A Compromise

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Categories Attitude, Balance, Difference, Emotion, Fear, Feeling Overwhelmed, Finances and Saving, Guilt, Joy, Lifestyle, Mommy Issues, Parenting, Perspective, SAHM, Working

A few days ago marked the close of another school year, the first one I taught after my twins were born. Having only worked 6 weeks the year prior before taking my maternity leave, it was a difficult adjustment. The first several weeks seemed like just an exhausted blur, and the weeks following did not get much better. The month of March (the “long March”) was the worst. I was feeling depressed, rundown, burnt out, just plain tired and uninspired.

The crawling babies began to walk, then run, then climb, and by the end of the school year their naps were hit-and-miss because they were ready to transition to only one. So I had cranky babies and a preschooler to pick up from school, then feed and bathe all three after a full day of work. And I constantly worried about my aging mom, who I counted on every single day in order for me to go to work. I started to rethink this decision made a year ago

Clearly, I knew my husband’s position. We’ve had this discussion many times before; I’ve been wanting to be a SAHM ever since our first was born. But the decision we made came mostly from his arguments, all of which are valid: We have family nearby, they’re willing to help, these are our prime working years, I should be building my career and our family’s financial wealth. But he doesn’t understand the guilt that comes from having nothing left to give to the kids crying and tugging at you for your attention at the end of each day. He doesn’t understand that I blissfully enjoyed almost an entire year at home with my firstborn (starting 10 weeks before her siblings were born so she had me completely to herself), and the sadness I feel that the twins will NEVER get to experience that, just by the fact there are two of them plus an older sister.

One morning in early May, after a night of tormented sleep, I sought out my administrators to ask if there were any options for me to relieve some of this distress. Other than resign and lose my job security and all the years of service credit I’ve built with the district, the only other option was to work part-time. I never considered this an option because… well, because it is rarely done. I’ve only known two colleagues who have ever done it, and currently there is only one other teacher working part-time in the entire district. But, surprisingly, after almost collapsing into tears while telling my principal of the difficulties of trying to be the best mom I could while also being the best teacher I could, she was completely supportive. And, it turns out, so was my assistant principal working on the master schedule (the schedule of all courses during all class periods for every teacher at the school)– he was able to give me two morning classes a day.

My husband and I then had this discussion once again, but this time I was offering an alternative. What if I could keep my job security, keep my vested years and retirement, but also spend more quality time with the kids? I had the numbers to present to him, and my mom had already signed off on the idea. We could take the financial hit temporarily; my mom would only have to watch them for less than 3 hours a day instead of 8. I could feel fulfilled, as I am keeping my career, but also not be completely worn out before I even pick up my kids. Surprising me yet again, my husband agreed.

Life changes after having kids. This is the way we’ve decided to compromise. My new contract was signed last Friday. I’m not absolutely sure yet that this is the best way to go for our family, but I am trying something that I think might work. We will see.

lunchldyd is currently on summer vacation from her job as a high school teacher. Her husband has deferred his hopes of moving into a bigger house soon because of her part-time working decision. 

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lunchldyd is mom to 3 year old boy/girl twins and their 5.5 year old sister. She is now teaches part-time to juggle the needs of her young children. When not at work and the kids are asleep, she is addicted to watching TV and sometimes sacrifices sleep to read in bed. She lives in the Los Angeles suburbs with her husband, three kids, and two dogs.

15 thoughts on “A Compromise”

  1. You’re so very fortunate to have this option. I thought I was being so clever when I decided to break my FMLA into 8 weeks full time and 8 weeks half time. In retrospect, 2 months is awfully young to be starting daycare, but it did allow me to ease back into the workforce. When my FMLA was up, my boss let me work part time (meaning 30 hours per week) until the kids were 7 months old, but I found it impossible to get anything done with the reduced hours, especially when factoring in multiple pumping sessions. And I learned that working part time generally means trying to fit 40 hours of work in a shorter work week.

    I loved the extra time with my kids, and liked that they had the stimulus of daycare, but I hated the guilt I felt as work piled up or I had to decline another meeting that didn’t fit with my schedule.

    I agree that working part time allows you the best of both worlds. Unfortunately, there are few part time jobs that pay enough to cover the costs of daycare and practically none in my field. So we continue to struggle through our hectic schedule, and try to make up for it on weekends and holidays. My kids love daycare, so I try to remind myself of that when it gets really hard.

    1. I find it so unfair that us women often bear the brunt of this career vs mommyhood dilemma. I don’t know if I will ever be at peace with any decision I make.

      1. Such a timely post. I am going to start part-time teaching in the fall after 2 years at home with my twins. I am so nervous about not being able to do either job well, or to feel at peace with the decision, as you say so well. Part of me craves the stimulation of working at school. Another part is dying at the thought of entrusting my children to another person for 4 hours a day. It may not seem like a big deal to some, but this has been sort of agonizing for me. I’m sure there will be times I regret the decision to go back – and I would probably feel the same no matter what I decided. Let’s keep each other posted on this – we can support each other! :o)

        1. Yes! I remembered you said you were teaching part-time. Weren’t you going to last year? Have you found a good daycare/preschool for your boys yet?

  2. This is the type of creative thinking you have to exercise when you have twins. I started staying home with my four boys about 2 months ago. My kids are 6, 4, and the twins are 2. My twins receive a variety of therapy due to developmental delays and their schedule was getting increasingly harder to do with me working full time. It was the best decision I ever made for my family. I’m still doing part time on call work as a therapist fielding crisis assessments which is a nice supplement to our income and doesn’t require childcare since it’s after my husband is home from work. I get to stay in the field and be home with my sweeties.

    1. It is a major pay cut (salary, benefits, etc all at 40%), so in my “spare” time while at home I’m going to be brainstorming other ways to increase our income somehow. Husband would like me to get a real estate license.

  3. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure this will be the best. There are perhaps family members who will disagree with what we did, but the decision’s been made. And we will have to work through whatever sacrifices and consequences that may happen as a result. I am glad to get your support in this forum though.

  4. I think it’s really great that you had this option available to you. Your bio made me laugh. The longer you delay the bigger house, the longer you delay the extra vacuuming 😉

  5. I just wanted to give you more support- I hope it’s the perfect mix for your family! I have worked part time since my little guys were 18 months (they are now almost 4 1/2) and for me, it’s the perfect blend of family/children time and adult time in a career I love. I hope this gives you that same balance :) Best wishes!!

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