before holden, i worked part-time from home at a job. despite the fact that i had always envisioned myself as a stay at home mom, we didn’t think we would be able to survive comfortably on just one income and so we planned for me to continue working from home once holden arrived, fitting my work in between his naps (ha!). once holden arrived, i could barely fathom taking any time away from him to go back to a job that i didn’t enjoy in the least and i decided not to. we made sacrifices and still struggle financially from time to time, but for us our top priority was for me to be home with him.
and unfortunately, this seems to be a growing anomaly to the norm. in the past, it was easily possible for a family to survive off of one salary; however in today’s world, despite even the best financial planning, it is sometimes impossible for a couple to survive on a single income. the number of children under five who spend time in non-parental care has risen significantly in recent years and although most mothers who drop their kids off every morning will tell you that it’s not an easy decision, for many there is no other option.
being the first of my friends to get pregnant, i didn’t know anyone else in the area with children so once dustin’s paternity leave was over i started attending a new parent group for babies 0-3 months. we met twice a week and discussed all of the issues, both big and small, that come with having a newborn including sleep, feeding, adjusting to parenthood, adjusting as a couple, and a common source of discussion was mothers heading back to work.
although some of the mothers were looking forward to going back to their jobs, they were still heartbroken over the matter, the majority of women in the group just not quite ready to leave their little ones, a visible anxiousness and growing apprehension appearing in their faces as the their time grew shorter and shorter. many wanted to go back to their jobs eventually, just not after a short three weeks. as the months quickly passed, more and more mothers dropped out of the group and at the end of the three months, we were left with a small handful of women who were able to stay at home with their little ones.
some mothers happily stay at home, some mothers happily head back to work, some mothers begrudgingly head back to work, but at the very least shouldn’t we have the ability to have more of a choice in the matter without feeling forced into the situation.
whether it’s longer paid maternity leaves, jobs that offer salaries that allow families to live off of one income, or companies holding the position for women that wish to stay at home longer, i wish that as mothers we had more of a choice in the matter of heading back to work or not.