Will it ever feel like this Parent + Professional Life is working?
For me, returning to work when my daughter was born was the easy part. It was being apart during the toddler years that was hard.
Every Possible Option
I’ve tried every way I can think of these past three years. Full-time. Part-time. No time. Salaried. Hourly. Contract.
I ask my sister, my coworkers, and my friends the same question burning in my mind each week:
What’s the answer?
- Is it more time at home, but less money?
- Maybe more time at work, and more money, but then more childcare (and possibly even less money?)
- More “flexibility” with one boss, less with another, and maybe just always trying to figure out exactly what that means?
- Perhaps more responsibility in the office, but also more demand on your personal time, too?
We all reach the same conclusion, a slightly different question:
Is there any real answer?
Leaving Work, Coming Home
A couple of years in and we got tired of “the hustle.” We wanted the ability to create space in our lives, so we took the plunge — I left the work world and came home.
It was wonderful and the lifestyle, the quietness of it worked for us for a while. I’d always wanted to be a stay-at-home Mom, but after a year, we found it was no longer our answer. We got the togetherness we wanted but discovered we were missing our separateness. Coming to that conclusion wasn’t easy.
Yet we couldn’t ignore it.
Every day our daughter was changing and reaching to find her place in the world. It was time for me to start looking for my next chapter, too.
So, I went back to work.
What’s not working is feeling like the progress we were making at home has once again been reduced to the execution of routine tasks, or that my “parenting practice” is just another thing to get squeezed into the weekend. I miss the stretches of time we had before to grow alongside one another.
I miss the way we were growing together.
What is working are the tiny triumphs we stumble upon. Like when we settle into routines that steady and connect us, and keep us above the “not working” frustration. Like fixing her hair at breakfast and doing secret handshakes at the front door, or the sweetness of Saturday mornings.
With each work week, it gets better, then hard, and then better again, for each of us.
No Answers, But Conclusions
I thought coming home would be the answer, not an interim solution. I hadn’t thought about the “next-next” step, so it had to be my answer. I’d idealized being a stay-at-home Mom. In all my dreaming I forgot to think about what I might do afterward, or even that I would do something else again. Somewhere along the way, I made it my answer.
The truth is there is no magic job or childcare schedule or work-life balance. No perfect situation. No real solution.