The following was written by Mrs FFB. As you may remember, before the school year started we made the decision that my wife wouldn’t return to work (in education) and instead stay home to raise the kids. Below is her rationale. Enjoy!
I remember when I was in college and I had this end term goal of having a career, making my own money, buying my own things and being a “professional” woman. The thing is, ever since I was a little girl, I also always had a dream of being a mom. I never knew or could ever even imagine how these two, opposing aspirations would collide with each other in my future life.
When I was in college I had this assistant teacher position in a nursery/daycare. I remember working the “extended” day which ran until 6pm and feeling so awful for these young children who were still in the daycare center. I was so judgmental of these mothers: “This is wrong!”, “How could they leave their babies here until 6pm!” “A young child should be in their home during this time of the day!” I was real heated about this topic. ….Little did I know at the young age of 19 years old, that this would be my life one day.
So I graduated college and nabbed myself a teaching position for September. I was so excited about this upcoming career and making “good” money (up until that point, I had made minimum wage working the daycare). It turns out that I was pregnant and expecting in January but I didn’t care and wasn’t going to let the pregnancy get in the way of working. I didn’t tell the principal during my interview that I was pregnant and just showed up the day after labor day all prego. Luckily, I wasn’t really showing, but by October there was a buzz going around the school and I finally told the principal but assured him that I would return to work in 6 weeks.
I had no idea what I was in for. When my daughter was born, I fell in love times 1000 and I couldn’t bare the idea of leaving my little baby. So I took off the rest of the school year and returned to work that following September.
That September became the beginning of a long, hard phase in my life: working mom (and for a few years -single, working mom). My daughter was 8 months old and I had a stay at home friend of mine babysit my daughter. The problem with this friend was that she lived really far and out of the way. So I had this awful drive to her home each morning. Not to mention that I barely had any sleep. I remember nights when my daughter would just wake up and stay up- we’d watch Elmopalooza! in the dark wee hours of the morning. Then I was expected to be a completely functional teacher for a very challenging class.
When my daughter turned two I enrolled her in daycare. So this was my life for a number of years: late to work every morning, trying to get a difficult toddler ready to leave the house, driving haphazardly to the daycare, rushing her into the daycare and then running out to my car and racing to get to the school. On top of all this stress, I was going to graduate school and because I was a poor single mom, I worked afterschool too. There were some nights when we didn’t get home until 10 pm. Then we’d have to get up early and do it all over again.
It was very hard and depressing, so not what I thought motherhood would be like. So when I was engaged to be married (with the wonderful FFB, edit) and knew that I wanted to have more children, I vowed and proclaimed that I would stay home at least 2 years with my child due to the trauma I experienced with being a working mom with my daughter.
Four months after we were married, I was pregnant. It was one of the happiest, most pleasant phases of my life. I actually was ok with going to work at this point. My daughter was a bit older, in first grade now and I new that I was taking a long leave of absence. I literally worked up until the day I delivered the baby.
Somewhere during the childcare leave, I started to feel pressured to return to work in September and against my original plans to stay home for at least 2 years, I decided to go back to work… again. It was the year of hell. My son was 8 months old and I put him in daycare. I remember bringing him to the “wobbler” room and thinking about how surreal it all was. 8 babies sitting in little high chairs and wondering about how well a daycare worker, who is paid minimum wage, was going to care for my son. I felt so bad and guilty. Not even 2 weeks into daycare, my son got sick. Then he was sick every single week with some kind of cold virus. Either he was just getting a cold or getting over a cold. I was constantly at the pediatrician’s and at one point he was even on a nebulizer for respiratory distress. It was so horrible to know that I needed to stay home with my sick son but also face the repercussions of being absent from the job. I felt that my son was more important so I would always stay home with him when he was sick but i still found the whole scenario agonizing and extremely distressing. I hated having to call into to work, over and over again as it turns out – 17 times! After a while, i just accepted the fact that maybe I would get fired or get written up or something. I didn’t even care at that point.
I was so spent. I too become sick often and was severely sleep deprived. I sucked at the job cause I was so distraught over my decision to return to work, taking care of a sick baby and lack of sleep. It was just terrible. One morning I was so tired and in such a rush that I crashed our car in the garage! I knew that things were really bad at this point.
So I persevered and made it until the end of the school year and had this long summer vacation to look forward to. I pulled my son out of daycare and enjoyed every second with my children but then we got to the end of August and the anxiety of returning back to work started to over take me.
After a friend of mine made an enlightening comment to me about why wouldn’t I just return to work when my son was older (since my leave permits that), then why wouldn’t I just do that? So I started to really sit on this idea. Why was I so afraid to follow my dream of being a stay at home mom? There is my whole life to work but only like 4-5 years of a child’s life when they really, really need their mothers. So why was i doing this to us? Maybe I wouldn’t have any more kids and I would’ve missed my only chance to do the “right” thing (for us). I missed out on all those years with my daughter and was doing the same damn thing, 7 years later to my son. Now when my daughter was little, I was a single mom and didn’t have a choice. But now I had a husband and our financial situation was solid, so why not just try it? “I could always go back to work the following year,” I pleaded with my husband.
I have to tell you, I am so happy now. I can wake up in the morning. I don’t curse the sun for rising like I used to. I no longer have grim thoughts of despair about the day ahead of me, ” how am I going to make it through the day,” “why can’t it be Saturday,” “I am sooo tired, I can’t do this,” or my favorite - “what if I just quit and not even call or show up?!?” Now I wake up get my daughter ready for school and I don’t have to drag my 23 month old son out in the wee hours of the morning. He gets to bumble around HIS home, eating breakfast at his leisure. We got to the park, we do errands, we make meals, visit other stay at home moms… Life is truly wonderful now! I am so happy and so is my son and daughter! I realize now that when they would give me a hard time in the morning, they were just reacting to being rushed and all the stress I would put on them. Now things are so pleasant.
We had to make a lot of changes to accommodate to one income and we certainly aren’t living the lifestyle I imagined we would’ve been at this point in my life, but we are happy now!