I always knew that I would want to stay home with my baby. I remember — in my pre-baby days — wondering how my co-workers could spend so much time away from their young children? They’d check in every few hours with day care or, if they were lucky, a nanny, and rush home to at least try to spend a meal and some bedtime together with their kids.
I vowed (rather judgmentally) that I would never dump my child on someone else. Instead, I’d stay home with my child, maybe even take on some freelance work. That would be ideal. I’ve always loved to write, so I imagined myself raising my baby while still being able to write from home and have an income. I’d finally have the time to do things I really wanted to do, too — like organizing my photos into scrapbooks, teaching myself how to bake and running with the dog in the mornings. My home would be immaculate, I’d make dinner every night and, most of all, I’d be the one caring for my child.
The only problem with this picture is that none of the above has happened (yet), aside from taking care of my child, of course. The other problem with this picture is that while I’m daydreaming of domestic bliss, there are bills to pay and a college education I must plan for (not to mention, I should pay mine off as well). Unfortunately, my financial responsibilities are not of the freelance variety. No, they’re definitely full-time!
The truth is, in any capacity, all parents are “working.” Nothing insults a stay-at-home parent more than assuming that she has all the time in the world to do whatever she wants, and I bet if you told a working parent that she has it easier (with catching a break from the kids and domestic chores and all) she would highly disagree. Being at home with a child is a lot of work. It has humbled me beyond my imagination. There are days when being at home really is blissful, and then the other half of the time I question myself, like any other parent. I find myself thinking, “Am I doing the right thing?” and, “Is it possible to ever have a clean house again?”
For me, the decision has not been easy. It’s one I struggle with every day. Working from home seems to provide a balance, but it doesn’t come without its own set of challenges. I understand now why so many parents, mothers especially, leave the workforce to raise their kids. It’s a crucial time that you truly never get back. On the other hand, work gives us a chance to develop our skills and builds our confidence — and those are qualities any parent would want to exemplify for her children’s benefit. So how do you decide what’s right?
I can assure any parent that — no matter what you decide — you will always have doubts. In many cases, there are no clear answers. You do what’s best for your family and trust in your decision. No one parent has it easier over the other.