SAHP v. WOHP- is it a choice? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 25 Old 09-29-2013, 01:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok, got everyone's attention... smile.gif

I'm just curious, most of the moms I've met IRL seem to either work or stay home due to circumstance rather than choice. I'm wondering how many had a choice v. not.

Not sure if everyone falls into one of these categories, but probably most do:

(1.) Totally my choice, finances not an issue, followed my heart on whether or not to work or for how long.

(2.) No choice, circumstances/finances dictated I must work.

(3.) No choice, circumstances/finances dictated I must stay home.

(4.) Made a difficult choice/lifestyle sacrafices to be where I'm at.

(5.) Found another flexible solution- WAH, work part-time, work off hours.


I fall into categories 2 and 5. I have a really hard time with discussions about choice when I feel like I had very little choice with regard to this particular issue. I know quite a few moms who would like to work more or less hours, or none at all, but can't due to their particular circumstance. Curious to see where other parents fall. No debates or judgement though, we're all trying to do the best we can for our kids! smile.gif


" rel="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/familybed2.gif">familybed2.gif  DD1 12/05, DD2 12/08


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#2 of 25 Old 09-29-2013, 01:38 PM
 
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Honestly many working mom's I know do enjoy their career and would work even if it weren't necessarily. However, I think a lot of those parents started in a place where it was a financial necessity and figured if they had to work anyway they might as well find something they love doing. I've had conversations with a lot of working women and most say that if they had the money to not work, they'd still work, but a heck of a lot less than they do.

For us we could survive on either a full time lower paying job for me, or a part time better paying job. My husbands salary alone would not pay for the necessities of life. The better paying job that I found I loved, doesn't have part time options. So I worked full time, and we enjoy a slightly higher standard of living than we would if I worked in a job I hated. I think this is a choice that is tough for some others to understand. We would have starved if I didn't work, but because I choose a relatively lucrative career we have plenty of extra when I do work. That doesn't mean that just because we spend a lot of my salary on activities and other things that we don't need my salary at all, or that staying home full time would be a viable option that still made it possible to feed, clothe, and home my family.

 

Currently I'm taking some time off of work and back in college to change careers to one that will let me spend more time with my family (teaching). I'm loving being a stay at home mom right now. But student loan money, severance I got when my job ended, and unemployment is the only thing making that possible. The only reason this year is even a option at all is because my husbands salary has dramatically increased in the past 2 years. Even with those sources of income I have to juggle like crazy to make the budget work each month and our saving is rapidly disappearing. 

 

I will admit that, now that my husbands income has increased a lot, I probably could stay home if we cut out pretty much all extras such as the kids sports and activities, sold our house and moved to a cheaper rental, ect. But at this point I'm happy working and it's not worth the sacrifices to me. This was not the situation most of my children's life while my husband and I have both had to work just to make sure week keep food on the table.

 

So I guess we are currently a 1 or 4. But up until the last year we were firmly 2s.


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#3 of 25 Old 09-29-2013, 03:38 PM
 
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Our baby was born in a situation where we had no real choice- both full time parents, and we're damn well going to graduate after all the work we've put into it- but we have the flexibility that LO has never had to be in day care and won't until well over a year old.

 

My partner wants to be a S/WAHP, my dream job works well for WAHP. Hopefully we'll be able to work it out so at least my partner can be a S/WAHP. We'll see what happens.


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#4 of 25 Old 09-29-2013, 04:23 PM
 
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I'm in category one.

I planned to work but I lost my first baby... he was stillborn. I was finishing college with my next baby. When the second live baby came along, the cost of putting two kids in full time daycare was going to eat up too much of my salary. So, I stayed home and as it turned out.. my dd was diagnosed with a chronic illness that she has struggled with her whole childhood. Working her many doctor's visits and physical therapy around a full time job while also having another child to care for was just too much to consider. Being there for my kids and volunteering in the schools and the community was a gift. I am very grateful to the universe for that time. I'm fortunate that my hubby, a programmer makes scads of money. I have recently returned to work... my youngest is a senior in high school and my meager income as a preschool teacher is paying dd's college tuition.
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#5 of 25 Old 09-29-2013, 04:32 PM
 
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Is it wrong if I choose 1, 4, and 5? smile.gif

I do technically work, but only one 4.5-hour shift a week, and baby comes along. Frankly, the financial impact of my work on our budget is small (I bring in about $100/month), and I don't really work for financial reasons. So that's where 5 comes in.

I don't really know if I should pick one or four, though. We have always been a one-income family, even before our son, other than during the summer. I worked while my husband was in school, then quit working when he graduated and got a job requiring a lot of travel so I could go with him. Baby came along about a year later, and I've been home with him. We live very comfortably on my husband's salary. We lived very comfortably on my salary, too. (Which was $20,000 less, though we had summer money to help.) I mean, we were/are comfortable with the way we live, not that it would meet other people's definition of comfortable.

But I can also say I've sacrificed things to stay at home. Quitting my job ended up feeling like far more of a personal sacrifice than I expected. We don't own a home (yet), we drive old cars, we wear old clothes, and don't have expensive hobbies. Certainly we could have a lot more money/possessions/fun experiences if we both worked, and it's sometimes hard to see others having things I want, but can't afford. For both my dh and I, though, having me stay home was priority #1, and we were committed to making the finances work, no matter what.

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#6 of 25 Old 09-29-2013, 05:15 PM
 
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Finances have always been an issue for us, I mean, aren't they for most families?

And I will say our choice to keep me at home these past 11 years has contributed to financial hardship.

That said, we made our choice for reasons that had nothing to do with money. I guess we'd fall into category 1, but finances are a real issue. We've just made do over the years, I guess. We've had really hard times but aren't so bad off recently.

Hi, I'm Tabitha. I'm a homeschooling mother of four: ds (11) dd (9) ds (7) ds (5) And I'm expecting a fifth in 2014! Find me at http://www.omelay.blogspot.com
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#7 of 25 Old 09-29-2013, 05:32 PM
 
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(1.) Totally my choice, finances not an issue, followed my heart on whether or not to work or for how long.

 

I quit working when we got married and it was OUR choice (I think that should be in the options, not just "MY" since this is a joint decision for most couples).  Dh's income was more than sufficient for us to do so.  We chose to start a family, immediately (I was 37), so working was an easy option to give-up and I never missed it.  The extra income was never needed.

 

Dh retired in January 2013 and, between pension and investments, I'll never have to work, nor will dh.

 

We are very fortunate.

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#8 of 25 Old 09-29-2013, 07:25 PM
 
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Uh, sort of 1, 3, and 4.

Staying at home was my secret dream, which I'd been raised to believe was impossible. Nobody does that anymore, I needed a career, I needed to finish college so I could support myself, etc. When I went on maternity leave with my first, and DH asked if I was planning to go back to work or stay home -- like it was no big deal, and he was hoping I wanted to stay home! -- I was shocked. I said something like, "I can do that? Really?" And never looked back.

I suppose it was also a sacrifice, losing between 1/3 to 1/2 of our income with pretty much no plan for how we were going to manage that. (And we had three kids at the time, and were barely making it already. We didn't even own a car.) But it never felt like a sacrifice, because I hated working and I loved staying home. Since then, it has become a necessity for me to stay home, since there is no way I could ever make enough money even to cover the costs of me working (like childcare).

Still, I'd say it was completely our choice, something we did because that's how we wanted to live, and we didn't even consider the finances. We just stepped out in faith and made it work. Eleven years later, it still works just fine.

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#9 of 25 Old 09-30-2013, 12:01 AM
 
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On further reflection, 3 sort of applied, too. My son was unable to take a bottle until he was 6 months old, so I couldn't have left him to go to work even if I had wanted to. It's kind of amazing that I managed to forget something that was an all-consuming problem for me less than a year ago!

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#10 of 25 Old 09-30-2013, 04:57 AM
 
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Im a combination of 4 and 5 except that I wouldn't say we made huge sacrifices or difficult decisions. It was a pretty easy decision for us that I would SAH while the girls were little. We have made some lifestyle changes to accommodate that but we don't feel like we've made huge sacrifices.

When I went back to work when DD1 was about 20 months I did 1-2 shifts/week and DH and/or my parents looked after her. God willing, we will do the same next year when DD2 is old enough.

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#11 of 25 Old 09-30-2013, 05:51 AM
 
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We're somewhere between 1 and 2, and a firm 5

 

I think we could technically get by on dh's income, but the sacrifices that we would have to make would make us all miserable, so I work.  I like the added security that comes from both of us having jobs, too.  Dh and I work opposite days, though, so it kind of feels like we're doing the SAHP thing, too.

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#12 of 25 Old 09-30-2013, 06:18 AM
 
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Ugh, i go back to work in 1 week when dd is 16 weeks old because i HAVE to. Im dreading it, but dhs salary only covers our mortgage payment. Im truly annoyed with the scores of people who have said to me that if we really wanted to, we could "make it work." Ummm...no. if i dont work we have no food, no heat, no electric, etc. Im jealous of all the stay at home mommies greensad.gif
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#13 of 25 Old 09-30-2013, 07:55 AM
 
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I would have to go back in time about 8 years and make different decisions in order for SAH to be a viable option. I would have had to: 1. not go back to school, which raised my earning power but also saddled me with a ton of loans, and 2. marry somebody more frugal than my DH (or who made more, or both). I could SAH on his income but it would be incredibly tight, and the required level of belt-tightening is more than he's willing to do. Plus we wouldn't be able to pay on our loans at all. They would be in perma-forbearance. If we had a situation where I HAD to stay home for some reason, we could do it, but it would be a real problem long-term. Alternately, I could work and he could SAH, which would financially be a piece of cake as my earning power is a lot higher than his, but he really adores his job and while I like mine okay I am not as enamored of it. 

 

Fortunately, as it turned out, I don't want to SAH anyway. Being in the house all day every day with a kid turns out to not be my thing. I enjoy work because it gives me a break from my kid, and vice versa. I am lucky enough to be able to make a substantial income and work just part-time. 

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#14 of 25 Old 09-30-2013, 10:22 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JollyGG View Post
 

For us we could survive on either a full time lower paying job for me, or a part time better paying job. My husbands salary alone would not pay for the necessities of life. The better paying job that I found I loved, doesn't have part time options. So I worked full time, and we enjoy a slightly higher standard of living than we would if I worked in a job I hated. I think this is a choice that is tough for some others to understand. We would have starved if I didn't work, but because I choose a relatively lucrative career we have plenty of extra when I do work. That doesn't mean that just because we spend a lot of my salary on activities and other things that we don't need my salary at all, or that staying home full time would be a viable option that still made it possible to feed, clothe, and home my family.

 

Thanks for adding your perspective. I admit, I've been guilty of judging people who say they "have" to work - thinking, wow, you have/do tons of stuff we cannot afford because I stay home. It makes sense that maybe you can't make ends meet with just one partner working, but it's possible you could end up with a decent amount of extra money if you both work.

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#15 of 25 Old 09-30-2013, 11:27 AM
 
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It seems the stereotype is that financial reasons are valid, while other reasons are less valid. I would like to point out that whether you love or hate your job has a HUGE effect on your family. A job can make you a very happy or unhappy person, which affects all those around you, including your kids. I had a job I loved, and we definitely could have lived on DHs income alone, but I chose to work. I had a job I hated, and the stress factor was not worth the money. Then I became ill, and now I can not work more than about 12 hours a week. If a job I loved came along again and I really wanted it, I would not be able to do it, due to illness. People assume all sorts of craziness about others. But really, no one outside your immediate family can know what is reasonable or realistic for your family. 

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#16 of 25 Old 09-30-2013, 11:37 AM
 
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I would fall under 2.  We got pregnant right before I graduated, so we have a lot of student debt.  We also have a mortgage for our farm, that is not too horrible but forces me to work.  We are able to save a lot of money right now and put most of it towards our debt.  Once we get our debt lower and have more children, we are hoping I can stay home with them.


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#17 of 25 Old 09-30-2013, 07:32 PM
 
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Originally Posted by AllisonR View Post
 

It seems the stereotype is that financial reasons are valid, while other reasons are less valid. I would like to point out that whether you love or hate your job has a HUGE effect on your family. A job can make you a very happy or unhappy person, which affects all those around you, including your kids. I had a job I loved, and we definitely could have lived on DHs income alone, but I chose to work. I had a job I hated, and the stress factor was not worth the money. Then I became ill, and now I can not work more than about 12 hours a week. If a job I loved came along again and I really wanted it, I would not be able to do it, due to illness. People assume all sorts of craziness about others. But really, no one outside your immediate family can know what is reasonable or realistic for your family. 

 

This is true... and also, I think that for a lot of people it is a mix of both financial and other reasons. I think a lot of working moms (not all, but a good percentage surely) work to raise their family's standard of living from "scraping by" to "comfortable" and also because they find their jobs add happiness to their lives, and it can't be boiled down to only one of the two reasons. 

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#18 of 25 Old 09-30-2013, 09:04 PM
 
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I guess we fit into category 1, 3 and 4 but are mostly in category 1 now.

 

When we were TTC we planned to both continue working after having children.  We couldn't imagine cutting our income in half especially since my half was the stable income and his varied.  By the 8th IVF try and with my job involving a lot of stress, long commute, long hours and a pending merge I decided to quit working the week prior to our last embryo transfer.  We thought I would go back eventually, but a difficult pregnancy, months on bed rest and in the hospital, twins with NICU stays and ongoing health issues, needed therapies, etc. meant I never went back.

 

I have been home ten years.  At this point it is a choice.  I could go back to work (although I am not marketable and could not get the same jobs I used to have) but I do not want to go back to work.  For us the negatives of my working outweigh the positives of the additional income.  (For me, the only positive w/b the income.  After college, I worked 18 years in my field and have no desire to go back.)   This summer I started a very PT work at home job and I sort of regret taking the job.  Sometimes my husband suggests I go back to work because the additional money would be nice.  But then something happens that reminds us why it is good that I am home.

 

 

edited to add:  I reread #4 and although we haven't had to make huge sacrifices to our lifestyle, I felt #4 fit our situation.  Our retirement funds, the kids' college funds, etc are not what they c/h/b if I would have worked.  Also, by staying home I have allowed myself to be in a vulnerable position financially if something happens to my husband or if we divorce.

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#19 of 25 Old 09-30-2013, 09:19 PM
 
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I think we're pretty much a 3.  Well, it FELT like that at the time the decision was made, anyway.  I imagine I could earn some income above the extra expenses of working (childcare, appropriate clothing, gas, etc.), but it wouldn't be much due to where I'm at on my career path (um, not anywhere...), and the odds of a fulfilling job are slim to none.  Babe came along at a pretty awkward time for me, just out of grad school with NO work experience in my field, and entry level positions very hard to come by - and often residential or involving lots of camping.  We moved quite a long way for me to get an entry level job while I was pregnant, but realized a few months in that we weren't going to be able to afford it on my "salary," so we had to move all the way back up to stay with my folks and were BOTH unemployed until just after baby was born.  Then once she was born, she was so high needs that I wasn't able to think about anything again, LOL.  I've been thinking about it now, though.  I'm really missing having a career. 

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#20 of 25 Old 10-01-2013, 10:27 AM
 
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I think everyone has a choice. I know one family in which neither parent works. The mother does get some disability, and at least at one point she/they were selling Avon, and this may still be the case (which I do realize is work -- by not working, I mean neither has a job with a somewhat reliable income), but it doesn't seem to go very far. In the few years that we've known them, they've had to move around a lot, staying with different friends or family members, once in a homeless shelter, and sometimes relatives were willing to take in the kids but not the parents, so the parents lived either in their car or in a tent and visited their kids.

 

I really don't see losing our home and having to stay in a homeless shelter or possibly be separated from our kids as a viable option, since I DO have the option of being able to work and bring in an income. This is choice I gladly make, and it's also a fun choice as I love my job.

 

I have a problem with the idea of having "no choices" in our lives. That simply isn't true. We always have choices; for some of us, the other options just aren't tolerable so long as we're able to bring in some money.

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#21 of 25 Old 10-04-2013, 09:31 AM
 
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1, 3 and 5. :wink I guess I made a choice to be a SAHM with DD1. I planned on working part time but she was such an intense child/baby as in never stopped screaming that DH who was supposed to care for her on weekends while I worked, said that he absolutely could not safely care for her. She was so difficult that he was afraid of what would happen with him alone for 14+ hours straight.

 

As the years went by and the children came. It moved to where I didn't have any choice. DD2 had health issues and me being an RN was basically what allowed us to manage her at home often. As she got older and was no longer so dependent on medication and equipment, I did start with #5. That lasted a few years but DS1 has ASD among other conditions and it wasn't feasible for me to work anymore. Over the years, DH's work load has increased so much that he is always on call 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. he has to be able to go at a moment's notice at any given time. Childcare has been absolute nightmare because of this. I can schedule a meeting with DS1's social worker for 6pm only to return home to find DH gone into work yet again and the neighbor 13 year old girl watching my kids until I get home. This happens way too often. He leaves in the middle of the night, weekends, etc... We can't ever count on him ever actually coming home or picking up kids from school, daycare, anything. If I were to work these days it would require a full time, live in nanny. So instead I am a SAHM again. 


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#22 of 25 Old 10-04-2013, 06:19 PM
 
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I fall into two and four. As a single mom I have to work, I have a degree in teaching but haven't been able to find a teaching job in an elementary school and have had to work in childcare instead. I was lucky enough to get a nine month contract last year and make a lot of sacrifices to be able to make this work so I can be with DD as much as possible. I feel like this has become a bigger priority as she has aged and needs me in different and more intense ways than before.
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#23 of 25 Old 10-05-2013, 07:25 PM
 
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We are a 1 with a small side of 2.  Right now, things would be super tight; there'd be nothing extra at the end of each payday without me working, and even then, after childcare, we still only get about $700/mo. from my check that actually belongs to us.  However, we'll probably fall firmly into category 1 after this upcoming March.  I'll still work though.  I love my job and my field is insanely competitive, so it is where I'll be for a while.  If I have the opportunity to take my current position to part time after March, I will, but I don't think I'll ever quit working.  I love it.


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#24 of 25 Old 10-06-2013, 02:07 AM
 
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(1.) Totally my choice, finances not an issue, followed my heart on whether or not to work or for how long.

(2.) No choice, circumstances/finances dictated I must work.

(5.) Found another flexible solution- WAH, work part-time, work off hours.

 

Gee, I think I'm a combo of 1, 2, and 5.

 

I would definitely say I work because I love my job, not because we need the money.

 

That said, I definitely would have chosen longer maternity leaves (a year instead of 8 weeks) if it were feasible.  #2 applies in that given I choose to be in the field I am in, then I really cannot take extended periods of time off of work entirely.  The tradeoff is that where I'm at now (academic research), a ton of that can be done at home, at night, or both.  There are relatively few hours of 'face time' required per week.

 

I did work part-time when DD1 was under a year (was still in training then), and now I have extremely flexible hours that enabled me to WAH almost entirely (going in maybe 3-10 hours per week as needed) for DD2's first year.  I actually chose my area of interest partly for its flexibility, and specifically designed my research project to be 'family-friendly.'


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I was a WOHM for ten years, and have now been a SAHM for just over ten years.  For the ten years I was a WOHM, it was a case of number two. I was the main breadwinner, and without my paycheque, we'd have been unable to keep food on the table or a roof over our heads. (When I eventually broke up with my ex, he took both his paycheque and his own expenses with him - and I was better off financially within a month, despite never receiving any child support.)

 

I chose to be a SAHM after my second child was born. For the first few years, it took considerable financial sacrifice for us to make that work. However, dh's job has gone very well over the last 5-6 years, and it's not difficult for me to stay home these days. Honestly, with three school age (dd2 is technically preschool age) to arrange care for, and my own long absence from the workforce (pretty much my entire skill set is obsolete at this point...and I have too many brain fog issues to function at the level where I used to function), it would probably cost us money for me to go back to work. I'm very grateful that I don't have to.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by KSLaura View Post



(1.) Totally my choice, finances not an issue, followed my heart on whether or not to work or for how long.

(2.) No choice, circumstances/finances dictated I must work.

(3.) No choice, circumstances/finances dictated I must stay home.

(4.) Made a difficult choice/lifestyle sacrafices to be where I'm at.

(5.) Found another flexible solution- WAH, work part-time, work off hours.

 

 


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