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#31 of 55 Old 09-22-2011, 12:01 PM
 
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I completely agree that it is really important to get your gender roll issues in check before making this decision. DH and I had a big conversation about that before I chose to SAH and we still question our activities, expectations, and obligations towards one another. I feel like its really important to have an open dialouge about your job, and what the expectations are. If DH left his plate on the table, I would ask him "Are you leaving this here for me to clean up because you think it's my job or because Im the woman?" Maybe not everytime, but I would point it out for sure.

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#32 of 55 Old 09-22-2011, 01:17 PM
 
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Originally Posted by PennyRoo View Post

I think the one caveat I would throw out there in the whole to SAHM or not to SAHM question, is the big downside in the gendered nature of the division of labor that can occur if you SAHM.  I know I am not alone in this - I have many, many friends who have the same experience of things having been equal until after the arrival of the kids.  



I agree that it can be really easy to fall into traditional gender roles as you described, if you're not careful. My husband grew up in a very traditional Latin American family with super conservative ideas about what a woman's role is. I've found that I have to be very clear with him about my intentions behind SAH and my expectations of him as an active partner/father, or else I can end up feeling really resentful, overwhelmed, and under-appreciated. It's definitely a challenge sometimes!


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#33 of 55 Old 09-22-2011, 01:45 PM
 
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I would agree with the above posters who've mentioned how important your spouse's support is in the decision to be a SAHM.  For Dh and I, having a SAH-parent was a non-negotiable.  It made more sense at first because I was the one giving birth/Bfing... we then moved into a situation where we were both working part-time and sharing DD1's care  (which was totally awesome and ideal, and probably an option that most people will never have -- too bad!)

 

Even though Dh grew up in a household with very traditional gender-roles/division of labor, he is 100% amazing at doing his share of the housework (or more!).  It helps that he is a "neat-nick" and I am the "messy one" in our relationship, he is more motivated to clean since it bothers him when the house is messy. LOL  I still do more parenting, but that is because I am the one who is more actively thinking about discipline, learning, etc -- I do view those things as primarily "my job".  Doesn't mean that Dh is hands-off as a parent, just that he follows my lead.

 

I would also say that I have really grown to enjoy my role as a SAHM more as the years go by.  Honestly, despite being rather domestically-inclined, I was really unprepared to run a household, it didn't occur to me for a long time what I needed to do to make things work smoothly, reduce my stress level and feel a sense of accomplishment.  I felt for quite awhile that all my years of education were a waste because they had actually prepared me to work outside the home, but what I desperately needed was training for being a housewife.  It does actually take some skill and learning to do the job well!


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#34 of 55 Old 09-23-2011, 01:09 PM
 
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I agree that all paths have their hard parts--parenting is tough! Currently, I work about 20 hours/week.  I feel really lucky that I'm self-employed (I'm a therapist) and can set my own hours and that DH has flexible work to be home when I am not.  DD is 4 and I've worked anywhere between 0 and 25 hours/week during her life.  For me, the sweet spot is about 15-20 hours/week.  In addition, I am happiest when she's in preschool or another activity for 3 or 4 hours/day so I can do some of my work and also take care of my own needs--go to the gym, get a haircut, catch up on errands, whatever.  Summer did not go well here---I was home with her almost all the time and I found my sanity slipping. Now that she's back in school for the mornings, I find myself enjoying the afternoons I have with her much more. Best of luck in finding the balance that works for you!


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#35 of 55 Old 09-23-2011, 10:07 PM
 
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I've never understood why anyone would want to have children, but not want to actually raise them.  I always knew from the first moment that I got pregnant that I would raise my own children.  I even managed to do it when I was young, single and had zero help from my DS's father.  I wouldn't have it any other way, period.  I love being a mom, it's what I've always wanted to do first.  I suspect that in my later years I will return to college and pursue a passion, but for now this is my passion.

 

Yes, being a sahm parent is hard.  Now, can you imagine paying someone less than min. wage to do that very hard job for you?  I have friends that nanny and get paid roughly $3 a hour.  Also, it's not just about YOUR needs, it's about the needs of your baby.  To me, love and attonement are just as important as the need for food, water and clean clothes.  To see children spending 50+ hours a week with a care provider that doesn't love them is heart-breaking to me.  I worked for several years as a care provider (and have several friends who are nannies) and that time just further cemented my belief that children should be raised by a loving parent.

 

My DH and I had a good understanding of what our roles would be when we got married.  I already had one child, so I knew that I needed to have things sorted out BEFORE we even moved in together.  For us, the traditional female/male gender roles work very well.  I'm happy to do all of the house-work stuff while he earns an income.  He's a very productive person, gets a ton of stuff done, but does almost zero household chores (kitchen, cleaning, laundry, etc).  Our whole arrangement is perfect for us.  It is very important to figure these things out in advance.  I think most people tend to overlook this sort of thing until it's caused an argument.

 

 

You can always go back to work, but you can only raise your baby once.  Best wishes in your decision. 


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#36 of 55 Old 09-24-2011, 07:01 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Abraisme View Post

I've never understood why anyone would want to have children, but not want to actually raise them.  I always knew from the first moment that I got pregnant that I would raise my own children.



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#37 of 55 Old 09-24-2011, 07:21 AM
 
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I've never understood why anyone would want to have children, but not want to actually raise them. 


So I cease to raise my son when he starts full time school next year?  Man that mothering thing was short lived.  

 


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#38 of 55 Old 09-24-2011, 08:02 AM
 
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I giggled, over not wanting to raise them.  Also someone else mentioned fighting over who had to stay home with a sick kid.  If DH and I were at work (military same compound)  and I got the call for the Daycare provider it was a fight to the car!  We would so fight over who got to go get them and stay home.  We started being sneaky and telling our Daycare provider only to call me or him.  He was worse, I remember calling him once to say I was going to get them and that he didn't need to worry about picking them up that afternoon I had already cleared my schedule... somehow he made it there first.  Not sure how he did it, but as I pulled in he was pulling out with a smug look on his face.  GOOBER! 

 

 

Sometimes you can have the best of both worlds.  I realize it's rare, but it can be done.  My schedule has us split parenting.  The days I work it's all him, the days I'm off it's all me.  We both love it this way.  Both of us are very protective of our time.  And we feel so lucky.  We didn't feel like we gave up anything for this.  And if we did, it wasn't that important anyway. 

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#39 of 55 Old 09-25-2011, 10:21 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Abraisme View Post

I've never understood why anyone would want to have children, but not want to actually raise them.


So...all the loving fathers who support their families by working outside the home - not only don't they raise their kids (or want to), but you don't understand why they wanted children in the first place?

Or did you only mean to bash wohms by your statement? A dad with a paycheck is off your hook of judgment?
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#40 of 55 Old 09-25-2011, 10:50 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abraisme View Post

I've never understood why anyone would want to have children, but not want to actually raise them.  I always knew from the first moment that I got pregnant that I would raise my own children.  I even managed to do it when I was young, single and had zero help from my DS's father.  I wouldn't have it any other way, period.  I love being a mom, it's what I've always wanted to do first.  I suspect that in my later years I will return to college and pursue a passion, but for now this is my passion.

 

Yes, being a sahm parent is hard.  Now, can you imagine paying someone less than min. wage to do that very hard job for you?  I have friends that nanny and get paid roughly $3 a hour.  Also, it's not just about YOUR needs, it's about the needs of your baby.  To me, love and attonement are just as important as the need for food, water and clean clothes.  To see children spending 50+ hours a week with a care provider that doesn't love them is heart-breaking to me.  I worked for several years as a care provider (and have several friends who are nannies) and that time just further cemented my belief that children should be raised by a loving parent.

 

My DH and I had a good understanding of what our roles would be when we got married.  I already had one child, so I knew that I needed to have things sorted out BEFORE we even moved in together.  For us, the traditional female/male gender roles work very well.  I'm happy to do all of the house-work stuff while he earns an income.  He's a very productive person, gets a ton of stuff done, but does almost zero household chores (kitchen, cleaning, laundry, etc).  Our whole arrangement is perfect for us.  It is very important to figure these things out in advance.  I think most people tend to overlook this sort of thing until it's caused an argument.

 

 

You can always go back to work, but you can only raise your baby once.  Best wishes in your decision. 


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#41 of 55 Old 09-25-2011, 10:54 AM
 
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#42 of 55 Old 09-25-2011, 11:05 AM
 
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I've never understood why anyone would want to have children, but not want to actually raise them.  I always knew from the first moment that I got pregnant that I would raise my own children.  I even managed to do it when I was young, single and had zero help from my DS's father.  I wouldn't have it any other way, period.  I love being a mom, it's what I've always wanted to do first.  I suspect that in my later years I will return to college and pursue a passion, but for now this is my passion.

 

Yes, being a sahm parent is hard.  Now, can you imagine paying someone less than min. wage to do that very hard job for you?  I have friends that nanny and get paid roughly $3 a hour.  Also, it's not just about YOUR needs, it's about the needs of your baby.  To me, love and attonement are just as important as the need for food, water and clean clothes.  To see children spending 50+ hours a week with a care provider that doesn't love them is heart-breaking to me.  I worked for several years as a care provider (and have several friends who are nannies) and that time just further cemented my belief that children should be raised by a loving parent.

 

My DH and I had a good understanding of what our roles would be when we got married.  I already had one child, so I knew that I needed to have things sorted out BEFORE we even moved in together.  For us, the traditional female/male gender roles work very well.  I'm happy to do all of the house-work stuff while he earns an income.  He's a very productive person, gets a ton of stuff done, but does almost zero household chores (kitchen, cleaning, laundry, etc).  Our whole arrangement is perfect for us.  It is very important to figure these things out in advance.  I think most people tend to overlook this sort of thing until it's caused an argument.

 

 

You can always go back to work, but you can only raise your baby once.  Best wishes in your decision. 

 

Wow, you love being in a traditional gender role, where you do all the housework and parenting, while your husband earns an income & doesn't lift a finger at home? That is completely incomprehensible to me, but hey it takes all types to make the world go 'round. 

 

The key here is that it sounds like you chose this path and even planned for it. You aren't forced into it. And that's great. Women should figure out for themselves what they want and be able to pursue their dreams. We live in a day and age when women have many choices, including the one you've made. You don't have to look too far to see eras of history or places in the world where this is the only option for women, and that's not a good thing. Women are not all the same, and we're all better off when we are able to make real choices. So, good for you for having a choice and making one that suits you well, but don't assume that it's the only path or the "best" path. There are a lot of good choices out there.

 

It's just foolish nonsense to suggest that women who work outside the home aren't raising their children. Sorry, but you're just wrong about that.


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#43 of 55 Old 09-25-2011, 06:44 PM
 
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Yeah, I was going to say that being a parent isn't all about who carried the crotch fruit.. DH is perfectly capable and happy to be fully immersed into the parenting business and he takes great pride in being a father. He's there for the boo boos and hurt feelings. He enjoys cooking for them and helping them through their day. Just as I do. Did I think I'd be the one to go to work while DH stays home, nope. I wouldn't trade this opportunity for the world. I have two girls who are being raised in a home where the traditional gender roles don't exist. Two girls who are fiercely loved and adored. And it's not just the mama bear giving all.
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#44 of 55 Old 09-26-2011, 06:04 AM
 
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 It seems like part-time might work might be a good solution, but so hard to find.

 

 


I haven't read all the replies yet, will return to do so later, but I too came to the conclusion that part-time work seems like the best solution. You can stay home with your children for most of the time, but also get in some work hours where you can feel you're contributing to something else, have social interaction with adults and it helps keep your confidence and self esteem, without as much pressure as working full time etc.

 


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#45 of 55 Old 12-01-2011, 10:33 PM
 
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What a great thread!

I feel like there is a lot of societal pressure on mothers to "do it all".  I've actually been feeling guilty recently about not going back to work when my mat leave ends next month (my son is 10 months).  Reading this thread has reminded me why I wanted to stay home, and what is really important for my family.

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#46 of 55 Old 12-03-2011, 09:28 AM
 
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Great thread!

 

Rather than seeing myself as home-oriented or career-oriented, I now see myself as life and people-oriented. I think about which choices can keep me and those closest to me the most connected to the life that we all are and that we are all a part of, as well as the choices that can foster the best connections for people in general.

 

I loved spending the first ten years of my mothering career as a full time stay-at-home mom, and I now love being a work-at-home mom. Now, in my ideal world, I would only need to work about 20 hours to support my family, whereas, in reality, I currently need to work around 35 hours (my job is classed as part-time permanent, which means I can't work more than about 37 hours per week), but I genuinely do love the work I do, giving telephone English lessons to business people in other countries.

 

This is definitely the best way to help my loved ones experience life, because if I weren't working, we'd lose our home, vehicle, pets...it just wouldn't be fun, especially since it's not necessary.


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#47 of 55 Old 12-23-2011, 05:48 AM
 
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CrunchyMama19, you could have been me.  My youngest was two when my research department was dissolved (and we were basically put out of the door).  It was the best thing they did for me since they hired me.  It was as if I just started to get to know my youngest.  A few years after that, both my children told me how glad they were that I no longer had what they called my "evening temper" (you know, they way night owls have a morning temper).  Life is easier this way.  Do I miss the research? Oh yes.  I loved the labrat life.  But I found that as long as I'm learning I'm happy.  I did independent consulting for a while.  I remodeled half the house, mostly by myself (LEARN!), and now I've started a blog on fuel efficient cars that is a lot about physics.  Something I can do while my employers are either at school or asleep.  And I love being able to connect with other moms at school, which is so different from the lonely labrat life, and very lovely.

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#48 of 55 Old 12-26-2011, 01:18 PM
 
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  It is impossible to describe the stress involved when a child is sick and you and your DH are having a fight at 5 in the morning over who has to be the one to stay home, when all your heart wants to do is take care of your sick child but there are pressing work obligations.  For years I juggled the craziness of trying to be there for every play, and every school concert, and leaving the office at noon to race home and retrieve a homemade ice cream cake from the freezer to bring into DD's school on her birthday, and then race back to the office.  Running out to grocery shop at 9:30 at night after the kids are asleep (with DH home, o' course).  Cleaning my house at 10:30 PM and making lunches at 11 PM for the next day.  Extracting myself from my DD's arms as she cried "don't leave me!" to go to work.  Thinking about my kids all day at work.  Dreading the occasional business trip.  Having weekend and evening commitments so that I missed out on soccer games, bedtimes, and so on.  Coming home and needing to focus on your kids, but simultaneously needing to put dinner on the table.  Oftentimes working late at night after everything is clean and kids are in bed, to make up for all the work left undone when I raced out of the office at 5 PM.  I just found it really, really difficult and painful. 



This.  All of this and this is exactly how I am feeling.  I am just not eloquent enough to express it in my own words.  I am a dentist.  I only work 2 days a week but also do accounting for my husbands practice on the days I am home.  I get a month off in the summer.  On paper I have the perfect situation.  But I still feel all of what PennyRoo wrote above.  Add to those feelings the fact that we don't need my income, one of the guys I work for is a jerk of the highest order and I could be doing so much more for my husband's business if I just had the time...so here I am agonizing over leaving my career.  I know what I truly want but I am afraid I will miss being a dentist.  I like being a dentist.  But my heart just isn't in it.  Sigh.  I just can't bring myself to pull the trigger and envy those who have the guts that I lack.

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#49 of 55 Old 04-20-2012, 10:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm reviving this thread because the thoughtful responses were just so helpful for me! I am now 7 months into my job, and at a point of re-evaluation! Re-reading these replies has renewed my interest in pursuing some kind of alternative to the grind. Thanks again to all the posters! (and thanks for NOT turning it into a post to make judgements about women's choices, for the most part)


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#50 of 55 Old 04-20-2012, 12:55 PM
 
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With consulting, would you have an option of working part time and also of working from home?


Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#51 of 55 Old 04-17-2013, 12:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am once again revisiting this thread. It has tracked my time since finishing school and my search for the right answer to the career vs. (or is it "and") family question.

 

For those still around, where are you now?

 

As for me, I decided in August 2012, after finding out I was expecting my third child, to quit, because I felt I was working twice the hours I wanted for half the pay I deserved. I didn't feel I could go in and negotiate on both of those issues, but I had thought through very clearly what I wanted -- 20 hrs per week at twice the current rate (I previously worked in industry, which paid much more than my postdoc, and had been earning twice as much before going back for a phd). Somehow, my boss convinced me to stay -- but I was only willing to do it on my terms, the 20 hrs at twice the pay rate. He accepted the terms. Then, we lost the pregnancy at 6 weeks, and now, we have lost another at 17 weeks. I now find myself once again re-evaluating what is right for me. My concentration is very low and I feel the only thing rewarding for me is my kids. I had to go on a trip for work last week, and I was bawling like a preschooler after saying goodbye to my children. When we were reunited, it just felt like the way things were supposed to be. I constantly feel like I just want to quit my job. The 20 hours is an improvement in terms of balance, but I am not concentrating well and am not enjoying my work (and while right now I am distracted by the loss, before I was distracted by the pregnancy, and before that, by TTC). I think we could afford for me to SAH, especially since the amount we have been paying for me to work (childcare, commute, parking, etc.) isn't much less than what I make, and we just refinanced our house to save some money, plus older DC will be in school in the fall. Of course, we would have to make some lifestyle changes, but I think it could be worth it.


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#52 of 55 Old 04-17-2013, 04:02 PM
 
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Hello, I haven't read the entire thread. But have you considered substitute teaching? It has been the perfect fit for us. Totally flexible and you can work as little or as much as you like. I too was searching for a part time post-doc in clinical psychology, and had a hard time finding one. In the meantime, I'm substituting. I can't tell you how much it means to my family to be out of school when my DD is out, and to have a flexible schedule.

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#53 of 55 Old 04-18-2013, 02:29 PM
 
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Hi there,

 

I'm glad you revived the thread! It was really interesting to read and shows that this is a decision that most of us really struggle with. I read most of the responses, though not all.

 

Your situation sounds a little like mine because I was in academia too and am now staying home...and almost the whole time I was working, I would rather have stayed home. I was a professional librarian on tenure track in a university library for 8 years before making the decision to stay home a few months after my third child was born, and I've been at home for just over a year now.  I originally took the job because it was a challenging and interesting job with good pay and great benefits, not because I wanted to be on tenure track....so at times I struggled with the requirements of my job that were unique to tenure (mainly, publishing a certain quantity of articles, regular public speaking and participation in national library committees/going to national library meetings). I wish I just could have done the day-to-day librarian aspect of my job, as that is the part I really loved.

 

Anyway, I was 2 1/2 years in at the time my first child was born, and went back to work after a generous six month paid maternity leave (aforementioned great benefits). I hired a babysitter to come to our house, which was the only childcare arrangement I could get comfortable with. Things went pretty well during this time as I loved our babysitter and still loved my job too, and my son seemed to be thriving. Then 2 1/2 years later I had my second baby and from that point on, I just wanted to quit. My heart was really with my kids. My husband was taking a leave of absence to pursue a non for profit business, so I continued on, but once he found a full time job again I resigned. But my resignation wasn't accepted...I went through some negotiations and ended up taking an unpaid leave of absence til my daughter was about 18 months old. At that time I hired another excellent babysitter who came to our house and was back at work full time, although my heart still wasn't in it. I still somehow felt like this was my identity though, and the job was very flexible and still fun and fulfilling. I loved my co-workers. As time went on though I became less and less motivated to publish and to go to conferences and be away from my children. As a result I felt a lot of guilt that my performance level was lower than it was before I had kids and when I only had one child, and my dedication wasn't the same as most of my peers'. I have always had a strong work ethic and high expectations of myself, so it was just not a positive situation anymore. But I kept on as I was only a little over a year from tenure. Then I found out I was pregnant with baby number three, which could not have been a bigger surprise. And realized that I would be on maternity leave when my tenure case was being decided. How devastating that was, at the time. The worst thing of all is how my pregnancy was treated at work - people (including my boss) made it very clear  that three children was too many, the tipping point. Although ONE seemed to be a tipping point for some in academia. ;) I felt this shame for the entire pregnancy and was very resentful about it. After my third child was born I started planning to leave my job even though it seemed crazy to leave without knowing if I would be granted tenure. But I felt that I couldn't go back after all that had happened. It was also becoming clear to me from conversations with my boss that I would probably not be granted tenure - not because I hadn't published enough articles, but because there were gaps in my publishing record where I had taken leaves. 

 

It was a big deal for me to resign - even after all that had happened, I felt like a failure on some level. I am very goal-oriented and I guess I wanted to get tenure just for the sake of getting tenure - to see it through. I haven't totally resolved my feelings on the matter yet but still feel guilt and this sense of failure. HOWEVER, I have not regretted my decision to leave my job for a single moment. I can say with total confidence that I am the happiest I have ever been in my life. I feel completely fulfilled and exactly where I am supposed to be. I am now homeschooling my oldest, which has been an awesome experience, and our family bonds are by far the strongest they have ever been.

 

I do see myself returning to the profession someday and continuing to have a fulfilling career. Since librarianship isn't exactly a profession where you see much age discrimination ;) I am not that worried about returning to work in my 40s and finding a good job. I do see myself working in a public library rather than an academic library. And without a doubt, I can say that the experience of staying home with my kids and homeschooling will make me a MUCH better librarian than I was before. :)

 

As for the question of being able to afford to stay home, you will find that there are limitless ways to curtail your spending while still living a good life. I am constantly amazed at how much money and resources we used to WASTE when we were both working. Appalling! So if you put your mind to it, you will figure it out and will probably enjoy doing so. There is an art in learning to live well on a budget and it is a challenge that I personally really enjoy.

 

I wish you peace in your decision!
 

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#54 of 55 Old 05-21-2013, 11:13 AM
 
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I quit my well paying, highly satisfying job when my DS was 11 months ( and had just started daycare). He is 3 years now and not a day goes by that I don't think of my friends who kept working and are now well established in their careers. My career does not tolerate gaps in resume well so it's not just about taking a break and resuming. I do still plan to go back and but with every passing day I am becoming more obsolete.

I am NOT at all home oriented, hate house work with a passion. I also fee huge guilt because my parents sacrificed a lot to put me through professional college and though I fiercely believe mothering is VERY VERY important, I do honestly feel I did not need years and years of professional education for it. 

But I am at peace. Along with my daily struggle I also manage to remember that at the end of my life, I will not have the regret that I chose my needs over my child ( in my case, its not for money, so yes it's my need vs family's). 

I am determined to put all my heart and brain in reviving my career in a few years but for now I do clearly see that the first few years matter a lot. A LOT.

 

Wishing you Peace Mama. 


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#55 of 55 Old 07-22-2013, 07:03 AM
 
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It was hard for me the first year or two after dd #1 was born, but since then it has been easier than I think it would be to have kids AND work outside the home. All the stuff at home would still have to be done, and I'm afraid most of that would fall on me as my dh works a ton of hours. I mean having kids is work regardless of whether you are home with them or working AND taking care of their needs. Neither choice is as easy as life before kids.

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