Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Ponderings: To Opt-in or Opt-out

Ponderings: To Opt-in or Opt-out

* As a full-time working mom ( and a mom in general) I’m often hit with that guilty feeling. You know, the one where you’re going about your day, talking to co-workers, shifting through papers, editing copy when you’re reminded that you have a child at home. And you’re not there with them. I’ve read so many articles, blogs and essays on the guilt moms and dads experience when they decide to head back into the office. But then there are also reports of parents (mostly moms) who regret scaling back. So, what the heck? For me the choice whether work or stay home with Brynna was clear: Work. We need two incomes to support the lifestyle we’ve been enjoying these past few years. But when asked if given the choice,  would I stay home with the baby, I tend to oscillate between “Heck yes” to “probably not.” My hesitation to enter the stay at home camp (and yes, I know the term may cause eyes to roll but I believe there are some mommy camps out there. I don’t think it’s intentional but rather based on circumstance. Working moms can’t meet during morning and afternoon play dates, so friendships are formed among certain groups. It happens and is quite understandable. Of course you are going to become friend with those you have time to connect with. For the record, some of my closest mommy friends are full time, part time working and stay at home moms.) is fear. So in typically Amby fashion, let’s list them:
Why I’m terrified to leave my career field
  • I will become totally overwhelmed with taking care of  a little person 24/7 with no breaks, no lunch time, no 15 minute breaks.
  • Fear that things will shift in my marriage. Like for instance, even though we both agree that all household chores (mainly cooking and cleaning up dog crap) should not fall to me by default, will that still hold true once I commit to being home full time?
  • Yes I am scared that my “title” will no longer be journalist but simply, mom. What’s wrong with that title? Nothing, of course but after spending 8 plus years identifying myself as a journalist, it’s hard to step away.
  • What if I can’t back into the writing world after leaving it for so long?
  • Money, always money worries. Will one income really be enough? Can I be okay not buying those pair of Steve Madden’s I’ve had my eye on?
But then there are all the reasons to stay home such as
  • not missing out on anything Brynna does.
  • Having the title of mommy/homemaker/writer and wife sounds better than the simple “writer”. I mean, who isn’t a writer these days?
  • Having the time to really focus on Brynna and nurture friendships with other mommies. One of the biggest fears I have is that Brynna will not have any playmates because her mom can’t make friends.
  • It would be so nice to be able to relieve my husband of some of the stress of daily must-dos like walking the dogs, paying bills, taking the car to the mechanic (cooking is totally out of the question though).
  • I can be that mom that I’ve imagined myself being. You know that one who bakes, drops off and picks up her daughter from school, spends afternoons making crafts and spending quality time without worrying about checking emails. 
Let’s face it moms — both stay at home and working moms — wear so many different hats from employee to mom, wife, home organizer, party planner, accountant, mediator and friend. So why get stuck on a title? I’ve come to realize it’s not the stripping of the title of “journalist” that scares me. It’s the fear of stepping away from a life I’ve always known into a position so relativity new that it still scares the crap out of me.
So, until I figure out what is the next best step for our family when people ask “What do you do for a living?” My reply will simply be “What don’t I do?” And that’s the truth, well; I guess I can’t claim that I’m a cook and dog-crap-picker-upper. But they don’t have to know that.
How did you decide to stay at home or continue to work?