I've found myself very confused lately. A lot of things are happening all at once, all of them are good, and they're all things I want, but I'm still not truly sure how I feel about everything as a whole. If you've read anything I've written, you know that I put a high priority on obtaining a greater level of self-sufficiency. We were on a mission to fix up our home, put it on the market by next spring, and then either build or buy our forever home on 5+ acres of land.
One of the ideas we have toyed with was buying fairly inexpensive land, building our own home from as much salvage as possible, and then quitting work to stay at home with our kid(s). We only have one now, but we wanted one more. I am interested in homeschooling and it's important to me to "free-range" our kids. I want them to grow up playing in the woods, not playgrounds. I want livestock and to garden. I want us to eat humanely raised, home-grown food, and for my kids to participate in that. Because of the high cost of land in our area, building our own home is the only way that we could own acreage and still afford for me to quit my job.
But I like my job. I work with a great group of people, and I find a lot of fulfillment through helping people. I don't kid myself that I'm super-cop or anything, but I DO make a difference in people's lives. Recently, our department began a hiring process for K-9 handlers. Having a working dog is something I've always been interested in. I'm a dog person, and I enjoy training and working with our family dog. I also like patrol work, so having a dog to assist with drug detection and tracking is pretty much everything I ever wanted out of my career. I went through the process, did very well, and am in line to get a K-9 partner next spring (which will be the next dog our department adds). I'd have gotten one sooner, except that...
I found out I'm pregnant.
This wasn't a complete surprise. We weren't doing anything to prevent pregnancy, but we didn't expect it so quickly. But obviously I'm very excited about the new addition to our family, and I can't wait for Ethan to have a little brother or sister.
And I guess what it all boils down to is that my priorities for family and career are conflicting in a way I never imagined they would. If I get a dog, it's an 8 to 10 year commitment to the department. Obviously they can't keep me from quitting if I decide to, but I take that commitment very seriously. I'd be making a deal, and I would make good on it. I'm also in a position to realize one of my dreams. They're willing to work around my pregnancy and maternity leave, which I think is awesome. It's also unusual. This is a chance I may never have again.
But I feel like I'm giving up my dreams for our family. Obviously we can still move to a new home with more property, and we'd be able to afford more property and/or a nicer house (or just more savings and a greater financial cushion) if I was still contributing a paycheck. But the possibility of staying home, farming, and raising children would be taken off the table. I could do some of it, some of the time. I know I could homeschool in the mornings and work in the afternoon. We could still have animals, a garden, and learn to be more self-sufficient. But we'd need to hire a nanny. Our current sitters have a home business and cannot take care of a super-busy toddler and an infant. Having a dog means I wouldn't be able to switch shifts at work. I'd be on afternoons for the foreseeable future. Eating dinner at home every night would not be a reality. Shayne and I would almost certainly stay on separate shifts in order to maximize the amount of time our kids spend with us instead of a caregiver.
I'm not sure if I'm okay with this. But I'm not sure I want to give up my career goals. Right now, it doesn't seem like there's a compromise. I was planning on working another 4 years anyways, because we are vested in the retirement program after 8 years. It seems silly to give up a pension. But before the K-9 position opened up, I had also contemplated switching to first shift so that DH and I could have more family time. DS would spend more time with a caregiver, but DH and I would see each other more. We could have dinner together every night.
I don't know how to figure out what is best for our family. I don't know how to figure out what is best for me! I feel like I would forever regret not realizing my career dream, but I don't want to achieve my personal goals at the expense of my family. I was raised by a single mom, and I know it doesn't damage kids to have a caregiver instead of mom or dad 24 hours per day. But I also never imagined I'd want to give up my job to stay home and raise babies. There are so many ways to look at this equation that it makes my head spin.
I don't know if I'm looking for advice, BTDT stories, or what. But if you've read this entire "book", I'd appreciate hearing from you!
Strong single mama to Ethan (9/09) and Rowyn (7/12)
Well I read your "book" ;) and all I can say is I'm struggling with the same conflicts. Mine aren't as pronounced as yours ~ but it definitely brings me back to the question of how on earth are other women balancing? I'm still struggling my way through but I'm doing so by attempting to separate each decision ~ bc all together they are too overwhelming. I think there are a lot of creative solutions and hopefully one becomes comfortable for you! Good luck.
There are no easy answers. DH and I have had our dreams on the back burner for awhile now. DD knows that we are working hard to provide a stable home but we are not really setting a good example of pursuing your goals or contributing to society through our careers.
Thanks for the replies. I dtill don't have any clear answers to my dilemma... I think it's just going to have to wait til after the new LO gets here. I considered quitting my job after #1, but once I got through pumping at work and established something of a good routine at home, it got a lot better. I also remembered that I really like my job. I definitely understand sometimes needing to put things on hold for the good of our family... but I don't want to be a martyr either. I guess I'll just have to play it by ear and see what happens.
Strong single mama to Ethan (9/09) and Rowyn (7/12)
I don't know if I have any advice for you, but I am in a similar situation myself. I currently work at a company that I've been with for 5 years, in an industry and career path that I've been in for 13 years, but doing job that I don't particularly love. I do like the flexibility I have under the supervisor that I work for, but that's about it. I have a master's degree and have always seen myself as a career woman, but my priorities really changed when I had my son. Now I am pregnant with #2, due in August and I would really love to be able to stay home with my kiddos for at least 2-3 years, but that would require lifestyle changes for my family that I'm not sure we are prepared to make (including letting our house go...not really a great idea).
So, every once in a while I think that maybe I should start considering a career change and put my feelers out for openings in other industries. A few months ago I submitted my resume for a lower paying job with our county government that would lead to much better promotion opportunities in the future and excellent retirement benefits. I interviewed yesterday and I really think I have a good chance at getting the job. But taking it would mean that I would boxed into working full time hours with no flexibility, for about 30%-40% less pay than I earn in my current job. I was really thinking about reducing my work hours after this baby comes to have one day off a week with my babies and that would not be an option with this new job.
My husband is really pushing me to accept an offer if one is made, simply for the retirement benefits if nothing else. But I am really conflicted. I'm definitely not happy with my current job, but it would potentially allow me to have more time with my babies and still contribute a nice size paycheck to our household. The new job would be a better starting point for my future career path, but would not allow me any flexibility to spend the time I want with my family and it would be less pay.
These decisions are so very difficult to make and I am very confused. So (((hugs))) to you, mama, as you try to make this decision. I can't give you the answer, but I can commiserate with you through the process.
I don't have little ones at home anymore so my advice is biased, but maybe in your situation I would leap at the dream job, get a great nanny and have your husband try to work the same shifts as you so you can have the same rythym to your days.
Tough decision! Obviously this is something you are going to have think through and decide on your own. But I will give you my thoughts: I always wanted to be a stay at home to a bunch of kids, homeschool, have a place in the country with a giant garden, etc etc. When my marriage ended it was very difficult to accept that all of that wouldn't be happening. But, then I started to think about the new possibilities - I could go back to school! And get a career that I would love! It's a different reality but I am SO excited about it. Now, at the moment I am still home with my son (back to school in September). It has been mostly wonderful to be home with him for so long, but lately, I'm BORED. I can't imagine that I ever wanted to do this long-term. It's just not for me. Not only do I need a career, but I WANT a career.
Anyway, I'm sure you will find the joy in whatever decision you make. I was so happy as a SAHM but now I'm so happy to be going back to school for a career. For me, I couldn't pass up on a dream job. But it is definitely a tough decision! I guess I'm lucky that my decision was made for me :P
Thanks for all the thoughts. I'm definitely leaning towards taking the dream job vs quitting. I've been talking a lot with family and friends, and it's been pointed out to me numerous times that I'm only 28. I have lots of time left for my dreams, and keeping my job doesn't mean I have to totally give up any other dreams I may have. Finances are also a consideration. We could make it on DH's salary, but we'd likely have to refinance the house we're in and stay here. For various reasons, including proximity to a loud bar and a fairly busy road, don't want to stay here much longer. If I keep working, we'll be able to move to a better location much, much sooner.
I'm not too worried about time with our kiddos, but DH and I rarely get to spend any time together. I work 6-on, 3-off, and he works 4-on, 2-off. It seems like someone is always on their days off, but it's not often both of us at the same time. If we got a nanny, though, he could switch shifts at work and we could spend more time together as a family. Right now, when we have babies, it seems more important to have one parent accessible most of the time. As they get older, I think it might be better to spend more time as a family.
I hate not knowing how choices I make now will impact everyone later on. I used to make myself crazy with that when DS was a newborn.
I guess we can all just do the best we can and hope it all works out!
Strong single mama to Ethan (9/09) and Rowyn (7/12)
If I were in your shoes, I'd take the dream job, at least for another 4 years until you are vested in the pension plan. Your kiddos are still very young (heck, one isn't even born yet!), so are you & I assume so is your husband. You have lots of time. Congrats on the new addition to the family, as well as making it to a place in your career you were striving for.
Well, I was in a similar position, and decided to forgo the beloved career and stay home with the kids until they're older. How old are you, may I ask?
Is there time to stay home with the children for a few years, and then get back on track after?
I'm a paramedic, and am now pregnant with our second child. I took 14 months maternity leave with my daughter, and then went back to work two days a week when she was one. I'll take another 14 months with this second child, and will likely go back again to two days a week. I've fallen behind my professional peers in terms of seniority, accolades, pro-d, further education and credentials, and participation in special opportunities and events. And for the most part, I'm okay with that. I sometimes miss the comraderie and the 'brotherhood' of working full time, but it was always a larger dream to be home with my small children.
When I was tossing up my decision, several of the old timers told me their stories of not seeing their kids enough when they were small, and how fast they grew up. I'll never forget, one old flight paramedic, who'd seen it all and done it all and had all the golden accolades and recognition told me, "When you die, I can guarantee you that you are not going to wish that'd you'd spent more time at work." That has always stayed with me.
I'm no spring chicken, either. I'm 36, so if I stay part-time until the youngest is six or so, I'll be well into my forties if I ever go back to full-time. I've forgone the pensionable years and the seniority, but I think it's worth it to be home right now. We also want to homeschool, so I may never go back full time.
I should also mention that I'm also a writer, so I'm still bringing in money with that. However, we did sell our home and move to a co-op housing situation to make me staying home a financial possibility. It's a difficult choice, but the right choice will sit well with you and I'm pretty sure that you'll know it when it hits you.
Best of luck!
Yeah... So much for plans! I had an early ultrasound this week, because I was suddenly terrified I was going to have a miscarriage. And the tech found a healthy baby with a heartbeat. And then she found another one! I'm pregnant with TWINS!
I'm shocked and overwhelmed and excited and disappointed. I thought I was having a rough time planning my future before, but now it feels like everything just went out the window. I have no idea whether I'm going to be able to go back to work, no clue if I'll want to, and I'm not sure what life will look like if I don't. But if we pay a nanny to come in and watch 2 infants and a toddler, I'm pretty sure that will eat one of my paychecks. I could probably make $800-1200/month doing something part-time, work around DH's schedules or on weekends when my MILs could watch the kidlets, and save myself the hassle, ya know? I don't see how I could possibly handle learning how to be a K9 officer with newborn twins. We're already planning for me to take 8 months off work (2 before and 6 after; thankfully my department has a lenient policy on leaves-of-absence), and I don't know if my department is willing to wait on a "maybe" that could very possibly turn into an "I quit."
Ironically, when DH and I first started talking about moving, about 3 years ago, I told both him and my mother that I thought we'd end up living here for a long time. It's definitely our dream to move, but the house/location we are in is right for so many reasons that we never imagined when we bought it. Now my mom is even talking about moving our our way. Who knows?
Strong single mama to Ethan (9/09) and Rowyn (7/12)
That is quite the update!