The Big Dilemma

by Heligirl on April 21, 2010

in Daily Ramblings

I’m standing on the edge of a cliff of decision and am scared to death to take the plunge. The big question is, do I leave the relative safety of a professional career to be a stay at home mom (SAHM)? On one hand, in this economy, it’s scary to consider going to a single income and leaving the future of our family income to my hubby (where his company keeps laying people off and he never knows if he’s going to be next).

On the other hand is the terrible feeling I’m having every day that I’m missing my children growing up. Granted, I’m only gone from them Monday and Tuesdays until 1 p.m. and Thursdays and Fridays until 2:30 p.m. The truth is I’m with them more often than most working moms. Sadly, that doesn’t make me feel any better.

Today I took the kids to an indoor community center toddler gym and we had a blast. I also got to talk to a mom and several nannies. The mom told me it was tough to make the decision to stay home, but once she did, she’s never looked back.

“You make it work financially, and in the end, I think the kids do notice when you’re around all the time.”

Her son was in a preschool three mornings a week and her daughter was with her all the time. Her oldest was two years older than Sweetness, but the age spread between siblings was the same as mine.

“I love not having a structured day, feeling rushed,” she told me. Oh how I long for that feeling. I get so stressed on nights before I have to go to work, trying to get the morning stuff all done and set out, lunches/bags packed, stuff together for me for the next day, then get to bed at a descent hour. That’s not to mention Mr. Man’s wake up calls at night and my rush to get up, shower, made up, dressed, fed and out the door by 6:45 a.m. (not to mention the kids). I get to work most mornings feeling stressed, tired and disorganized.

I’ve also lost all passion and sense of belonging at work, for many reasons beyond just wanting to be with my kids. Sometimes I find myself hoping I’ll get a pink slip so I can at least get unemployment. I’m bored, uninspired, disconnected, disengaged and frustrated. I’ve quite literally stopped caring. I’m just a robot there now.

When I look at the numbers, it’s still hard. We can meet all regular bills, even have a little extra cash. But, while I’ll save $1400 a month on childcare, we won’t be saving for the kids’ college, putting money in the IRAs, or even having much for a vacation. And I’ll be walking away from a hefty annual 401(k) contribution (including matching).

“I look at it this way, I’ll make more money. But you can’t get these years back,” my friend Tracy, who recently quit her job after having her second child, told me. That struck home. I really feel guilty now for worrying about the money.

Oh hell, I don’t know what to do. I’ve spent so much of my life living from paycheck to paycheck that it’s such a sense of security to have more income than we need to just break even. I love that we’re saving. But I don’t want to do so at the risk of my kids.

I would really love to hear your thoughts, experiences.

{ 6 comments }

LCW April 22, 2010 at 4:15 am

My husband and I made the decision when I was six months pregnant that I would not return to my job as a teacher at the start of the school year. My daughter was due in Sept. So in June I walked away from my career, our second income and saved my sanity! I was unhappy, and I knew that trying to juggle a job and a new baby would only make it worse. We made the decision and knew it would be difficult financially, but we made it work. And seven months later I do not regret the decision at all. I actually watch another little boy the same age as my daughter and bring in some extra cash each month. I love being able to make some money and be with my daughter all day. I do not want to miss the ONE time she rolls over. Yeah, she’s only rolled once, but ya know what? I SAW IT!! I believe children are only little for a short time and it’s those moments you want to savor. Do what’s best for your family and your sanity. And last night, I actually had a dream I was a teacher again and I woke up in sweating….the thought of going back into the classroom makes me ill. I’d rather be on a tight budget then go back to doing something my heart isn’t in anymore. Good luck with your decision.

Jennifer @ three pugs & a baby April 22, 2010 at 4:19 am

I’m a SAHM. Most days, it’s amazing. Some days, I find myself ready to apply at McDonalds just to get away. I left a career I loved. It was very high-pressure and time-consuming with travel (I wouldn’t have seen Turtle for at least one month of every year, at a minimum). I couldn’t make it work.

To me, it sounds like you have the best of both worlds. A PT job, even if you don’t care about it, which brings financial security, and way more time with your kids.

But, as with all things, you have to follow your heart. It’s a hard decision. Best of luck.

Sarah April 22, 2010 at 7:47 am

Do it. You remember my struggle, the looking for nannies, the freaking out, the sadness at leaving my baby. I have never been happier or more fulfilled than I am as a SAHM and now a WAHM. It’s the best thing in the world and the money really will figure itself out. It always does. You just make different choices and there are plenty of resources out there (not the least of which are your fellow SAHMs!) to help you change your consumption patterns. You’ll also find that you spend less money in areas, other than just childcare, when you’re home full time.

Of course it’s not all puppies and rainbows, staying home can be maddening, but sometimes you have to close a door to see new ones begging to be opened.

Heligirl April 22, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Thank you so much you guys! I’m slowly getting things in order to make the move. However, today Hubby told me they announced another round of layoffs at his company, so I’m back to waiting to see if he loses his job. I’m really starting to detest his company and how they like to lay off a bunch of people, the promote more up to management.

Kirsten April 24, 2010 at 11:11 am

We are in the same boat! Every morning my hubby helps us pack the car and says, “is this REALLY worth it?”…such a hard decision! I hate feeling like I choose money over my kids…but financial security is important too! I don’t know…we’ll see how long I can hold out! PS I think the government should pay for women who do a good job at mothering…what is more important than raising a well adjusted and loved child?! In my dreams, lol!

Kate Walton April 26, 2010 at 9:22 am

Hi Jen, just a quick note to commend you for all the hard thinking and honesty you are bringing to this difficult decision. It’s such a tough issue, with–alas–no easy answers, but I know that one way or another you’ll find the path that’s right for you. I’m wrestling with similar questions, but from a bit of a different perspective: I love my kids more than life itself, but I’ve come to realize that I’m *not* a great SAHM, that I really *need* to work, not only for the financial security but also for my sanity. But that realization comes with a tanker-sized boatload of guilt as well–so, as I said, there are no easy answers, are there? Anyway, just wanted to wish you all the best as you sort through your dilemma. And HAVE FUN this weekend. Try to keep the licking as lady-like as possible, okay?

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