Work-Life Balance and Motherhood
Summer 2016 — I found myself at the cusp of making a life-altering decision. Should I take a step back from my teaching career or should I keep marching onwards? Should I take this year off? Should I take that time off that I always dreamt of taking? Should I sacrifice a year of providing the second (and minimal) income for my family? So many ifs, but no guarantees. What if I intend on taking only a year off and it turns into ten years off? What if I fail at staying home and running this already busy house-hold? Again, so many ifs and no answers. I needed that magic 8 ball more than ever!
So I took the plunge. In early August, I firmly announced that I have finally made the decision to stay home — to take care of the house, kids, and myself. “Finally…this will be awesome for you and all of us,” my husband replied. Of course, I knew that we would have to knock a few things off of our list of expenses…cleaning services, take-out nights, and of course my own spending (yikes). Running on one income wouldn’t be easy at all, but it’s now or almost never. My kids are young and it would be nice to just be around. I had that notion that you only live once…so why not?
Staying at home meant I could finally fulfill the one thing I always wondered…how does it feel dropping the kids off at school and brunching with my friends, running errands, working out, and even tidying up the house in peace? Throughout my 10 years in the workforce, I always wondered how it felt to just be at home. To have my OWN time to do my OWN things. Things that no one would even know about! I was giving myself a year and I needed to make it count!
So I fulfilled my wonder…I stayed home. I was that mom — I volunteered at school and made sure breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner were all mostly home-made and prepared with ease. I made sure that permission slips were signed on time and activities were scheduled. I made sure that homework was done and both kids were content at drop-off and pick-up. I was a homemaker…probably not the best, but I tried. I worked hard to keep up with the daily chores while juggling sick kids, doctor appointments, and opposite schedules. Did I always succeed? NO! But really, it was on my clock. No one was the boss of me…and that felt amazing.
So then comes May and a possible teaching position is presented to me. Do I go for it or do I stay home for another year? What if I stay at home and regret not even trying for it? Well you only live once, right? Why not? After all — this was the job of my dreams. I went to graduate school knowing I wanted to be as innovative in my teaching methods as possible and this private institution allowed for that. After a few weeks of complete uncertainty, I got the call — I got the offer! My first reaction was disbelief…did I just accomplish this huge life-long goal of mine? WOW.
Then of course, came the mourning period — flashbacks of my year off would pop up out of the blue. The times I was easily able to stay home with a sick child. The times I was able to single-handedly run the household while my husband was out of town. The times I was the boss of me and no one to really answer to! Were these flashbacks strong enough to keep me back from fulfilling my dream of accepting this teaching position? NO. In fact, I look back and realize that while it was a great break, I was always secretly yearning to get back into the classroom. I missed the teaching world. I have this opportunity and the time is NOW.
So now comes the balance. How do I maintain the juggling act of keeping up with all the duties I enjoyed fulfilling when I was home all while achieving my career goals? With every step forward, I would have to let go of some of them. It’s all about trying to attain that balance and learning from what works and what doesn’t. We will be entering a new set of routines — early morning lunch preps (for the kids AND me), school drop offs and pickups, after-school activities, homework, dinner along with my own work now — all while trying squeezing in some ME time.
All I can do now is to hope for the best and keep the momentum up. I’m in my late thirties and finally achieved my lifelong career goal. I spent the last year setting up the foundation and routines of running this household somewhat efficiently…now I just need to keep it up. Now is the time to make it all count and all I can do is to take it one day at a time. I have to keep in mind that you only live once.
Here’s to keeping it real,
Your Brainy Chick,