.