Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Can a Mom (or Dad) have it all?

How can you leave this face at home and go to work without feeling a pang of guilt? It's damn near impossible, but it a decision moms have to make as their maternity leave comes to a close. To work or not to work, that is the question.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I thought going back to work would be a no brainer. I went to a lot of school to just have a baby and call it a day, professionally speaking, didn't seem like an option. But, as January 14th neared, the degrees, the certificates, the credentials seemed to lose their value and bottles, breast pumps, diapers, and onsies started to look more and more appealing.

At the end of the day I chose to go back to work for several reasons. The first was my new position was very "new mom" friendly. With the ability to work from home two days a week, I am with my son more than I am away at work. This hybrid life style also makes me a better mom, I think, since I am more tolerant of tears, break downs, explosive poop, and spit up. It also allows me to interact with adults, put those diplomas to work, and prevent a glaring gap on my professional resume, The second reason I decided to return to work was based on our quality of life. Although DJ is the "bread winner", per se, I am not significantly far behind. The purchase of our house, the vacations we take, the dinners we eat - are all based on two salaries. This said, I never want to say "No Austin, we can't go to Disney" for money purposes. As an only child, and the wife of an only child, I recognize how spoiled I actually was (and still am). I certainly don't want Austin to be a spoiled brat, but should he want to dabble in soccer, football, and dance - I want to give him that opportunity. I want him to experience camp, travel, and annual vacations. He deserves that.

The third reason was my support system. Because my parents live twenty minutes away and my husband works remotely, we were fortunate enough to have childcare in place. Free childcare. This was HUGE. I recently spoke to a mother and she was paying $1500.00 a month for childcare. Although her monthly salary was more, she would still have to take off in the event of a sick child, to be a field trip volunteer, or a school closing. At the end of the day, she chose to be a stay-at-home mom because it was more cost effective. DJ and I have a very good system - although not perfect - Austin spends three days a week with my parents and then two days a week at home with us. Even though we are both working the days I am home, we do a pretty good job of tagging each other in and out of parent duty. Our system allows me to go to work with piece of mind, knowing my child is in good hands, getting undivided attention, and is in a safe environment.

Recently Sheryl Sandburg's book "Lean In" took the women's workforce by storm as she wishes to encourage women to "pursue their ambitions" and change the conversation from what we can't do to what we can do. I think the premise is excellent; however critiques think she may be out of touch with the needs, demands, and stresses of the everyday working woman. I'm not sure what a day in the life of Ms. Sandburg is, but I can guess she doesn't take the 8:11 train into Penn Station every morning, but she probably has a million other stresses that I can't even begin to fathom. I followed the website, Leanin.org as well as joined the LinkedIn group in hopes of connecting with women who share my concerns as well as ambitions. Hopefully I will one day be the CEO of something other than 16 Beechwood Avenue.