I wouldn’t say my career defined me, but it provided me the feeling of safety and security. Something I always strived for. I couldn’t imagine ever letting it go and jumping into the unknown. But, you do crazy things when you start to see your value and see where you are not meant to be.
I’ve never been a 50%-er, I’m very much a dedicate 100% and run myself into the ground in the process. That’s exactly what I did. I committed and committed in hopes of soaring. Eventually reality set in, I’m fighting so hard, struggling so much, to just be the last kid picked in dodgeball. Sure, you need that kid, but if you could get by without them… why not?
In the pit of my stomach I constantly swallowed back down the ache of never feeling like enough. Never feeling like a person of value in the workforce. It’s sad how corporate favors the bottom line and not the invested employees. The only ones who see the difference are the ones who do not have the power to change any of it. It sucks for the bottom line but up the chain they don’t even know you exist. Why am I dedicating myself to this? What is it all for? I asked myself many of these types of questions on a daily basis and one day I realized something.
I can invest all of my knowledge, heart, patience, dedication into raising my son to be different than this. If I dedicate myself to him and his upbringing, he has a pretty good shot at changing something in this world.
I could continue to spend 50 hours a week away from him, or I could sacrifice my little remaining money, cut back on expenses, and soak up every moment of his childhood. I could be there. I could make a difference. To me, that’s dedicating myself to the future and not living in the moment of monetary gain.
These are priceless moments in the most important time of his life and I could hand him off to someone else and continue my career, or I could change careers and dedicate myself to him.
Frankly, it’s disgusting that there has to be a choice. Our parental leave laws in the United States are disgraceful. Companies who offer zero maternity pay, let your insurance bill pile up and confiscate your paychecks when you return, are a HUGE part of the problem. Women make up an incredible amount of the workforce now and there are no respectful protections for them. You are made to choose between sending your two or three month old baby to a facility or not returning to work and grabbing onto that poverty line. Disgusting. Look into some laws in neighboring countries, extended leave with job security, 60% of original pay throughout, affordable healthcare. Yet we feel we’re the best country because of facts that don’t matter to the average family fighting for survival.
Follow all of that up with the stigma women get when they choose their child over their career. Can you see the side eye glances when you say you stay at home with your baby? The eye rolls. Like it’s a cake walk, we stay in our pajamas and eat snacks all day, wrecking the house and living our best life. Nope. It is a 24 hour per day job. No lunch breaks, no time off, no vacation days, no sick days. You’re it. You are responsible for everything 100% of the time. But, that’s supposedly easier than hanging out at a desk doing “real” work.
Get. Out. Of. Here.
It was hands down the most difficult transition of my life considering I was giving up what I fought so long to obtain. But to me, if I am going to provide our son with the best chance at being the best he can be, I need to be everything my parents were not. Invested. I have spent hours upon hours researching child development, emotions, leaps, milestones, you name it. If I never do anything else right in my life, you can bet my son will never wonder where he ranks in my heart. He will never second guess his worth in my eyes. For as long as I can, I will provide him safety, security, encouragement, mental support.
This is how we change things, we take our hands out of the money bags of corporate corruption and turn around to face your family and give them your whole heart. Invest those hours you’d spend doing overtime for a company that doesn’t even know you exist to building your children up before you send them off into the world to become the next generation of leaders. Then, maybe, we’ll experience less greed, less money hungry executives, and more genuine partnerships.
If you’re reading this and ready to go off on me because you love your job, can’t afford to quit your job, love your children but love that they go to daycare. That’s fine. You’re just as entitled to your position on this as I am.
I will say… Through great sacrifice there is always a way to make it by if you place your heart above your material way of life.
You can most certainly work your job and love your children. But what got to me was, I only saw him maybe half an hour in the morning and evenings between wake up and bedtime. I missed his entire day. Every day. Besides weekends of course, when you want to decompress from your day job and the children get what energy you have leftover from committing 100% of yourself to your career.
How did my thoughts change? He will only be this young for a short amount of time. The first five years of his life strongly dictate the type of person he becomes. They dictate his emotional abilities, his confidence, security, chances of struggling later on. The better those first five years of life, the better the rest of their lives. If you don’t agree, don’t believe, please research it. So, do I continue on my career for the benefit of *maybe* but probably not, climbing that corporate ladder and making the big bucks? Or do I hop off my little step stool and sit on the ground next to my baby and sing silly songs until my eyes cross?
Do I go to bed every night with the weight of the next work day ahead of me, or do I go to bed in peace knowing if my child has a tough night of sleep, I can be present and responsive knowing I am not going to be half asleep trying to run work duties tomorrow?
This may be entirely bias based on my (obvious) decision but this is the real discussion I feel needs to be had. Sit down and be honest with yourself.
What are you fighting for? Those once a year family vacations where you realize you don’t know how 80% of your child’s day operates? Well, I guess with daycare keeping you up to date you have a rough idea but man is it overwhelming when suddenly it’s all you.
Who will be there if your job goes out of business? Makes cut backs? What was all that fight for?
Your child will never close up shop and decide they don’t need your services anymore. They won’t fire you because you didn’t hit your sales or loan goals. They won’t take away your pay raise because you made an error.
Nope, they’ll love you anyway (most of the time). And when they’re grown and they think back on their childhood, are they going to remember their favorite daycare teacher or reminisce on all of the days with their parent?
Yes, it’s terrifying being without that extra bit of income, but where there’s a will, there’s a way.
I have a feeling I’ll get many mixed feelings back about what I have written here and this is not to target anyone or make you feel like you are not a worthy parent. We all do the best we can all the time and sometimes it just makes the most sense to keep working. That’s okay. However you provide the best life for your child is fine. But if you are currently teetering between what should I do, the work or home fight, I urge you to contemplate some of what I wrote and see if any of it speaks back to you.