Maternity leave is over. The 12 weeks I could take have run out and now I am officially a stay at home mom. I am scared.
I love being with my children and I always imagined that I would stay home with them, but I also loved my job and I like the independence and security that earning money gives me. I like feeling professionally successful too.
While I am doing some work from home and I am trying to stay involved in the community, there is a part of me that is very worried about the future. What will happen to me when my kids are older and go to school all day? Will I be able to find a job I like? Will I have a boss who is 20 years younger than me? Will I be relevant?
Being able to stay home with my children by choice is an absolute luxury. I am very conscious of this. I have a choice, many women do not. This puts things in perspective but doesn’t make choosing easier.
I know many women who leave their kids at daycare or with a nanny and both, parents and children, are happy. I think these are great options, but something in me knows this would not be the right choice for me.
I want to do crafts with my kids, take them to music class and story time, bake cookies and read to them before their naps. I want to make and feed them their meals. I want to raise them on a daily basis.
When you work full-time, and I did until my son was 18 months old, it is hard to make time for all of these activities after work and on the weekends. I often felt like I was missing something. I wanted to be the one there for him all day, every day.
Several months ago, when I was pregnant with my second child, I read this story in The New York Times about women who left executive jobs a decade ago to raise families. Although none of them regretted having been home with their children, their level of satisfaction with their current lives varied.
When my children are grown- I will be 54 when my youngest is 20- I want to look back at my life and be proud of who I have raised them to be. I want to see that my being home had a positive impact in their lives. I also want to have a career.
In order to stay home and stay in touch with my professional life I have taken some steps that I think will keep me relevant in the workplace without spending time in an office. Some of these came to me after reading the article I linked to above, others from talking with successful women at different stages of their lives and some from my own intuition after reading books like Lean In and following The Shriver Report. I don’t know what the outcome will be, but for now, I am content.
1- Finish my master’s: I am well on my way to finish my thesis and with it my master’s. Because my graduation year will be December 2014, there won’t be a gap in my resume if I decide to go back to work after my baby’s 1st birthday. I will also have finally earned the degree I started six years ago. Yikes!
2- Volunteer my expertise: I have joined the Board of Trustees of my local library and I will be helping with a capital campaign as well as general marketing. There is a time committment in this position, but not like a job, and although it doesn’t pay, I will be growing my social and professional network, something important for my future job search.
3- Blog: As a communicator, writing is very important. This blog is not only a great creative outlet and a lot of fun for me to do, but it also keeps me writing on an almost daily basis. This won’t just improve my writing skills, but I will have tons of samples of my writing and committment for future employers to see.
4- Freelance: I am still getting the hang of parenting two kids while my husband works more than 60 hours a week, but I am already looking at publications to freelance for in the near future. I will start slow and work my way up as I find the time.
5- Learning: Once I finish my master’s I am planning on taking classes that I can use for my career. I chose journalism/communication as a career because I love it, so taking a class in photography, creative writing or social media marketing will be fun for me and great for my future. The first class I am taking is a food photography class in the fall, I cannot wait!
You may have to check back in a couple of years and see where I am at, I hope I can tell you that I am still happy with the decisions I am making today.
Have you had this struggle? How have you dealt with it?