Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Big Decisions

I recently tweeted that I'm currently in the process of big decision making about starting a family, my career path, buying a house, and getting a dog. Easy, right?

Apparently not.

I have spent pieces of the last several days close to, or in, tears. I have questioned my value, my purpose, my abilities, and my sanity. Donald doesn't quite know what to do with me, besides lots and lots of hugs and conversations (although I think his gut tells him to stay at least 10 feet away when the crazy starts flying).

I want a baby, more than anything. Donald does too. We are so excited to be on the same page with this, finally ready to jump off this ledge together, ready to change our lives completely and forever. This is monumental and wonderful and terrifying and emotional.

I mean, I sat in front of my husband, eye to eye, staring at our future full on, and told him it was time. I've been waiting to do that for years and it happened, it's here, it's now!

However, even though my mom reminds me to try not to be too rational about this decision, Donald and I still want to make sure that we're making this choice with responsibility and consequences in mind.

For example, we want to buy a house in the next year or so. Given that our financial situation has been under some stress in the past few years, this means that we'd like to be saving up as much as we can between now and then to put towards a down payment on a house. This is exciting, too! It does mean, however, that a baby potentially shortens the timeline during which I can be contributing to this worthy cause. That, and the fact that I am currently unemployed.

Therefore, I've been earnestly job searching this week. I'm still hoping that a group I volunteer with can hire me, but just in case that doesn't come through, I need to have a backup plan. I'm finding that backup plan probably also means a job that doesn't bring me happiness. I'm struggling with this, a lot, especially because I swore to myself that my next job would be doing something I really want to do.

And I still haven't quite figured out what that is. Besides, you know, being a mom. They don't seem to pay you to do that around here. If any of you have figured out how to make that work, call me!

So I peruse the ads and websites looking for something that pays more than minimum wage, won't turn me down because I'm overqualified, and won't make me cry or want to throw up from the compromises I'm continuing to make in my career, forever doomed to make no difference in the world at all unless I can somehow manage to birth an army of do-gooders who will save the world where I have failed.

<deep breath>

Donald convinced me last night that this is not, in fact, my last chance to make a difference in the world, whether our children are all that we hope for or not. He knows me too well. He knows that I will always be involved in things in my community, stirring things up, asking hard questions, pushing for better ways of doing things. He knows that I will always be involved in volunteering and charity work. He also reminded me that I will not be the slave of my children, that they will go to school and take naps and otherwise do things that will leave me with some free time to do for me and my community.

If you're a mom, please stop laughing and feel free to chime in here and relieve me of my terrible naivete about what it's really like to be a stay-at-home mother of one or more children.

The point is, this should be a tough decision. The struggle for women between children and careers is ongoing. While I'm very happy to have a choice about leaving the paid workforce and staying home or returning to the workforce and placing my children in daycare, it is not an easy choice to make. I would love to hear about your experiences and difficult choices along these lines. I know that our decision will be unique for us, as it was for each of you, but knowing that other women have managed to make their decisions and lead happy and productive lives would bring me some peace of mind.

Oh, how does the dog fit in, you ask? Well, we'd prefer for one of us to be home for a new dog, for training and care purposes. So if I can find a job that allows me to work from home, that problem is solved. The other piece of this, however, is that getting a dog and having a baby in close proximity sounds a little like having two babies around the same time and since this would be my first human child and my first canine child, I'm not overly enthusiastic about doing two very different, very new things at the same time.

I did start volunteering with my local no-kill animal shelter though, so perhaps the right dog will find its way into our lives in spite of our plans and rationality. I have to have faith that what will be will be and that in the end, our plans don't mean that we have any control over what might happen.

I'll also try not to cry.


  1. I'm not a mom, so I don't have any of that insight, though I would gladly ask my own mom if you want. One of my bloggy friends, Honey B, writes a blog about her baby bucket list - all the things she and her husband want in place before they have a baby. She was recently questioning how much of this planning and choreography was necessary.

    Not much, really, in my opinion. All I want is a healthy body and for Gary to have found a career (other than the Reserves) and I'll be ready. Millions of families raise wonderful children in conditions most of us would reject. Our standard of living and social expectations are wildly different from the rest of the world and I think the pressure to have these things 'in place' delays us from so many wonderful experiences.

    I think that if our mothers had waited for ideal circumstances to have us, we'd have never been born.

  2. Hi Daphne .. not having kids .. I suppose a minor 'warning' kids might not come .. they haven't in our family - but if you get a dog, the kid will come along, and if you get a house, and a dog, the kid will be already there!!

    So you's takes your choices .. first come first serve? Dog looks more likely - less of a time frame!

    Sometimes renting can be a blessing .. you can save, without worrying about the maintenance of house and garden etc ..

    It's wonderful that Donald is so supportive .. lucky girl .. go with the flow -

    be positive and love life .. all will be well - hugs Hilary

  3. Kate - A very good point about never having enough money to have children. My mom has warned me about this, too. I hadn't even thought about a baby bucket list - I have a feeling that would slow me down rather than help me. I'm definitely working on the healthy body aspect (getting into a workout routine and eating well). It is so easy to believe that what we have right now is not good enough for this tiny being who won't really notice anything around them for quite some time. And they certainly won't remember whether they slept in an expensive bed or a shoebox. What matters is that they are loved and safe and fed and clothed. Thank you for your input.

    Hilary - Thank you for the reminder that the ability to have children is not one to take for granted. Donald and I are very in touch with this reality, especially since so many of our friends have had trouble conceiving. We're definitely weighing a lot of options right now. Thank you for the support!


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