Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Becoming a stay at home mom

When you announce your pregnancy, one of the first questions everyone asks is "Are you going back to work?" My staff actually started taking wagers about whether I would come back after I had Grace from the moment I announced that I was expecting (or when they figured it out, which was way before I announced it. It's hard trying to hide morning sickness around a bunch of moms!) The choice to work or to stay home is probably one of the hardest decisions to make during pregnancy and I think I must have seen it talked about nearly a million times on pregnancy message boards. I wanted to describe the path to our decision!

When I was growing up, I always knew that I wanted to be a stay at home mom. I thought it was an easy choice. Who wouldn't want to play with their kids all day, right?

My mom stayed at home with my brother and I growing up, so this was what I was used to. However, Mike's mother worked. He wasn't used to the idea, but being the amazing man he is, he supported my decision one hundred percent. When we were in our mandatory pre-marital counseling, Mike said one of the sweetest things I've ever heard him say when asked about his goals: "I know Stephanie really wants to stay home with our kids and I want to make sure that I earn enough so that she can do that."

So, we planned our budget from the time we were married to accommodate me staying home. We bought our house with one income in mind. The bank would have approved us for a much higher mortgage, but we wanted to plan ahead.  Everything was set for me to be a stay at home mom....and up until May 7th, 2010 I would have told you that I would definitely be staying home when we eventually had kids.

And then on that amazing day, I saw two lines on the pregnancy test. And the reality of that choice quickly began to sink in.

Let me give you some background....

I was in honors programs from the time I was in middle school. I graduated with an International Baccalaureate diploma in high school and participated in a prestigious honors program in college that allowed me to study at Oxford University during my junior year. I was tutored by some of the most distinguished tutors in Britain. I then went on to earn my Master's degree in Library Science. This is coming off as braggy, but school was very important to me and I was good at it!

After completing my degrees, I was promoted to an assistant branch manager job in my library system. I was on several committees and was hoping to be promoted to a branch manager within the next year or so. I was good at my job and my manager and I worked extremely well together. Most importantly, I really liked my job!

To put it plainly, I am an over achiever. I love challenges and thrive on accomplishment.

And realistically, library work is not something you can do at home. It is generally an all or nothing kind of job. The norm in library world is to go back to work. In fact, I didn't know of anyone in my library system who had quit to stay at home.

I had a career. I had great friends at work. I was moving up in the library system. People in library world thought I was crazy for even thinking about leaving. Why would I waste all of that time and money that I put into my education?

And I will admit that all of those thoughts crossed my mind. Was I crazy? Would I ever be able to get another job if I left? Would I get bored being at home?

So I went on my FMLA leave without giving my boss any sort of decision (which was horrible of me, but luckily he was great about it!)  I really didn't know what I wanted at that point. And it made it harder because Mike decided to change jobs during my leave. His old company was having trouble and the new one provided not only more money, but better health insurance (very important with a new baby around!) I didn't want to quit my job and then have Mike's new company give him the boot (this can happen when you're the new guy!)

But after having Grace, all of my doubts disappeared.

Seriously, I get to spend all day with this face : )

There is nothing better then being able to spend every second with her and I couldn't even imagine going back to work and leaving her at daycare. It doesn't matter how much education I have...the most important thing I can ever do is spend time with my daughter. I quit my job after we were assured that Mike was going to be able to stay with his new company and I haven't looked back!

I do not ever judge working moms. I respect how much they are able to get accomplished! I know everyone has a different situation, but I wanted to share my experiences. It is not an easy decision!!

1 comment:

  1. Since I work as a CNA, I make very little money and am seriously underappreciated. Full-time daycare would take more than half of my monthly income. Fortunately, my husband recently received a raise and a promotion, which is making it possible for me to stay at home once our baby is born.

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