21w3d- Seems like the hierarchy of questions I get after people find out I’m pregnant is: 1) Do you know if you’re having a girl or boy? 2) Are you going back to work after you have the baby?
Shouldn’t there be a few transitional, less loaded questions in between? How about — How are you feeling? Are you having any cravings? When’s your due date? Are you peeing a billion times? Any other question would be easier for me.
I’ve struggled with the working mom versus stay-at-home mom decision since before I was even pregnant, or married for that matter. My mom stayed at home with my sister and me, so I couldn’t picture it any other way. I always felt so lucky to have my mom around. She was (and very much still is) the ultimate nurturer. When I had to get stitches in 5th grade, she was already at my school volunteering. When I had a mid-day softball game in high school an hour away, she drove my teammates and me to the game. When my friend forgot his lunch, she quickly made an extra and dropped it off at school.
But I love my job. And I love pushing myself to do more, climb the ladder, find my professional calling, contribute to our household income…
Everything happens in cycles. First, we had no choice. Man works. Woman stays home, cooks, cleans and has babies. Then, we supposedly had a choice but everyone turned their noses up at working moms. Next came a total backlash, where it seemed if we didn’t exercise our right to work and opted to stay at home, society judged you as weak.
Now, in my opinion, there’s a ton of pressure to be everything all at once. To do it all. To be everything to everyone. There are countless shows, movies, books and talk shows about it. But can I pull this off? How do you know what’s best for your family until you have that family? How will I know until I’m holding that baby in my arms?
I’m very jealous of the people that are 100 percent confident in one direction or the other. I’ve had friends who put in their 40-week notice the second they find out they’re pregnant. And I’ve had other friends who proclaim, “I could NEVER stay home all day with a baby.”
The one thing I know right now at 21 weeks pregnant: I’m extremely lucky that I have my mom just a few miles down the road. She can’t wait to get rid of me and have that baby all to herself. So, I have the option. If my mom didn’t live in the same city, I would be writing a very different blog post.
I also feel lucky to live in an era where I can make the decision based on my family’s needs. Every decade figures it out a little more and lays the groundwork more permanently for the next. There are so many options for working mothers that didn’t exist even a few years ago, like the non-partner track for attorneys. There’s a mutual understanding between the mom and the company, where the company doesn’t expect the mom to work 120 hours a week and, at the same time, the mom doesn’t expect to make partner any time soon. There are also many companies that have on-site childcare, let you bring your kids to work or even let you work from home.
So, my answer for now: I'm not stressing about it, but I do plan to come back to work after my maternity leave. I love my new position at my company and my co-workers are wonderful. Most have multiple kids of their own and are already gracefully juggling kids and work. I have a lot to learn from them.
How did you decide whether to stay at home or be a working mom?