Monday, March 24, 2008

Torn

I just ordered official transcripts from the university just in case I decide to apply for a job I found near here. The job is pretty great and just a couple of exits away from our new house. After six months I would qualify for flex time, meaning Ryan could drop Charlie and Bravo off and I could pick them up around four o'clock and then spend the afternoon with them. I am qualified for the job, and better yet, IT PAYS. Like, MONEY. Money that can be used for, I don't know TWO COLLEGE EDUCATIONS in the future. Or that bitchin' minivan I've been eyeing on Craigslist.

I found the job this morning during a dark moment of dissertation despair when I was just taking a peek to see if there were any jobs out there that don't require constant self-flagellation (hee hee) and substance abuse (caffeine! Although I am sure speed or ritalin or maybe mushrooms would provide a better result). And up pops this great job. Nervous and excited, I sent Ryan the link and said I was thinking about applying for it. He replied in usual awesome husband fashion "You can do whatever you would like. I'll support whatever decision you make." All day I thought about the possibilities and mulled the pros and cons in my head.

A career! Professional validation!!

No more Baby Storytime or leisurely afternoons on the playground with our other toddler friends.

Fully funded retirement and college savings in record time (my whole salary would be dedicated to daycare and savings)!

Who would take care of Charlie when he is sick?

Work clothes! Adult conversation!

MAH PRESHUS WITTLE BAY-BEES! WAAAAAAA!

Still, I rationalized that Charlie went to daycare until 2:30 every day from age 8 weeks to 10 months and he was just fine (my poor, overpumped nippies, on the other hand, were not). I thought about my working-mom friends who seem very happy with their lives. I thought about the well-dressed women with Blackberries that I see at drop off (who, I am sure, think I am in high school from the way I dress on work days). I thought about the time I nearly died from jealousy as I sat behind a woman in a gorgeous suit who had her portfolio open on her lap to reveal her business card advertising her position as a writer at a national publication. She made phone calls and took notes as we sat in tiny chairs awaiting Charlie's daycare's "Pajama Parade". I sat there in my tshirt (Hurricane Field Project, 03!), faded jeans, sneakers, and ponytail wishing I could hide in the play fort. I thought about a professor I met once at a family get-together who found a charter school near the university so she could participate in school activities with her daughter.

Then I thought about my own happy childhood--swimming lessons, trips to the library, building villages out of popsicle sticks, movies and popcorn on rainy days, baking cookies, long summer mornings at the pool with my sister, unscheduled outside playtime, family vacations--and thought about how many of those things would not be possible if I worked full-time. Daycare has provided Charlie with many wonderful experiences that he would not have had otherwise--horseback riding, a petting zoo, music class, daily arts and crafts projects, the doting care of two adults whose only job is to make sure everyone has a good time. But, Tuesday and Thursday, we have FUN. We go to Little Gym, we play with friends, we go out for lunch together, we go to Baby Storytime and to the playground. I took him swimming in a spring the other day! Our little playgroup has plans for a train ride, the Children's Museum, and trips to the pool. And if he feels bad and needs me to hold him while he sleeps I can do that too.

Charlie is really fun to hang out with right now. He loves to try new things, he's sweet and affectionate, he's playful, independent, and curious about new things. And his nap schedule make our days together really easy and laid back.

I think I am in a really good situation right now... surely I couldn't keep up the Mom Camp routine if I had Charlie home every day. And I don't think I'd be as content as I am if not for my part time work (even if it is The Dissertation That Will Never End). But what is there for me after I finish my dissertation? Do I have to wait six and a half years until everyone is in public school before I can pursue a career? Do I have to miss out on Charlie's and Bravo's baby/toddlerhood just to ensure that I will be able to find a good job when they do go to public school? Do I have to decide to opt out altogether in the name of family sanity, despite all the work I have put into my education?

I know Charlie and Bravo will thrive whether they are in daycare or home with me--we've done both. And I know we would have a great time together as a family on weekends and holidays. And it's not that I'm worried I won't be part of his life if he went to daycare full time; it would be no different if he was in elementary school. But I genuinely like being with Charlie and would hate to have missed out on this part of his life.

I know most of the usual commenters have a variety of professional/family arrangements, so I'd love to hear your thoughts on this subject if you would like to share.

7 comments:

Sarah said...

Oh my god, I know. It was always easier for me to think I'd work full time BEFORE I had Harry. Even though I was studying mothering ideology, I never thought about how much I'd WANT to stay home, too. Talk about ivory tower, right?

Art Nerd said...

Have you thought about adjunct instructing? It's glamorous (ha!), pays well (ha ha!) and it's what helps me to keep my sanity.

My sister works full time, and while I guess I technically do and will when the little bugger comes home, I won't be out of the house 40+ hours a week. That's what I like about my job, and it's why I decided to pursue the glittering life of an academic. I like that I don't have tenure, which will require more committee/administration time than I'm willing to give right now.

I say all this, of course, only being pregnant and not actually having the kiddo yet. But I'm hoping it works out well- talk to me in September :)

Kyla said...

It IS hard, isn't it? I'm going a semester at a time. LOL. Right now, I stay home with the kids during the day and go to school at night. I'm looking for a job (stupid insurance!) but it will have to be at night. Next semester, KayTar will be in school 1/2 day and BubTar will be in full day...that will give me a bit more flex time for school or work, but it will be two years before KayTar is in a full day program. So, what I'm saying is...I don't know! LOL. There isn't a right answer here...just a right answer for YOU. Whatever you decide, it will be great.

Someone Being Me said...

There are pros and cons to both. It depends on what kind of person you are. My heart isn't in my job and hasn't been since I had Bear. I have my days where I enjoy putting on my work clothes and going to the office but most days I would prefer to be home playing with Bear. I am leaving my job in April to be a full time Mom. It just hasn't worked for us but we are glad we tried. Now I won't have the grass is greener syndrome or at least not as bad as I would have if I hadn't tried the working Mom thing.

jenn_ky said...

I am currently a full-time working mom and I love it. My job is flexible with hours and working from home, which I think is key - it would be horrible if I HAD to be there from 8 to 5 every day. As it is, if my 5-month-old is ready for her morning nap before I'm ready to leave for the office, I can let her nap at home while I check e-mails and then head on in after she wakes up. I know different thing work for different people, but our set-up is working really well for us right now.

My Buddy Mimi said...

I like my current job, and there are definitely days that it is the easiest thing I do. I have been in work situations that were really inflexible and where I could not take time off when Mimi was sick, etc. All it did was make me hate being at work.

I guess what I am saying is that with the right situation it can be a really good thing. So definitely apply for jobs, and if it is the right one, take it. The worst is HAVING to work and hating it and not having a choice in the matter.

Liz said...

I know that professional envy. I miss going to work, I miss being at work, I miss professional validation.
I think no matter what side of the fence you're on, the grass is always greener.
If I weren't about to squeeze out another baybee, I think I'd be starting to look for work again.
At the very least: unsupervised bathroom breaks! lunch breaks! coffee runs!
Good luck with whatever decision you make...it's a tough one, for sure.