Way back when–before September 5, 2001, to be exact–I was the she-half of a happily thriving D.I.N.K. union. My husband Scott and I had both been in the TV/video post-production business for upwards of a decade; and our salaries were comparable when we decided to throw caution—along with my Tri-Levlen—to the wind and try to have a baby*. (*Note the singular. Who knew?)
Prior to that point, having been asked on more than one occasion by my grandchild-desiring mom, “Are you really happy being just a career girl?” (as if that was such a “bad” thing) beyond the reflexive daughter eye-roll response, I could answer with 100% sincerity, I was.
My career required extensive attention to detail, relentless follow-through, keen awareness of deadlines, prioritization skills, the ability to juggle numerous projects all in varying stages of completion with a smile, consistency and upbeat attitude, regardless of my clients’ often elevated stress levels and frequent whining. Sound familiar? At the risk of immodesty, I was very, very good at my job…except for one glaring aspect: my utter (and occasionally, crippling) inability to delegate. Even though I worked with incredibly gifted people, I always found the “pass off” difficult. Can you see where this is going?
Before Scott and I married, we both agreed we wanted to have one parent stay home with our child(-ren) whenever we had them… before we even knew they’d arrive as a “them!” As such, we made all our financial decisions based on single-income feasibility.
Once I became pregnant, despite my husband’s equal desire to be a stay-at-home/full-time parent (as was his boss’ husband, a triplet dad), the decision was made for me to make the career change to at-home, full-time caregiver…times two!
To bring this back to topic, with the exception of a week of grandparental assistance from each set of grandparents in those first five weeks, the occasional babysitter (I can actually count the times we’ve had a sitter on my kids fingers and toes), other than my incredibly gifted parenting partner/husband, when it comes to child-care for the first seven years of our twins’ lives, it’s been all mom, all the time. Not a martyr, more of a glutton…and a very poor delegater.
As the kids got older, I began taking on freelance gigs that could be accomplished at home…starting with some consulting work, then some accounting work, and eventually landing a significant, long-term job as a freelance writer/editor. Working from home can be accomplished without supplemental help, and is fiscally advantageous…but it may not be a viable scenario for everyone. Were it not for a laptop, our kids well-established (and enforced!) bed and waking times, and the understanding support of my husband who tolerated (and still does) extensive evening hours catching up on work uncompleted during daylight twin-focused times, working from home to the degree I did would have been impossible. Note the “did” in the last sentence…
In December, my three+ years as a web copywriter and editor for The Parent Company family of sites sadly concluded with the company’s declaration of bankruptcy. In January, Circuit City, where my husband has worked nearly 15 years as a brand advertising manager, not only declared bankruptcy, but liquidated. No COBRA benefits offered. Immediately, we knew we both had to pursue all occupational options, and as quickly as possible.
Fortunately, in February, I was able to re-enter the arena of TV/video post-production in a part-time, freelance associate producer role. Fortunately, my new employer is a very family friendly environment, where I am working alongside a former co-worker, who’s job sharing as a new mother herself. During the school year, my hours allow me to drop the twins off in their respective first grade classrooms, and pick them up at the final bell. More good news, my husband has also found a long-term, full-time, freelance job. So when summer comes, we’ll be matriculating into day care for the very first time.
As an already admitted poor “sharer,” I’ll be honest; this is a challenging thing for me. As luck would have it, I’d already researched and interviewed area childcare providers extensively for an article written for our local parenting magazine. I know the caliber of the location we’ve selected, and have subsequently ‘auditioned’ during spring break. Still, it’s tough.
Whether it’s because I’m rose-colored glasses nostalgic for the daily double stroller jaunts to the mall and various activities about town, because I’ll miss the flexibility to go in at a moment’s notice and be “guest reader” for one class or the other, or because I feel guilty—as if I am “passing off” my progeny, or guilty that I have to admit my days at work are actually rejuvenating, enjoyable—I don’t honestly know. What I do know now, or am on my way to knowing, is that all the roles: stay-at-home-mom, work-from-home-mom and working-out-of-home mom each have their unique benefits—and difficulties. Interestingly enough, at age seven, I feel convinced my twins would declare the same.