Years ago when I was in school, I never really thought about the logistics of raising kids. I figured I would have a couple and that was it. I didn’t think about childcare, whether to send them to day care or having a parent stay home with them. I mean, why was I going to school if I was just going to stay home, right?
Then I got pregnant with Liam. I knew I wanted a longer maternity leave. Twelve weeks seemed like a slap in the face, of course I was going to want more leave and fortunately for me, there was a trailblazer in my group. She had taken six months, I was going to do that too. I didn’t have too many hurdles getting that leave but I still wasn’t sure where I was going to put the child after I had him. We toured day cares and the anxiety attack feeling I got when I walked the halls didn’t feel right. We didn’t really know where we were going to have Liam go until I was in maternity leave. I don’t even remember the conversation where we decided my husband would stay at home. I do remember the first day I pumped at home in preparation for going back to work. I cried. I felt like a cow. I did not want to be the one going back to work. In my walking group at the time, I remember telling them that hopefully on the next kid, things would be different. I went back to work, it wasn’t so bad. I got used to being there, pumping for my child while I was away. I rationalized that this was great for my son because he was getting time with his Dad.
Fast forward to next pregnancy. I really hoped that I could quit my job and stay at home with baby number two but it just didn’t seem like it was possible financially. I told my immediate boss that I was pregnant and was so relieved to hear him say that I could have the same leave arrangement. I was about thirteen weeks pregnant. However, upper management got involved, we had a new VP. He didn’t like the precedent that had been set, I guess thinking that twelve weeks was ample time to bond and take care of a baby. His wife stays at home with the kids. I was informed that nothing could be set in writing about my leave but they would do the best to work with me. And they did….for the most part. I was asked to come into the office earlier into my maternity leave but was still allowed to work from home part time. This maternity leave I had more responsibilities and my job was okay, I knew that I had to do everything to please my group that I could, otherwise they would pull the rug out from under me and I would have to be back full time. I checked and responded to e-mails in the days after Nick was born. I was on conference calls just a few weeks after his birth. I even got the opportunity to be cussed out and curse back at a manager in another group, he was griping about me being on maternity leave. Yes, this was working out wonderfully well. (Dripping in sarcasm).
My desire to be in the engineering world was quickly leaving me as the years passed by. I probably should have done an internship during my college career, I would have probably realized this wasn’t the place for me. Once again, I think my type A personality got in my way, I loved seeing peoples faces when I said I was an Electrical Engineer…and female and now a mother of two boys. Wow, I must be super mom. I was proud, kind of.
Before I had even returned from maternity leave, I was already looking for a new job within my company and outside too. I didn’t want to be in that group anymore. I knew that I wanted another child and I could see that they were not going to allow another longer maternity leave. I was stressed in that position, seeing that they were going to demand more time from me, more time from my family and that I was bringing the stress home to my family. Not a good situation.
I was fortunate to find a different job, but it wasn’t my dream job, heck I don’t know what my dream job would possibly be. However, people often asked how I liked the job. It’s just a job unfortunately. I go into work, put in my time and then go home and forget about it. I knew that the new position would not allow any type of alternate leave plan if I became pregnant. This group definitely didn’t operate that way. When I got pregnant my husband had already started working out of town in the hopes that one day I could stay at home with our kids. We had a baby sitter come to our house for a few weeks before that didn’t work out. Then my friend volunteered to be our babysitter for us. It was a real blessing to have her be their care giver. She was affordable and we all knew it would be temporary because the hope and plan was for me to stay at home with the kids. The boys ended up being watched by one other care giver during this time, in the last two months. Another great baby sitter, but I honestly don’t know how people afford childcare long term. It is so expensive. I didn’t save my leave this time because I really hoped that I wouldn’t have to come back. At the moment, I really hope and pray that I can stay at home with my kids….all three of them. I don’t know if it will happen. I’m on maternity leave right now. I have no idea what the next few weeks hold. My desire is very strong to stay at home to take care of our new baby myself and begin homeschooling. I’m just not sure if that is in God’s plan but I’m praying fervently. If only my husband could take my job, just as a technician since he doesn’t have an engineering degree. I’m praying that his current job works out. I can see how much this new role means to him. He is happier and when he is happy, it makes me happy.
In the weeks before having Grant, I kept having women make comments to me about how much I work, how many hours I must be away from my kids, or them not understanding how young women do it. Way to shove a knife into the guilt wound ladies. Even if I loved what I was doing for a career, those comments are still hurtful. We all make different decisions based on our particular circumstances. I just hope and pray that something miraculous will happen in the next few weeks. The desire to stay home with my kids has not gone away in five years. I don’t want to live a life of regret.