I am standing on the edge of one of the biggest jumps of my life. Either I go back to work part-time as an intervention teacher and attempt to juggle my dream of writing into the mix of afterwork motherhood, or I take a deep breath, and jump straight into life as a stay-at-home mom and writer.
For many, the answer seems easy. JUMP. But the decision is much more layered than I expected. I love my school, my students, my coworkers. Some days I feel on the verge of going stir crazy at home. I have a part-time job waiting that may never be there again. The predictability of a work schedule, a paycheck, and good health insurance speaks to my cautious nature. Returning to work is somehow the less frightening choice.
Then, there is my daughter. Our biological strings are still firmly attached. When I am away, she is constantly on my mind, pulling at my body for milk. Every day she does something new, something I do not want to miss. While part-time work may give me the chance to catch many of these moments, it does not leave as much space for writing. As it is, I have to sneak my words in a few at a time, while she is sleeping or while I do not have to use my precious childcare hours for some other endeavor, like getting my teeth cleaned or running to the grocery store. And then, of course, there are other family circumstances that must go unmentioned.
A friend and I talked this week about how mothers feel pressured to be supermom and do everything, but the truth is, I don’t feel pressured, I just wish I could do everything. If only I could be in three places at once, mothering, writing, and working. Obviously mothering wins on that list, but between writing and working, I do not have it figured out and the battle is agonizing.
Returning to work is the known. Taking the leap of faith is the unknown, but so far motherhood has been one huge leap of faith, from our decision to see if it happens, to hoping every moment of every day she would be born healthy, to the daily trial and error of new parenting. In order to make this jump work, we will need to restructure everything, to change the way we live.
Even as I write this, I feel aware of how lucky I am to be able to make this choice– but I also think the choice is within reach for many more women than they realize, it just requires a possibly uncomfortable amount of change.
If you have been in my shoes before, how did you come to a decision? Did you jump impulsively or was it clear one option outweighed the other? For me, it has been much harder to decide than I ever expected.