Last week, I came across a comment that seemed to imply that women who balance motherhood and careers, and have “utterly crazy lives, scheduled to the hilt” are (1) not really happy, and if they write a post saying that they are happy, they are just trying to convince themselves that they are happy, and (2) that they aren’t enjoying their kids, because they would need to take time off from work to do that.
It made me think about my decision to continue to work now that I have BlueEyes. Before he was born (or even conceived) I was sure that I was going to continue to work if and when I had kids. And I was already pretty busy and “scheduled to the hilt” (new expression I learned today), which I just really like to be. If I don’t have a lot to do then I’ll only procrastinate on the little things that I should do that day, whereas if I’m busy I’ll just do them.
But then when BlueEyes was born and I was enjoying my 3 months of paid maternity leave (thanks to my PI!) I could not imagine that I would ever leave him with someone else. I couldn’t image ever going back to work and not be there for him to feed and cuddle him whenever he wanted. At that point quitting work seems like something that would make me happy. But would it make me happy in the long run too?
A while longer into my maternity leave it started to be kind of hard to be home with BlueEyes the whole day. He didn’t nap as much as before and at the end of the day I was exhausted and happy that Dr. BrownEyes was getting home with hands to hold BlueEyes and some interesting talk about work. And the Saturday that I spent writing a grant was really the turning point: it made me so happy to be thinking about experiments and to be working on something I am passionate about again. And then again, it feels weird to even write this because I am passionate about raising BlueEyes, but I’ve realized that being a stay at home mom is maybe even harder for me that to be a working mom.
The first day that BlueEyes went to daycare I felt horrible, and it made me gravely doubt my decision to go back to work. And the other day I seriously considered becoming a stay at home mom but then also be a lactation consultant or a babywearing expert on the side to have something to do (I actually looked into how to become these things). However, I think that working will bring me long-term happiness, and I believe that when I’m happy that will make me a better mother to BlueEyes.
I think it’s good to doubt your decisions every now and then, and look at your choices from a distance to determine whether you’ve made the right one. I often imagine what my life would look like if I made other choices, but I think it’s a very good thing that you never know what the outcome of a different decision would have been (would I have been a millionaire already if I had not gone to grad school?).