This time two years ago, heavily pregnant with our last child, I felt a silent pull. I didn’t want to return to work soon after baby was born. Or any time in the foreseeable future. With a two year-old and soon-to-be newborn, I knew the upcoming time would be precious, hard, and above all fleeting. And I didn’t want to miss it. I knew, having been there, that most working parents don’t “miss” time with their small children in the sense that oftentimes the time spent together is more high quality than time spent when a shower is the only break you get from your children. As much as some working parents might not care to admit this – particularly if they’ve never been on the other side of things – work actually is rejuvenating. At kerom your kids at least. And I say that as a teacher who works with other people’s kids. Going to work refocuses me on other things, makes it feel like a long absence has occurred, and refreshes me to all my children’s wonderful charms. Having a job with long summer and holiday breaks offers an interesting taste of both the experiences of a working and stay at home parent, at least as I perceived them. While the charms of your children are less likely to stay quite so charming when you have to take them alongside incessant doses of the not-so-charming stuff (tantrums, whining, poop), you do just learn each other better and jell. With the luxury of time, you can better figure each other out. You better understand your 2 year-old’s strange words. You can better predict outcomes or troubleshoot big emotions. You get a better flow with each other. With a second coming, I wanted that all the time. The problem was we weren’t sure we could swing it financially.
Side rant: this is why I can’t stand judgment about parent’s choices about whether to or who should stay home with children or work, and for how long. Personally, it almost always comes from the older generation, and in fairness maybe comes from a sense of nostalgia of the time their own children were young. I look forward to the days I’ve forgotten all about the whining and the tantrums and the bills too. The decision about how to support a family is personal and each one is unique, and the only opinions that matter are those who are affected by the decision.
In our case, two incomes does not afford a lifestyle of abundance, but a simple life that we love in the place where our friends, family, and community live, and that also happens to have the highest cost of living in the country. Deciding to stay home to care for my children is just not that simple. But, like I said, there was a silent pull and the more I thought about it, the more the silent pull got less silent. Crunching the numbers, with one income down, we’d need to live like monks PLUS figure out a few side hustles. So I took a deep breath, trusted the universe and myself and my husband, (the silent pull never leads you astray!), shut my eyes, gulped, and quit my job. A job that I really loved, by the way.
Long story short, the universe provided. I was offered a teach-from-home-online position from my employer, and after one rewarding school year juggling online students and enjoying the time with a baby and toddler, it was renewed for another year.