Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Motherhood and more: Weighing the workforce*

I’ve been contemplating going back to work.

Well, sort of. I mean, I want to. I do. Kind of. My kids are growing older. My son will start kindergarten in the fall, and my daughter will be old enough to start preschool.

It seems a good time to start looking. I like the idea of doing something, using my mind for more than worrying about my kids eating enough vegetables, contributing to the household funds, and in turn being able to go out to eat on occasion or buy a dress without feeling that I’m taking money away from my kids’ vegetable fund.

No, they don’t actually have a vegetable fund. But sometimes you need a pretty dress at the expense of a good grocery trip, you know?

(I’m joking.)

But, man. We’re coming up on summer, which is the best time to be a stay-at-home mom. We can spend all of our time outside playing in the little pool, making smoothies and digging in the dirt. We can ride bikes and grow tomatoes and blow bubbles.

Winters are hard because I’m not the best at playing and when we’re inside they both look to me to entertain them. Well, me or the Ipod, which they continuously fight over. And I spend a lot of time arguing with my son to wear actual long pants when it’s 10 degrees outside. And I fight with my daughter to stay inside when she isn’t wearing shoes or a coat or pants when it’s 10 degrees outside.

And then I fight against my urge to run away from home.

But summers are so much easier on everyone, especially considering that I don’t have to layer up myself and my kids in scarves and hats and gloves and, most difficult of all, pants, just to go out the door. And the kids are much better at entertaining themselves outside without my help. And there is less fighting because there is more to do.

I’ve been lucky to be able to stay at home with them for as long as I have. It most definitely hasn’t been easy — monetarily or mentally. And physically, for that matter.

But I’ll never forget the relief of not having to take my daughter to daycare. Of being able to just hold her and not hand her off to someone I barely knew.

I don’t know. Maybe I’ll find the perfect job that will help me edge back into the workforce with relative ease. Or maybe I’ll stay at home another year or so, spending my time trying to keep my youngest from aggravating her brother more than anyone ever thought was possible.

It just depends. Whatever job I find has to be worth it. It has to be right for me and right for my family. It has to challenge me but also be something that makes me feel like I’m working toward something, like I’m doing something meaningful.

And it has to be worth being away from my babies.

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on April 24, 2013.  

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