Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Making the call

Oh, mamas. I know you'll relate. And non-mamas: here's an insight to what pulls at our heartstrings. I knew the end of summer meant finding a concrete answer to the question, "Will I return to work?" It is a loaded question. I had visitors up here and went on visits throughout summer, so an immediate return to work when we moved to Whitehorse in June was off the table. I bought myself some time to think, to rediscover Whitehorse and to get a more accurate picture of what life on either side of the question could be like.
Staying at home would mean, first and foremost, I would have the final say on overseeing Abby's development in her primary formative years. This comes with the responsibility of filling our days with fun, educational, and varied experiences. This comes with not having sick days of my own, being cooped up in -30 and -40 weeks, and being deprived of guaranteed daily adult interaction. It means living a very routine schedule most days, and constantly be searching for new games and activities to fill our time.
Returning to work, part-time or full, would mean I get to fulfill my passion for writing in a challenging and exciting way. I would be interviewing and getting out on the city daily, writing to deadline, brainstorming new stories and untouched angles, using the degree I paid for. It would mean taking days off when Abby is sick, but also staying home if I am. Returning to work would mean freedom for lunch breaks with anyone I want, but the inability to stay late or cover evening stories unless Rich was home to watch Abby. It would mean extra income to play around with, and socialization outside of the home for Abby.
There are convincing and founded arguments in medical/social journals for both decisions. I have ;earned to trust my instinct more than a book, but when it comes to the future development and raising of Abby, I felt implied to consider what the experts said on either side.
When we were home in Ottawa, I loved seeing Abby's development be formed by influence from a village of people: my family, Rich's family, our great friends. I want her life to be enriched by many loving adults. Sadly, we have no family up here. But maybe daycare or a day home would fill that gap? Give Abby some different adult role models? Surely she'd benefit from the socialization with other kids from different ages?
For all the time I spent pregnant with her, dreaming of what her life would be like, of what kind of mother I'd be, I feel resistant to handing off a large chunk of parenting during Abby's waking hours to someone else, even another trusted mother with like values.
Journalists don't make a lot of money, and child care costs a lot. Would I be working to bring home a slim advantage?
About a month ago, I started to lean towards staying home with Abby. If people asked about my plans to return the work, I mentioned that I was thinking of staying home. I was surprised by how many people thought it strange. Truly, it is not the norm, at least in my socioeconomic demographic. I felt like an odd duck, and I wondered to myself if this was doubt. Do I need to work to feel complete as a writer, as a mother, wife and woman?
I write this now not to convince anyone, not to justify myself, but to illustrate how very personal and individual this choice is.
I chose to stay home, and I went to my employers terrified of delivering the news. I didn't know if they were expecting me to announce my start date, or if they didn't want to take me back at all. I approached them honestly, and told them what was weighing in the balance of the decision. I don't know, it just felt strange telling employers about tough parenting choice, even though both are parents themselves. They were very understanding and, thankfully, more than willing to keep me around on an ad hoc, freelance basis. This is perfect.
We'll see how this ends up looking in the next weeks and months. But I am encouraged by the prospect of keeping a foot in the door, writing professionally and personally, and being the primary caregiver for the little girl I birthed and raised through tough and exhilarating times thus far.


  1. Yup!!! I can totally relate. Not an easy decision at all and nothing is carved in stone so don't fret if it feels wrong....then right again...and so on.

    I've done both and for us it was too hard on the family to have both of us working outside the home so I am back home once again with some work in my "spare" time to bring in some extra $.

    Found this link recently and the choice to "commit" really hit home for me. Enjoy...

  2. I know the feeling and if it was at all financially possible to stay at home I would in a heartbeat! You have to do what is right for you and your family!

  3. Such a tough decision! I loved my job, but I felt done with it, and was to stressed over someone else watching Skyla, or making it work bringing her to work, having opposite days off from James, so he could watch her while I worked and vice versa. Daycare just seemed pointless for the pay I would be bringing in. And I really in my heart wanted to be home, but it's tough. The only family is my sister, who works and is in school, friends I see once, twice a month...everytime I try to get a regular thing going, a routine of outings/social time...we hit a bump. So I struggle with the lack of adult social time and feel "am I holding my kid back?" because she misses out on daycare time? Le sigh. The grass is always greener ;) I really appreciated that article "staying where my hand are" thank you for sharing it.

    With fall around the corner, I have been tackling a plan, ways to keep us sane and busy through the rainy wet winter, regular playdates, and a commitment to really cherish that quality time with my daughter, to not rush places, give her my full attention all the time. Winter is so gray here, and I tend to fall into a rut, and refuse to let my daughter have to suffer MY rut :P

    We will have to swap ideas, if only whitehorse was a short car ride away! hehee

  4. Great post. Can obviously relate.

    Not sure if this article relates to your work, but it was basically my decision maker when it came to returning to work or not. Hope you enjoy it!


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