Sunday, November 25, 2007

I know this has been a hotly debated topic in some circles, but as the deadline of the departure from my job grows nearer, I have been thinking about the dilemma many moms face these days--whether to work outside the home or stay at home with the kids. I have done both, and it certainly gets harder with each child. I loved teaching, but when I had my son, I was ready to stay home and grow a family. For the first 3 years I continued teaching and taking care of the family. With DH in graduate school, I had a lot on my plate, but I was able to do it reasonably. Then came the RA, sucking the energy right out of every cell in my body. Then came my daughter. At this point I gave up the job and in no time we were living on the poverty line until DH finished the Ph.D. and got his first professorship.

I've been writing and editing from home for the past 6 years and doing my best to take care of the home and family. I enjoy all of this. But of course there's the financial cost--no measurable second income. I went back to work to give my kids a better education (private school tuition--whew!). But, as a friend put it so well, the stress of it all has awakened the sleeping giant (RA) and I just can't continue. If I work, I have nothing left for my family at the end of the day, and I mean nothing.

But even without the disease, it's a hard choice to stay at home or go to work. I have always been a worker. I know it's not the same for everyone, but I always felt I had to work to be worth anything. Yes, this statement would offend many people. Blame it on my rotten childhood.

But now I see what a huge impact I have on my family. If I'm unhappy or stressed or exhausted, the whole family really suffers. (We won't even talk about the 6-foot dust bunnies crouching under the furniture!) This family needs me to hold it together, especially now. I just wish I could do it all--work and contribute some income and manage the house and the emotional needs of my family. But I can't. I am choosing to be that mom who can drop everything and run to collect a sick child at school or race around to this appointment or that one or just be available to bring the snack in on Tuesday. (as long as my own health cooperates, anyway.)

My writing feeds my soul, and I've been starving since I went back to teaching. Taking care of my family fills my heart, and I haven't been able to do that since I started teaching. It's interesting that we have to weigh everything with a completely different set of scales when we become parents. I love being a mom. I love writing. I love teaching. I can't do it all.

I guess I'm just thinking out loud, here. It's just interesting that I long for those things that my mother so freely abandonned. She didn't want to take us to the doctor or come to our basketball games or cook deeply satisfying meals. She had a career that she clearly chose first. If that sounds bitter, it is. But my choice is about more than doing a better job than my mother. It's about doing the job, period. Being a mom is a huge career, full of meetings and schedules and presentations and negotiations. How can anyone be expected to do all of that in two different place--at home and at the office?

Some people can, and at one point I was able to do it pretty well. But other factors have now forced me to truly make a choice. And I've made it. With a full and glad heart, I have chosen my path.


  1. Are there any type of writing jobs you can do at home - freelance type things that can help supplement your income? Write some articles for newspapers or magazines? I'm thinking with your RA you have something to contribute to the medical writing world. Don't give up completely. There are plenty of jobs you can do at home that allow you the flexibility of still being a mom. Too bad you don't have some medical background - I could get you a job working at home as a medical transcriptionist - but eventually something will show up that is perfect for you, your family and your medical illness and your writing desire - E :)

  2. That's funny that you mention medical transcription. I did some a long time ago, though I was never certified for it. I just learned on the job, so I don't know that I have the credentials docs would be looking for. I'm sure I could do it, though.

    Magazine/newspaper work is a little hard to come by around here. But the good news is that Blooming Tree Press has asked for a full MS in their recent open submission period. YAY! Who knows...?

    It won't pay any big bills, not yet anyway, but it would be tremendously satisfying.

  3. YAY for you! The best thing for each of us is to follow our hearts....that is where God lives!


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