Before I had children…or even the thought of having children, I had always heard how expensive child care was. I had heard how difficult it was to leave you baby in the care of another and how some mothers dedicated a lot of time to finding the ‘right’ child care provider.
As a single, carefree, academically driven woman, I didn’t care to think too much about it. I figured I might or might not have a family one day and weren’t kids expensive anyway???? When I finally decided, I was ready and was pregnant with my first child, I was offered an option to work from home. I could stay home with my baby, nurse on demand and continue to meet the duties of my full-time job. I loved it! Yes, there were hard days. Yes, sometimes I longed for hours and hours of interrupted time, but that doesn’t happen in the office…like…ever.
I had a great gig for 4 years. By the time, I was back in the office 2 days a week (by choice) and my daughter was in full day preschool, I was pregnant with baby #2. Not having to drag my morning sickness bedraggled self into the office everyday was a God send. I had a bit of privacy all pregnant women need.
While I had nothing to complain about, I still felt torn. I was in a dead-end job (nowhere to move ‘up’ to in my department) and underpaid. I felt unimportant in my career, stagnant. I took advantage of trainings and leadership opportunities but I knew that to make more money or advance, I would have to leave my position and possibly my employer all together. On top of the lack luster of work, I felt like I was unable to give my child 100% attention during the day and I that work was always right there. It wasn’t difficult to log off and put work away, but I felt like I had to be available and responsive to email all the time. The thought of simply ‘staying home’ never seemed like an option if I had a work from home job. Instead, I would trudge on while my heart desperately longed to stay home unencumbered by the 9-5 tether.
Sometimes, the heart gets what the heart desires.
In July of this year, my employer made the announcement that employees living within 100 miles of the Institution were required to be ‘co-located’ (come back to the office) by September (just after Labor Day in the U.S.). I planned for my return to the office, but I already knew what my decision was.
I spent the remainder of the summer working remotely and took the last few weeks of my maternity leave in September. My 10-month-old infant began attending daycare in October and I spent 7.5 hours in my cubicle and another 2 hours a day in my car. This was not the motherhood I ever envisioned for myself.
On October 15, 2018 I let my supervisor know that I would be leaving my position. As I write this post, it is my 8 year anniversary of employment with this company and position. I had initially only planned to stay 3 years but babies became my priority and flexibility won over monetary gain and bigger titles. I do not have a date for my final day of employment, but it will be before the end of the calendar year.
I am not scared. I would never have guessed that I would become a stay-at-home parent in my 40’s. Nor did I think it would be by my own choice (I have survived 2 major layoffs with this company). But I am 100% READY! Sometimes, you get what you desire the most.