Parenting requires sacrifice, that’s a given. Most often, our sacrifices are merely based on how we prioritize our lives. In my own, the health, happiness, and general well-being of my son is first, followed closely by the health of my relationship with my husband. After those two priorities, my list becomes a little jumbled and perhaps it’s just one giant third category that includes friends, family, our financial state, other various responsibilities, and my career.
“Career” seems like a distant word for me now. Families are composed of all varieties: one partner working and the other being stay at home parent, both partners working, single moms, single dads, grandparents responsible for their grandchildren and the list goes on. In our home, my husband and I both worked full-time career-path jobs before I became pregnant. We each graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Kent State University and quickly moved into the daily white-collar rat race. While I didn’t always enjoy my job, I was moving up. Receiving promotions, raises, perks, more vacation time. There was a reason to work hard, because there was opportunity for growth.
I knew pretty quickly after finding out I was pregnant that I didn’t want my son growing up his first few years with two full-time working parents, if it was at all possible to avoid. And, I also knew that we couldn’t possibly survive on one income, or even 1.5 incomes. We did some intense budgeting for me to go part-time at a new job, cutting out luxuries we had become accustomed like TV, which I actually don’t miss all that much. For me, I knew that working part time was ideal. I could raise my son, enjoy the early years teaching him, be able to take him to doctor’s appointments and play dates, and know that he wasn’t in daycare 50 hours a week.
But, the sacrifice that came with that was stifling. Thankfully, raising my child has indefinitely been the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done, but my lack of fulfillment in my job was unexpected. I now work part-time as an office manager at a local nonprofit. There is little extrinsic, or even intrinsic, value to my job. I bust ass and get things done, and my days usually go quickly because I’m busy. But there is no upward mobility. No ladder to the next position. No career advances.
It’s humbling. Really. I’ve found that I stress less at my current position because I’m not in competition with the person in the next office over for the next raise. It’s just me, doing my best every day, fully knowing that there is no benefit to doing my best.So am I falling behind?
Once my son heads off to school, I plan on heading back into the workforce full-time. Will I be overwhelmed? Will I be the old person that knows nothing? Will I be able to get a job? Will I remember my workplace skills?
These questions nag at me every so often. When I look at my LinkedIn profile and realize that it should really read “great at super quick diaper changes” or “professional at neutralizing toddler tantrums”… it makes me wonder if I should have a LinkedIn profile at all.
But here’s the thing:
I will never, not once, regret raising my son. It will not happen.
Jobs will come and go. The corporate rat race will continue indefinitely.
My son will only be little once. I count myself fortunate to be able to swing our finances in a way that I’m able to be part-time, because I do realize that this is a blessing that many families couldn’t possibly consider doing.
So for now, I will treasure every day with my toddler. I’ll worry less about the corporate world. I’ll keep my connections and continue networking. And when the day comes that I head back into the workforce, I’ll face it proud with the years that I’ve just spent raising a little boy. Because my husband and I both know, raising our child is the most important job there is.
And to my wonderful, amazing husband that does work full-time making it possible for me to be part-time, I love you and appreciate you more than you’ll ever know.
As an aside, if you’re wondering what the value of a stay-at-home mom is, check out this article.