by Rita Arens
This week I had a meeting with a woman who left the workforce when her second son was born and the first stopped sleeping. She had a great career, an enviable career, but one day, she'd just had it and realized she wanted to be home for her kids. She said they were poor for a while. We talked about how some of her friends and family reacted to her decision, how some called it "giving in," how she'd built a successful consulting career in the 15 or so years since she made that decision.
I ate my bagel and wanted to cry. If I quit my job, we wouldn't be just poor. We'd be out on our asses.
I've been having a hard working mommy week. The little angel has been really fighting daycare. I don't know what's different - she was doing fine for months - maybe it's that she senses in me a wistfulness when I drive her there. A realization, for me, that any chance I would have to be home with her before she starts real school is running through the hourglass at breakneck speed, and there is nothing I can do to reverse time.
I've worked full-time since she was three months old. I've had to. We are a solidly dual-income family - we need both salaries. I've gone around and around the mulberry bush for four years, trying to figure out how I could possibly spend more time with my daughter, and the answers have always been disappointing. I don't regret my "decision" to work, per se, because it doesn't feel like a decision when it's a necessary evil. I'm very happy I've been able to move my career in a direction that makes me happier - I love writing and editing - but I'd love to do it fewer hours a week, at least now, before my daughter completely grows up on me.
I don't know where I'm going with this. I feel like I've been over this ground so many times I've worn ruts with my pacing, and the answers never change. But this morning when my daughter clung to me, crying, I think if I'd been able to make a decision like the woman with whom I had coffee, I would've done it right then.
But I can't.
From Surrender, Dorothy.