Having this week off to recover and do nothing in particular feels like being a stay at home mom. I did a little laundry (Ian moved the laundry basket for me), made dinners, walked Benji to school each morning. When Benji had some issues with being bullied at school, I set up and went to a meeting with the vice-principal to talk about it. When Ian needed to get some extra work done, he stayed at work a little later, no problem.
Today I’m meeting a friend for lunch and taking my bikes to the bike shop, and I have all day to do it. It’s easy. No carefully coordinating when I’ll be able to make it there during business hours, or can Ian do it on his way to work, and then when can I get them back…
And I need to call and arrange an exterminator (rats in the crawl space) and a plumber (laundry room smells like sewage), and again scheduling will be whenever they can make it. Handy.
I’d forgotten how much flexibility there is when you’re a stay-at-home parent. It’s easy to schedule home repairs, it’s easy to flex for the working spouse’s schedule, it’s easy to accommodate school and kid needs. I know life isn’t actually easy as a stay-at-home parent; you tend to take on the family planner/contractor/volunteer coordinator/house cleaner/chef/person-who-takes-care-of-everything-else role, and it’s a ton of work.
But compared to trying to do a lot of those things while working a full-time job, I’ve certainly felt like things were easier. And it’s made me consider, once again, what’s best for our family and for me in terms of my working and career.
I really enjoy my job — don’t get me wrong. I deeply appreciate and respect my boss and I enjoy working with my teammates. I’ve developed positive relationships with numerous coworkers in other departments (of whom a majority have now left; turnover is a fact of life). I keep learning and stretching my brain. I get paid to write! And I like technical writing, even if I do tend to add too many words. I help achieve team goals. I strive to excel. Incidentally, the added income cushion sure reduces our financial stress and allows us discretionary spending otherwise impossible for us.
January 2020 will mark my three-year work anniversary. That’s surprisingly long tenure for my company, where people usually stay two years or less, but not particularly long on my team. We have much lower turnover than the company as a whole, a tribute to my boss. Anyway, I don’t think I’ve gone any six-month period since starting at my job without questioning the decision to go back to work.
This recovery time, especially as I’ve felt increasingly normal, has again made me question the sacrifices we all make so I can work. Are the benefits worth it? I just don’t know. I don’t have any new insights here; just an ongoing emotional struggle. And I don’t know how to decide. I wish there was a world where we didn’t have to choose career or family.