Thursday, May 29, 2008

Stay-at-home parents

I am extremely jealous of stay-at-home parents. I probably alluded to this a bit when we went through the day care thing, but in the last day or so jealousy has had a few chances to rear its ugly head. At our last child birth class we got on a discussion of day care. I was generally jealous of pretty much everyone there, because most of them had this nice setup NOT involving a day care center. Some had parents, some had a highly recommended in-home day care, and one is staying home until at least December. Not only did most of them have piece of mind with whomever they chose, they were also paying a heck of a lot less than the places we looked at. I wish we had that luxury...any of those luxuries. Whether it's having someone we trust that much (due to recommendations or having them in the family for years), or paying less, or being able to stay home, even a day or two a week...any of it is eviable.

Then yesterday morning I read one of the blogs that inspired this one (read it here), and the writer is leaving her job to become a freelance writer. She's got plenty to write about, though I wouldn't trade places with her in million years since cancer is what has shaped her life and career, making this move possible. But I couldn't help but be a little jealous that she can afford to give up her steady salary (despite just having bought a house on Long Island) and that it has the added bonus of allowing her to spend time with her 9 month old son. Even the flexibility of freelancing would be nice...to be able to work around things reasonably well.

The tough thing for me is that I like my job...I really do. I enjoy what I do, I like who I work for, and I get paid respectably. While my job may not be impossible to do remotely, it's not ideal. I'm the only one that does much of what I do, and it's quite handy to have me in the office when my bosses need to talk through something or need something done NOW. I don't know if it would be physically possible to get in a full work week at home with a baby, nor would it probably be possible to have this job go part time...there's just too much to do. That's not to say there couldn't be some flexibility, but again, the convenience of me being here and available whenever something is needed is huge. There's good news and bad news to being needed, you know? (Call me crazy, but I'll most likely be taking a laptop home with me over maternity leave. I offered, but it's mostly because I'm afraid they won't be able to find something in my filing system and it will be easier for everyone if I can just log onto the server, look through my files, and tell them where it is. Doing it from memory would be impossible, I think. I'd rather be prepared and have that extra safety net than leave everyone hanging. Having the computer up-to-date will also be handy in case the baby's sick and I have to be home for a day here or there.)

Anyway, going part time isn't really even an option financially. I suppose it depends on how the pay cut would compare to day care's cost. Obviously the benefits to the baby are priceless...but if you can't pay your mortgage, that doesn't work either. Hopefully someday one of us will end up with a job that pays a ton and the other can afford to not work...or work less. Or add another kid or two into the mix and it's that much easier for a salary and day care to cancel each other out.

Not that I want to stay home full time, either. I take pride in my career as well, and I think adult interaction is a good thing. I'm not sure how I'd do home alone all day every day...I know it's hard work, and the mental toll is tough. You have to find ways to make it engaging for both of you, which can be a job all its own. Still, it's something I'd like to try someday (beyond the dizzying six weeks of my maternity leave). I know leaving my six-week old baby at day care is going to kill me, but I also hope it won't make me a heartless person if I also take some joy in getting back to work after all that time. Mommies need variety, too. Still, it'd be nice to have the option, you know?

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