The choice: Home with kids or on the career path?

Sep 25 2013 - 12:36pm

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Meg Sanders web sig
Meg Sanders web sig

Parenting is hard labor. I mean, it's no ditch digging in the hot sun, but have you ever had a marathon laundry folding session?

That business is tedious, not to mention back-breaking considering I have two children still pooping their pants so those baskets fill up quick.

It drives me nuts when people ask if I work. What do you call the laundry, counter-top wiping, vacuuming, and mind-numbing organizing of toys sure to be spilled on the floor minutes after they are stowed away?

My full-time job is stay-at-home mom, if you wish to get cheesy, CEO of the Sanders-Solomon household.

Whatever you want to call it, it's work.

Four years ago I would have gagged that sentence down followed by an eye roll that would make any teenager jealous of my ocular muscle dexterity. I had just come home from a fellowship in New York City, bitten by the big-city bug, dreaming of running a newsroom one day.

Wham-O. Pregnant.

My SAHM title has followed me around these last years and now I find myself itching to get back into the rat race. That is until I realize that all too familiar conundrum every mother faces. Is it worth it to have that second paycheck, the validation, and the time away to actually miss my children when I could be losing out on beautiful moments many women would cut off an arm to experience?

From news producer to mom, I have a new title which I take just as seriously. I went to college to get a degree, to learn about broadcast news, now I read books on how to parent and raise functioning adults.

I salivate over the idea of a second paycheck. Dreams of vacations, facials, new furniture, and spoiling my children flit into my mind pushing me to update my resume. We are now a two-income society if we even have a hope of flirting with the Jones', but the cost is just so huge.

Last week I pushed even closer to cliff's edge when I learned a girl I actually trained in news production is now an executive producer in a top 20 market. My skills have officially been surpassed which means if I did decide to wade back in, I would be the flunky working for the very people I taught. Twenty-four and dumb is no time to make a huge decision, but I had no idea when I walked away I might never get back.

On the flip side, I have been present for every major milestone of my three children.

I get to be with them each morning when they're fresh, non-whiney, and fun to be around. At night, I get to snuggle when they're dragging their bodies around, getting ready for sleep, excited at the prospects of the next day. I'm there when Benny falls, needing a kiss or when Bodie realizes he has feet. Scarlett is already a teenager in a preschooler's body so she needs me right there, all the time.

While I squirm over the question I see my husband completely at peace.

"Go out to work or stay home? Whatever." This is solely a woman's issue. He doesn't lose a wink over his choice to work, maybe because he has no choice (I'm by no means saying it's harder to be a woman, men come with a whole other set of issues). He has no fear of a stalled career, followed by guilt because it's even a concern to start with.

I'm in the throes of motherhood. My children are still small, still needing me around full-time, so I'm busy.

One day, hopefully not soon, I will load them on a bus; send them to a school for most of the day where I'll be left alone to pick up the pieces I shelved when I left the newsroom behind.

Will it be time to head back or will it still be important that I greet my children at the door, cookies and milk in hand? There's no doubt women can have it all, Marissa Mayer proves that (billions of dollars would make it easier), but for many of us, it's Sophie's Choice.

Perspective is the answer.

I've met many mothers who wished they could be home, mothers who regretted the decision to stay on a career path, but I've yet to meet a woman that regretted staying home with her children. While I've been left in the dust career wise, my kids still want to around, who knows how much longer I'll have that?

Meg Sanders fell down the rabbit hole of motherhood four years ago quitting her job as a news producer. Now she spends her days grasping onto her sanity, striving to be a good person, and fighting the urge to eat her young. She can be contacted at megssolomon@gmail.com

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