I have yet to hear a man ask for advice on how to combine marriage and a career.

-Gloria Steinem

It's always been my belief that feminism is about a woman having a choice. A choice about what medical procedures to have performed on her body. A choice about whether to have a family, or to remain child-free. And a choice to return to work upon having that family, or to become a stay-at-home mother, or some variation of it.

Regarding the later, I always envisioned myself in the "have baby, return to work" category of feminist. I believed it was imperative for me not to "waste" my brains and education staying at home with my child. I thought the only way I could be a decent mother to my children was to live in the adult world during the day, and return home at night ready to immerse myself in the very different, although equally fulfilling, world of my baby. I thought I would go stir-crazy staying at home with only a child to talk to all day long. And while I believed that being a stay-at-home mom was the hardest job in the world, and a completely worthwhile one (my mom, aunt, and grandma were all SAHMs), the job wasn't for me.

And then Isabella arrived.

I'm now firmly entrenched in the other camp. There's now nothing I want more in this world than to "stay at home" with my baby.

Those of you who know me in real life might be shocked by this. Some of you may even be disappointed. All I can say is this. Having Isabella has completely changed my outlook on what's important in life. Right now, what's important to me is raising her and giving her the kind of unique childhood I was given (minus the parental unit divorce at age two). I was surrounded by family love and support on a daily basis. I was introduced to books at a very early age, which led me to begin reading at two and half years old. My mom took me and my sister to museums. To libraries. To children's theatre. She devoted herself to us in a way I've only recently begun to realize. I want to give Isabella that kind of focus, love, and attention. And I'm not sure I can do that while working full time. And the thought of this has been been killing me the last few weeks.

The reality of my work situation is this. I need to bring in money. I cannot be a full-time SAHM, and I probably wouldn't want that exact situation anyway. My ideal scenario is to work as a freelancer (and since I'm a writer by profession, this is entirely possible). I'm scheduled to "return" to work on December 4th. If my manager still agrees to the plan he approved, I'll work from home for the entire month of December, and then beginning in January, I'll spend one day working in the office, and the other four at home. I know this may seem an ideal scenario. I know this makes me lucky, as so many other mothers don't have this opportunity.

But my problem is this: the thought of having to park Isabella in her swing, or pack-n-play, or crib for hours everyday and hope that she entertains herself while I work for eight or nine hours is horrible. I want to play with her. Teach her. Spend time helping her brain to grow and thrive. How can I possibly do this while simultaneously working? She's so young and needy still. I know she needs me. How can I deny her the person she most needs in the world right now?

When she's older, it will be different. She'll have a predictable napping schedule. She'll be able to play on her own, and I'll be able to work when she does. But the truth of the matter is this. I don't want to work for a company anymore. I want to be my own boss, and work the hours of my choice, and not someone else's. I want to bring in the money I need to for our budget, but I want to do it on my time, so that Isabella can benefit from the flexibility. I'm doing everything I can right now to make this a possibility. Every sacrifice, financial, career, or otherwise is worth it, because she is worth it.

Because when you're looking at the face that I'm looking at all day, every day, how can you not want to devote yourself to her completely?

15 Responses to “180”

  1. # Blogger Marie

    I totally hear you, Kristi! There's nothing that can prepare you ahead of time for life as a Mom.

    There are options out there... You will find one that works for you, I am confident.

    Isabella is smiling!!?? OH MY!!! I must see her in person again soon... She is so precious.  

  2. # Blogger sunShine

    Good for you. I hope you can find a way to make it work. Isabella is so cute, I just want to kiss her little cheeks!  

  3. # Blogger jenny

    As one that knows you in "real life" I can say I'm not shocked or disappointed with this post.
    I think it's awesome for all families if one of the parents can stay home with the baby especially in their earlier years. It usually comes with the tradeoffs of spending less money in many other areas....there's definitely a lot to think about. I hope you guys can come up with something that works for you!  

  4. # Blogger Christine

    Goodness, it's never easy...but I have confidence that you'll find something that works for you and your family...

    Maybe if you can afford it or if your family is willing and able, you can have a sitter in for a few hours a day just so you can be most productive without feeling like you're leaving Isabella to entertain herself during that period...

    Otherwise, the freelancing would be awesome. There are always options. You just have to be creative in finding them.

    And Isabella? I could eat up her face she's so cute.  

  5. # Blogger CAL

    So you wanna be a stay-at-home mom? I'm not at all surprised. :)  

  6. # Blogger Hopeful Mother

    If I have learned one thing from infertility, it is that I have become less judgmental... never again will I say, about someone else's choice "I would never do that!" Now, I truly don't know how I will feel about anything until it comes up. And even then, my feelings can change from day to day.

    I think it's wonderful that you are exploring your feelings and options as a new Mom. I'm sure you and Rich will figure out what is going to work best for you three.

    Isabella is adorable - her smile must just light you up inside!  

  7. # Blogger The Princess

    I always knew I was going to stay home with my children, but I thought that I would at least work part time to keep my brain going....then I had my baby girl and my plan just went by the wayside. I never thought I'd love this as much as I do...funny how your child will do that to you!

    I agree with the other comment above me someone...could you bring in a sitter for a few hours?

    Good Luck..and that baby is gorgeous!!  

  8. # Blogger l

    I'm not surprised at the 180. I don't think anything in life prepares you for how profoundly your ideas can change when you have a child. The cool aunt who lets her 13 y.o. niece try a cigarette will herself become the most die hard anti-tobacco crusader when she has her own offspring. I hope you can find the way to stay at home and be your own boss.  

  9. # Blogger HoosierGirl5

    What an adorable little girl.

    I understand your dilemma completely. I think lots of us planned to go back to work after the baby, until we saw the baby!

    I know it's hard for you, but she will adjust to the one day a week, and when she gets older, she will look forward to her "day out".

    As the mother of 4, I know from experience it's much harder on us than it is on them. Really.


  10. # Blogger Beagle

    She is so very beautiful.

    You will find the right balance, I am sure of that. Enjoy her, soak it all in!  

  11. # Blogger Ramona

    Dr. Phil would say that being a SAHM is the equivalent of TWO full-time jobs!
    I can totally understand why you would want to stay at home with your beautiful daughter. These years go by much too quickly, and of course you want to be there to help her grow  

  12. # Blogger sher

    Of course!! I totally understand! I would feel the same way myself--look at that wonderful face. I melt whenever I see her. And there's nothing unusual about changing your mind about the direction to take on the path you walk. Keep trying to find a way for you to be with Ella. And thank you for including a picture of her. I really look forward to that  

  13. # Blogger smashedpea

    Heh, this happened to me, too. I laid eyes on her and knew I wanted to be home with her. I had moments when I was bored with her at home, but even then I never wanted to go back to work.

    Good luck to you in making it work! But honestly, I wouldn't count on getting too much work done from home while also looking after Isabella. Those monkeys have ways of sucking you in :)

    Hope it works out!  

  14. # Blogger Christy

    She's so precious! I know you can make it work. Especially since they do sleep a lot in the beginning.

    Thats great you have a job that will allow you to even work from home. Best of luck....you just want to smother yourself in their cuteness all the time!!!  

  15. # Blogger Kristi

    Marie-How true this is. And yup-smiling and laughing!

    Sunshine-Me too. And thanks!

    Jenny-Monetary sacrifice is totally worth it in my book. Hopefully Rich will come to see the light soon.

    Christine-I'll probably have family members here at least a few days a week to play with her. Problem is, I want to be the one to spend all the time with her.

    Cal-Well, I was!

    Hopeful Mother-The same thing happened to me in going through IF. I hope to find something that works.

    Princess-It's amazing how quickly we change once we realized how important it is to be there for our kids. I'm glad you're able to stay home and that you found something that works for your family.

    L-Yup. It definitely happened to me.

    Hoosier-I know. She will be fine (I hope). It's just me who will be the wreck!

    Beagle-Thanks for the encouragement.

    Ramona-How true that is, and I never realized it (even though I always believed it) until I became a mom.

    Sher-Trying to figure this situation has been my sole focus. Thanks for the kind words, and I'm glad you like the pictures!

    Smashedpea-Yup. I already know I'll get little done during the day. That's why I'm hoping for a freelance option.

    Christy-Exactly. There's nothing I want more than that. :)  

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