Friday, March 19, 2010

To work or not to work.



I have heard it all before. Can you have it all? The age old dilemma for women after having children is that internal debate to either stay at home or be out in the work force. Sometimes you don't have a choice. Sometimes you do. But either way, it's not easy.

For years infertility stole any impulse for my career. I would turn down jobs because of IVF. I would take a project but wished I didn't have to work and could just have a family. I put off taking a heavy stressful full-time job thinking I can't get maternity leave after just starting a new job. In the midst of all the shots, doctor appointments, and pregnancy losses, I lost sight of what my career was going to be. It wasn't my priority.

Now after 2 weeks of working on a freelance project, I am beginning to think about how I can balance motherhood and work. I keep hearing how there is this divide among mothers - those who work and those who do not. There are judgements and insecurities about both decisions. I hear complaints about women who can't imagine not staying at home and providing made-from-scratch everything for their child. Others take offense to working mothers who condescend to stay-at-home-moms.

I have decided to remain Switzerland on this subject. I have yet to enter into the larger mommy world because we are still staying at my parent's house and our baby is so young for it to be relevant. Isn't it just important to do what makes you happy? Maybe there is too much gray in that idea, which is ultimately why maybe women never quite feel satisfied with these options. It's not just about my happiness now, it's about my daughter and my husband too. Before it was expected that women stay at home. Then it was expected that you work too. Now it seems really up to you which way to go. The judgements and subtle jabs that women give each other only really come from a feeling of not being able to do it all. When you are at home all the time you might feel like your career is slipping away. When you are working you might feel you are missing precious moments with your baby. No win situation.

My plan is to find as many cool parents who are chilled out and open-minded. There are parents who judge or compete or preach or brag or compare children. These types of people just make you feel bad, so I plan to stay away from these parents as best I can. The last thing I want is to question myself, especially with all my infertility baggage. With so many levels of concerns about your baby - a) keeping them alive b) making sure they develop healthy and strong c) nurturing them for the person they will grow to become, you just have to do what feels right to you.

So my newest challenge is riding the roller coaster of making decisions about my career while trying to be the best mom I can. Again, better than the roller coaster ride of IVF. Luckily, part of what infertility has taught me is to tune out the noise. It has taught me well that the definition of motherhood is an infinite amount of things.

6 comments:

Sue said...

As long as you do whatever works best for you and your family, you can't go wrong.

kdactyl said...

I struggled with this too. I really really wanted to stay home full time with my son (before he was actually born)...I was lucky to have been with the same company for almost 10 years and so I had a lot of flexibility and a great boss. I was able to take the first 9 months off. During that time I came to the conclusion that I am not MEANT to be a stay at home mom even though I really, really wanted it and thought it would be so good for my son. So...I made a compromise...back to work but cut my time by 25%. Not everyone can do that...but it is so wonderful. I have the best of both worlds and can see it from both sides...stay at home or work. I get 3 1/2 days at work a week and 3 1/2 at home with my son and hubby. It is a balance that works for us (although with a slightly less beefy paycheck). If you can find the balance that suits you...that is all that matters. My son loves his daycare and learns so much there and we have connected with other parents who work full or part time and it is great! I hope you find what works for your family!

Me said...

"For years infertility stole any impulse for my career."

I've been living this for a while now. I'm very interested to see how actually having a child will impact those feelings.

毅力 said...
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C said...

Just found your blog. Will be starting IVF soon. Didn't think this would happen to me. I half-heartedly joke about my marriage--maybe we should have had analyses done first so I would have known what my options were 7 years ago. My issues are sufficiently challenging but adding his well, hence IVF. As far as work & family goes, I feel guilty for having procrastinated on family --thinking that we would have time for that later. Now it is later, but ...

Dawn said...

I've been at this motherhood and working dilemma for years and have juggled it many different ways. What's right for you and your daughter right now may change in a couple of years. Good luck figuring it all out. No decision is permanent so you don't have to worry about making too big of a mistake. Dawn Davenport

Host of the radio show Creating a Family-Talk about IF & adoption
www.CreatingaFamily.org