The Perils of Being a Grownup
As an adult you have to worry about being able to support yourself, and once you have kids, you have to worry about how to support them, too. In addition to the emotional and physical heavy lifting we do for ourselves and our kids, our families require financial investment to live and thrive.
We’re a two-income family trying to support ourselves, put a little bit into savings and away for retirement, working on paying off our mortgage and soon we’ll face the dual pressure of post-secondary education and child care at the same time. The cost of food, and goods and services keep on increasing faster than our salaries, and this means that being a one-income family is not part of our future plans if we want to remain solvent.
This week Baby A will turn 8 months old which leaves only 1/3 of my year-long maternity remaining. This means that I need to think about my dreaded return to work. It’s not that work outside of the home in and of itself makes me shudder, and it’s not leaving my baby with a caregiver as I don’t think I’d be a good long-term stay-at-home-mom, it’s that I still really don’t know what I want to do with my career. I’ve been thinking and reflecting during my time away from the office, and I’m not really any closer to achieving clarity on this matter.
I kinda sorta have a full-time job to return to (this is a long story that involves me being laid-off and re-hired in the final months of my pregnancy, followed by my boss getting terminated and the organization moving to an entirely different city 5 hours away from here leaving me the last standing staff member who was given a work at home proxy upon my return from mat leave). I’ll take it if it’s all I have, but I think it’s time for me to move on.
In the quest to figure out what I want, I’ve been looking at job boards, and even applied for a job that interested me. I have an interview for that job on Friday.
I’m not looking for just any job. I’m looking for the perfect job. I’m looking for a job that’s perfect and I haven’t even yet defined what would make a job perfect. What the heck was I thinking applying for this job?
Aside from all of the career-related things I need to think through, I only really started thinking about what my return to work would look like for the entire family. Given the short turnaround on the application and interview time frame, it looks as if the ideal candidate should be starting sooner rather than later.
We have child care for Baby A lined up. We somehow managed to score a spot in a licensed child care centre. Only she doesn’t start there until mid-March. I could see if we could get her in earlier, however, they don’t take infants until 10 months of age. Baby A won’t be that old until mid-January.
And then what about her eating? We’re weaning her, but she’s exclusively breast-fed in the milk department. Does this mean I’m going to need to incorporate pumping into my daily routine? I know thousands of moms do it. I just think that could be an added complication that may cause her to wean before she and I are ready and I’ve so very much come to love our breastfeeding relationship.
I’m also unsure how I feel about giving up a portion of my invaluable maternity leave. If I go back to work at some yet-to-be-defined dream job as early as February, I’d be losing 1.5-2 months of the incredibly special time I have with Baby A. She’s likely our last child, and the only baby I’ll ever have, and I’m completely torn about giving up those final precious days with her.
Then there’s the logistical aspect of working that we’ll have to grapple with. I left my job as a mother of two teens and will return as a mother of two teens and an infant. Wifey and I are doing such a good job balancing all the competing needs and time requirements our family demands. The success of which, in part, comes from the hours a day I have right now that are free from an office. I get totally overwhelmed when I think of how I will possibly be able to do all that I do right now in a day and add 8 hours of work into that same period of time.
I’m good. But am I that good? The answer is clearly “no” and something will have to give. But what?
I recognize that this is a conundrum faced by working mothers everywhere. My fears and concerns are not new. Mostly it’s stuff we’ll have to work through or figure out. I know that our family can do it.
Documenting my apprehensions make them seem so much smaller than the burden they place on my shoulders. When did you go back to work? Why? Was it the right decision? How do you make it work?