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I had my interview today. It came after one of our worst nights ever. Mr. E came down with a fever of 104 yesterday afternoon and then started vomiting. He was miserable and would not go to sleep on his own. Eventually we all snuggled in bed and fell asleep around 10pm. We got an unprecedented four hours of consecutive sleep. Followed by three hours of no sleep. While up giving him Motrin at 4am, I said to A, “how am I going to have it together enough to go on an interview?” In truth, I knew how – I’d do it just they way I’ve gotten out of bed for the last year, but what I meant was how would I go to work after nights like this? How will I work out of the home during the day and then work all night for E? Or maybe the question was why would I do it The fact is we have a high needs night baby. And while it’s not easy living on one income, we can do it. We are dong it. And it’s hard. I look for signs in everything, so A was not surprised when I said “this is E’s way of telling me not to go back to work.”

This morning was rough – cling monster would not let me get ready. I finally had to ask my SIL to come over so I could shower and prepare for the interview – which I did in 45 minutes! She watched E while I was on the interview. I nailed the interview. I felt so confident. For the first time in a year I felt connected to my career life. I really knew what I was talking about and they really liked what I said. I also learned the job encompasses some components that I was not too excited about. I left feeling great – great that I could still talk the higher ed jargon, and at the prospect of a job when I am ready. I left feeling great for finally reconciling that I am not ready to go back to work.


This whole interview-which-may-result-in-me-going-back-to-work thing has had my stomach turned inside out.

My concerns are:

  1. I never wanted my son to attend formal day care
  2. I don’t want to work just to pay for day care
  3. Being home affords Mr. E a relaxed schedule, which I really really really value

I currently work about 10 hours per week. Half of which is on the morning when A is home and the other time my SIL watches Mr. E. After careful thought A and I have decided that should we be in a place where I am made an offer, I will only accept if no outside day care is needed.

Impossible, you think?

Not so. If I were to take this job (which is 18hrs/wk) and the scheduling is at my convenience, then we will be able to juggle our schedules in a way that would allow us to forgo formal day care. If not, I will have to decline. It isn’t worth it to put him in day care.

A is ready for me to go back to work. She really wants me to get a job. I, on the other hand, think I could be quite content to stay home until Mr. E and future child go to school, at which time I’d work “mothers hours.” And this baffles me…I always thought my career was going to be it for me. But things really do change when you have kids.

So think of me at Noon on Wednesday when I will be on the other side of the table for the first time in 5 1/2 years.

A couple months back I wrote about thinking about going back to work. I was tortured by the decision of whether to apply to a really great job, or not. I decided I was not ready to put Mr. E in day care and did not apply. All along I’ve kind of thought going back to work would be more work than it was worth and that at the end of the day our bank account would remain pretty much the same, after paying for child care.

Two weeks ago I applied for a job. It’s only part time (18 hours) and is only for the academic year (summers off). I was very excited about the position,  at the idea of using my brain again, and at the prospect of doing what I am good at. As time passed and I did not get a call for an interview, I remembered why I didn’t want to go back to work. And I’ve settled back into the idea that I will be home with Mr. E pretty much indefinitely.

Today I got a call. I scheduled an interview for next Wednesday at Noon. I am not excited. I am curious. Part of me hopes I will go on the interview fall in love with the people and the job and get an offer, and the other part of me hopes the interview will lessen my interest and end this ridiculous process.

How can I be so completely torn about this issue? Why is it so hard to know what you want? I know  it’s only 18 hours per week. But it’s still establishing a routine, finding care provides for Mr. E, participating in the day care shuffle… I really do like being home – I love our flexible days. Sometimes it’s boring and other times it’s really hard, but at the end of the day, I am full-filled. Take today for example, he and I were both napping and when he woke I brought him to my bed to nurse and cuddle. As we laid there, him nursing, me stroking his hair, I looked out the window and watched the snow gently falling. I thought, there is no place I’d rather be right now. But from time to time I’ve had the slightest craving to get back to work – and to think – creatively.  It’s hard for me to switch gears, I tend to be better at things if I am doing it 100%. I think I fear that by going back to work – even part time, I will have a hard time being good at being a worker and a mom.

There is also the the emotional side. With Mr. E’s first birthday behind us, I am making some progress on wrapping my head around child care. He’s not as fragile as he once was and I can see him holding his own. We’re also in a the very beginning stages of figuring out milk when I am not with him. I’ve sort of decided that I don’t want to pump any more. Our current set up has me away from him for 1 -2 feedings per week. Since it’s so few, I’ve been feeling okay about introducing some type of milk for when I am not with him so I can stop pumping and I will continue to breastfeed when we’re together. This was all decided under the 1 -2 feedings per week guise, and now, now it would be so much more if I started working. I am just not sure if I am ready to give up that much of our nursing relationship – so fast.

All I can commit to is going on the interview. At this point I am going to get more information- I have no idea what I’ll do if they make me an offer. (I’m also just feeling so weird about how much changes while job seraching as a mom…it’s a whole new ball of wax!)

Last week while looking at vacancies at a local school A found a job posting that matched my interests, qualifications, education, and experience. It’s an 18 hour per week job. The person who supervises this positions is someone who had a great impact on my own secondary education experience. I don’t have the energy to go into all the details, but let’s just say I was drowning and she threw me a life jacket.

A and my mother immediately encouraged me to apply to the job. The job excited me in a way I have not felt for a very long time. And then reality set in and thoughts of leaving Mr. E were realized. We dialogued back and forth and in the end they pretty much convinced me to apply and deal with the details later.

I emailed the supervisor posing some questions about the position. I had sort of decided if it paid more than $20 per hour I’d apply. The email I received back filled in some of the details and – it pays more than $20 per hour… I sat down to update my resume and began wrapping my head around the idea of putting Mr. E in day care. And then little things would make me reconsider. It may sound weird but as I was getting out of the shower and saw his potty I thought, they won’t do EC with him. And it seems like most day cares won’t cloth diaper. Then there’s just the fact that he’d be under someone else’s care. On the flip side, while we were on a play date last week I sat back and watched as he went to town playing with his friend’s toys – hardly even noticing I was there. And I thought, maybe he’d love day care?

A and I decided I’d apply and we’d just see what happened. Tonight I sat down and blew the dust off my resume. And that knot found it’s way back to my stomach. I couldn’t focus enough to write a cover letter. I recalled the number of times people have told me it’s nearly impossible to secure day care for infants (birth – 15 mos). I stopped updating my resume and began playing on Face.book.

As A and I laid in bed tonight (I am now up thanks to Mr. E – he’s back down but my head is so full of thoughts I can’t sleep) we talked it over again. We both really don’t think this is the right time to start him in day care. When I did the math, I figured out in the new position, after paying for day care I’d take home about the same amount of money that I currently make working nine hours per week, while Mr. E is with either A or my SIL. But I’d have the added annoyance of packing him up and carting him off to day care and juggling schedules when he’s sick. I’m not ready to join the day care rat race – certainly not for the same amount of money at the end of the day.

Currently, we lead a very relaxed (although poor) lifestyle. My work is flexible and we are never away from each other for more than five hours. I don’t have to pump with any regualirty and If he’s sick I just stay home with him. The only benefit to applying to the job, is, well, it’s in my field and I think I’d like it and be really good at it. It would probably open doors to other opportunities. But at this time, I don’t think any job could take me away from my boy.

This week begins my true true stay at home mom role. I’ve been working 20 hours, over three to four days since we moved and while that does not sound like a lot, it is when you are trying to manage work and a kid. And by that I mean a work life and a kid life. Really delving in at work and getting things done, then completely shifting gears at home to entertain and care for Mr. E, when all I really wanted was to be with him all the time.

What I’ve learned is that I don’t make that shift too easily. On the days I worked, I came home and couldn’t get into the Mr. E groove, on the day(s) I was home I found myself cramming in all the SAHM things I wanted to do, since I only had one to two days to do them. In short, I could not find balance. Now I am working one and a half days in the office with a little bit of working from home. A is working 40 hours, in the 9-5:30 fashion. I couldn’t be happier, and neither could she.

I can’t explain why I love being home. There is something relaxing about hanging out with Mr. E, playing silly games, and dancing to childrens music for hours on end that feeds my soul. I wrote often while I was on maternity leave about how peaceful I felt, a feeling completely new to me. Well I’m already beginning to feel that peacefulness again. Sometimes I forget that I was on a career path. And until not too long ago, didn’t have any intention of stepping of my path.

There are times when I feel as though I am seeing myself in a mirror, and just can’t believe I gave myself permission to apply the brakes. To listen to the voice that told me I wanted to stay home, and to chance the resume void that SAHMs inevitably create. While A and I ate dinner tonight and chatted about our days, she excited to be back to working full time, me ecstatic to be home, I told her how odd it feels not to know when I will return to full time professional work out side the home. It really could be years. And I am okay with that.

Maternity leave is officially over.

There’s a post brewing in my mind about how sacred the time was that we spent together while I was on leave.

Tomorrow, I will pull on the Mei Tai and Mr. E will come to work with me. Should be interesting. I can’t even begin to imagine what it’ll be like to go back after this long. Thankfully, it won’t be for long.

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Two days ago I was looking at a calender for 2008 and plotting out when I’d return to work if I delivered at 38, 40, or 42 weeks- which are all well within the range of what’s to be expected. Now granted when I go back to work I will then leave my job on June 15th when my “contract” is up and we move across the state. Once there, everything is a big question mark.

But back to me looking at the calender. I realized how sad I was at the thought of going back to work, even for 6 to 8 weeks. I’ve been telling myself – and everyone else that once we move I’ll mostly be a SAHM, while I work a very flexible and part time gig with my Dad. Child care will be provided by my SIL and/or my hours will be worked around A’s work schedule in effort to avoid day care. My Dad has gone so far as to say, just bring the baby to work. Which I would not do with regularity because I know I’d get nothing done.

Those feelings of sadness were eased by knowing that when I do return to finish the school year A will be home with the baby and that we know for certain that Moon will be home with one of us from birth till through August, at least. I am truly thankful for that. But for the first time I began to accept the reality that I have no idea if I’ll be able to stay home. I am cozily balled up in my fantasy of staying home while A works. But the truth is, we have no idea what our life and financial situation will be after we move. The  unknow has let me carry out this dream of being a SAHM and I’ve begun to truly believe it will happen. I know we will do anything with in our power to make it happen, but that may not be enough.

I find myself incredibly jealous of women who can easily make the choice to stay home. By this I mean those who have the financial resources. The privilege. I remember telling my mom I waned to stay home (back before the plan to relocate, which does make staying home more attainable) and she knew that in our current situation we’d never make it after giving up half our income. And she kind of gave me the are you crazy look? Yet, she and my Dad still scoff at how my brother and SIL put their son in day care at 17 months since they didn’t need to.

If I get to stay home we’ll be living on a shoe string. But I’ll be with our baby. That is what we both want. We don’t have anything against day care, and do respect that each family makes a decision that is best for them. We think avoiding day care is best for us. This is a huge shift for me. When we first started ttc I never imagined I’d stay home, let alone want to stay home. The shift came after all the pain and effort it took for us to conceive. Through that process I began to want this baby more than I ever imagined possible.

Before conceiving my career path was my priority. And I am at cross road where if I want to strategically advance my career now is the time to make the next move. But our journey lead me to this desire to spend every possible moment with the baby. I do think the challenges we faced drives this shift. At the same time, our expanding family unit shifted our priorities to wanting to live in close proximity to family. In embracing this, I have essentially decided to put my career in the back seat (maybe even the third row). There are no where near as many opportunities for me where we are relocating to. Yet, I couldn’t be happier about providing our child with the opportunity to grow up with his or her cousins, aunt & uncle, grandparents, and many other extended family members.

We have no idea how this will all play out. I am holding on to the hope that I will stay home and we’ll just find a way to make it work, and I am working on accepting that my dreams of being a SAHM may not turn out just as I expect them to.

Most days I am equally excited about the birth of Moon because for the most part it also means an end to the job I have come to dislike. Yes I will go back to work for four to six weeks once my maternity leave is over, but it will be in May/June and I will just be there to close out the academic year. So I won’t be dealing with all the things that make me most crazy.

I’ve given a lot to this school and my job in the last three years and I knew when I made the decision to stay on for a fourth year that it was a “me” year. I was not pregnant at the time, but I planned to stay so we could continue to aggressively ttc and I knew if we stayed on track I’d be eligible for IVF coverage in January. I stayed in a last ditch attempt to get pregnant. Not long after making that decision, I became pregnant and then I felt I had to stay for the sake of consistency and benefits and all that stuff.

As I ‘ve begun to settle into the routine of this year (I speak in academic years…) I’ve remembered the things that make this job so hard: the long hours, the weekends worked, too many demands on my time by too many people, one crisis bumping another, being a supervisor, working really hard and feeling like I’ll still never get it all done…and so I begin to feel down about the job and this also moves me into a semi checked out place where I sometimes confuse late January with our due date and instead think of it as my stop work date.

And then, from time to time, when I step out of my office – even though this means I fall even further behind in my administrative tasks – and sit down to connect with students (yes! students, those creatures I spent my graduate years preparing to work with, and who usually inspire me) I gain a wave on energy, a sense of how to make meaning in my job. And then sometimes when I am walking across campus (or through the grocery store) and I see one of my students, and they wave and smile and I do the same, I get the same warm feeling.

Being that this is my fourth year in my position, there are some students that started their education here the same year I came to work here, and we’ve moved along this path together. While there are so many things I fault this school for and so many things that frustrate me about my job, it’s these students that I will have been with for all four years when we move on in the spring, as well as the others that were here before me or came after I started who’ve inspired me, that I will miss when I move on.

I’ve made peace with the fact that I need a break from higher education and given myself permission to step off the track even though I labored through graduate school to get here…some day I may find myself back in academia, but for now I need a break. A real long break.

When I was in grad school they warned us, most days will be thankless, but every so often you’ll have a moment where you’ll realize it’s all worth it. Up until now, I’ve had minor instances where this has occurred. Today, for the first time since I finished grad school (four years ago), I had my full on, you made a difference in my life and I am sorry I was such an ass to you while you hung in there with me experience.

Well really it started yesterday. I received a phone call from a former intern of mine who graduated last year. I’ll just say that he was one of the toughest students I’ve worked with, questioned and fought me all the way, did nothing to make my life easy, did the least amount of work required to keep his job, and there was one time when his conduct was so out of line that I was near firing him which resulted in a meeting where we exchanged dissenting opinions about what was expected and when I called him out on his behavior he lashed out and eventually got up, walked out of my office and slammed my door. I of course when running after him and ordered him (I’ve never ordered a student prior or since this incident) back into my office if he had any intentions of saving his job.

Because I consider myself an educator, I tried really hard. I kept at him and I tried to meet him where he was. To say he did not get how his actions impacted other people or that the world did not revolve around him, would be an understatement. At times I was so frustrated. And probably not always patient. But after the door slamming incident, we began to repair our working relationship and rebuilding trust. I tried my best to foster growth in areas where I knew he could succeed and spent many hours in conversations about his worries about graduating and becoming more independent. You know, a grown up in the world taking care of himself.

I invested time. And energy. And I’ve done this with countless students. And I did not think I was making any difference with this one particular student. In a way I was relieved when he graduated because the idea of working with him for another year was exhausting.

So back to the phone message yesterday. Out of the blue I received a message from this former student of mine. He starts off by telling me he’s now working in my field and he is so sorry for being such an ass to me. He goes on to say he gets it…all the things I did…and that he really wants to take me out to lunch to talk. And then today we ran into each other at a campus event and he just kept telling me over and over how sorry he was and that he now understands where I was coming from and why I did everything I did. And he told me that I was a good supervisor. That I had made an impact. That he respects how I did my job, and again that he was sorry for being an ass. We spent over an hour talking about the growth he’s experienced in a very few months. I told him how much I thought he’d grown and I thanked him for all the things he said to me. In some way I felt like we had come full circle. And he could finally see beyond his needs. He’s become a little less selfish and has started his way towards becoming an adult. A person who can put others before him, and responsibilities before his own desires. Four months ago, he could not do this. And my heart smiled know in some way, I had an impact on him. That the work I do matters. They weren’t lying to me in grad school that it’s rare that former or current students come back and tell you that you mattered, but what they neglected to tell me was how amazing it would feel when it does happen.

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