Today was my last day as an employed mom and I’m feeling simultaneously thrilled and dreadfully sad. This day was planned far in advance and I knew it was coming, but it still doesn’t make it any less bittersweet.
For the past year, I’ve been working as office manager and birth assistant for a Brooklyn-based homebirth midwifery practice, the very same practice that helped me birth my daughter safely and peacefully in my living room just over two years ago – and the same practice that will help me birth Boo sometime next month.
This job was the first I held after spending my daughter’s first 15 months at home and the opportunity presented itself at just the perfect time for our family. I enjoyed being home with her, but I was slowly gearing up my own birth business already – having attended my first three births as a doula just that fall – and leapt at the opportunity to get back into the workforce in such a meaningful (and part-time) way.
I had hoped to work a bit longer before taking another extended maternity leave, but the universe had other ideas so here we are. One year back in the office and now another stint back at home.
Reading Ashley’s post yesterday got me thinking about this new (again) phase for me. During my first pregnancy, I had every intention of returning to my job after a couple of months off, but plans changed mid-stream and I found myself happily at home with the baby instead.
This time around, I’m in a very different place. I’m in a job I love, but it’s not terribly family-friendly work because of the on-call nature of one side of it. And while I’d love to return to the office portion down the road just to get out of the house and keep those connections alive, it doesn’t pay enough to justify the personal sacrifice or cover childcare-for-two at NYC prices. Last time, I was in a job that bored me, but it came with a generous salary, amazing benefits, and some level of flexibility. Though, on the flip side, it did also include an hour-long commute.
Last time, my biggest sacrifice was financial. This time, it’s emotional.
We are fortunate in that we can make ends meet on one income and I’ll be forever grateful that It’s an active choice we’re able to make. It’s not pretty and we certainly cut corners and budget tightly to make it possible, but we don’t mind living simply and foregoing vacations and other luxuries in order to buy this early time at home with the kiddos for one of us.
I don’t know how long I’ll be out of the paid workforce this time. I’m leaving that decision for later. Part of me thinks I’ll be itching to get back into the “real” world soon to use my brain and converse with adults on a regular basis. But the other part of me thinks I may very well be just as content to transform myself into a radical homemaker, Master’s degree and all.
I guess time will tell. In the meantime, I’m going to be grateful for these days and weeks and months where I get to be my children’s primary caregiver and not try to think too hard about what lies ahead.