The Decision to Stay Home
I didn’t really know it was a lie at the time, but not long after falling in love with him and dreaming of having his child, I wasn’t quite sure how to break the new “truth”.
I ventured into my career at 21. I was self sufficient, driven, and good at what I did. The satisfaction that came with my career was positively overwhelming. Working a million hours was worth it, being on call 24/7 was welcomed, and the stress served as a motivator more than an inhibitor. And although I always knew I wanted children, the thought of ever giving up such a huge part of my life (and identity) was out of the question.
So I declared my hunger for my career to the man who would later become my husband.
“I definitely want children, but I could never be one of those women who didn’t work!”
And to a man who values financial security like a survivor of the Great Depression, this was one of my best qualities.
But then my view changed. My best friends had babies, and I gained a new respect for the gravity of the time commitment and responsibility of parenthood. My relationship with my then boyfriend shifted my perspective and suddenly making dinner and telling stories and holding hands and sharing dreams became far more validating than balancing budgets and customer retention.
And I slowly realized my career was no longer my identity. My happiness came from elsewhere.
Not long after becoming pregnant, I broached the topic of staying home with my husband. Sacrificing my salary was a hard pill for both of us to swallow- his need to remain financially ahead of the game and my need to feel the independence of having my own money jarred our vision of my staying at home with our son.
I knew the responsibility of being the sole bread winner in our home would add stress to my husband, thus adding tension to our relationship. And I feared the day I might feel guilty for making a purchase he didn’t agree with since “our” money would really be “his” money. How would I buy his birthday presents? Ask him for the money? Both our mothers always worked, so we didn’t have the best examples to follow in this department. And meeting after we were both firmly planted in our careers, we never blended finances in the “traditional” sense.
After many grueling conversations, we made a decision.
My desire to stay at home with our son (at least for six months) means I will leave my job. And if after six months, our budget indicates I need to return to work, will I be able to find another job? And if so, will it be enough to offset the costs of childcare?
I feel blessed to have the option- temporary or not. For now, this feels like the right and best decision for our family. Sure, there will be growing pains along the way. Adjustments aren’t usually easy. Money will be tighter than we’d like. I may miss some semblance of my “former” independence. And my husband may lose his mind.
Was the decision whether or not to stay home with your new baby difficult for your family?
*Image provide by the author.