Tuesday, November 25, 2008

That Whole Work Thing

As I've mentioned before, I have always defined myself by my job/work/school. I have always worked hard and strongly valued such hard work. I often thought that were I to win the lottery I would like to continue working, in part because of the satisfaction I get from my work and in part because the joy of hard work is a value I want to pass on to Harry and any other children I may be fortunate enough to have.

That was then.

I am now just over one third of the way through my maternity leave (I am very fortunate to get six months off -- I am scheduled to go back in March) and the thought of ever having to return to work horrifies me. It's not really the work thing. Or even the trusting someone else to take care of Harry thing. Instead, it's the amount of time I'll get to spend with Harry.

I always planned to go back part-time. For my job, part-time was going to be 9-5, 4 days a week, which is a 70% schedule. For 70% time, you get 70% pay. I looked at my bank statement from the past month and realized that we'll be cutting it really close if I only get 70% of my salary (plus have to pay for day care, which isn't a huge percentage of my salary, but it's enough to make a dent). (And we don't spend a lot on discretionary stuff -- it's the mortgage, the car payments, car insurance, life insurance, supplemental disability insurance, student loan payments, utilities.) P only earns 25% of our household income, and he pays something like 10% of our bills. (I have yet to figure out where the rest of the money goes -- when I first graduated college, I earned less than he does now but managed to pay for a lot more. And yes, we've been together for nine years, living together for seven, and married for three, but have yet to merge our finances.) And he desperately wants a new job, but a new job is likely to entail a pay cut since it's going to be a career change as well as a job change. The job/career change may not happen right away given the state of the economy, but we need to plan for it.

If I have to go back full-time in order to be able to save money for college for Harry and pay our bills, then I could end up seeing Harry only when he gets up in the morning -- nursing him and getting him ready and dropping him at daycare, then only seeing him on the weekend, and even that wouldn't be guaranteed. Even going part-time will mean doing that, plus picking him up at 5:30, hanging out with him for a couple of hours, and putting him to bed, plus a fairly guaranteed three days a week with him.

I don't want to miss seeing my son grow up. I don't want to risk missing his first words, his first steps. The thought of it makes my heart break. I never thought I'd have any interest in staying home, no matter the circumstances. But all of a sudden, as the reality of having to return to work come March becomes apparent, I find myself staring far more longingly at my lottery season ticket, hoping that this week my number will be up. No win last night. Maybe Friday.


Katie said...

It's so tough making these decisions. I also was lucky enough to get six months off, which sounded like FOREVER at the time. Now that I am (gulp) halfway through, the reality is starting to hit me in the face.

We have some thinking to do. . .

alicia said...

ohh I am so sorry. I can't imagine how you are feeling, I hate that it is soo hard in our world right now for a parent to stay home with the kids. good luck with all the big descions ahead and winning that lottery!

here from iCLW

Celia said...

I wholeheartedly believe that you can do it if you want to stay home.

I am jumping in here. Feel free to write off my advice.

My DH and I have been planning on me staying home or working one day a week for years.

You need to take a look at your last three bank statements and see where your money is going.

I am also a large, large fan of Dave Ramsey's books.

I'm sorry, your blog got me excited because I LOVE tweaking our budget to save money.

What I did was figure out how much I was bringing home and work on eliminating that much in expenditures from our budget.

Anyhow I read a good thing to try.

Take a look at the budget you will use. If it works while you are on maternity leave, you can stay home.

I'm a little passionate about budgeting, sorry.


Jen said...

Yeah, that is a tough work situation. I'd say start by merging your finances and see how it goes from there. Matt and I got a joint checking account in college, before we were engaged. It was so much easier than deciding who was paying for what.


same thoughts and worries were with me. i did decide to quit after i missed several of my son's milestones. people said...you will just make it work. and we do. granted we don't have a lot of "extras" but like a wise person once told me...the only thing your son needs is you!

Stacie said...

I struggle with this, too. My paycheck is almost double my husband's, so there is no way we could do it if I stayed home.

I wish you luck with finding a way to stay home with your little one...that would be wonderful!

Here from ICLW.

Lisa said...

I've been struggling with this since I returned to work a few weeks ago. I hate only seeing the bugs in the morning and evenings. Evenings don;t really count either - since we get home at 5pm and they are in bed around 8pm. Not much time to do anything - especially if they nap at all during that time.
I also earn about 70% of our household income so we've decided that my husband will work evenings and weekends and that way we won't have the expense of day care, plus the bugs will be with either J or myself most of the time. I'd rather J see the milestones (if I'm at work) instead of our day care providers. (Just an FYI though...part of our decision was based on some issues with THE day care we use, not just about them being in day care)
Where there is a will there's a way. Take the next few months really looking at all of your options. I'm sure you'll make the decision that's right for your family.