Thursday, April 26, 2007

Decisions, decisions...

Apologies (once again) for the lack of blog posts lately. There have been a lot of things on my mind, but I felt that I needed to work some of them out on my own before writing about them. First and foremost, J and I sat down last week when I got my contract for the 2007-2008 school year and went over our budget. Surprise, surprise, we can afford for me to stay home next year.

This is what I always thought I wanted. Back when we first started trying to have a baby, one of the things we agreed on was that I'd quit my job to be a stay at home mom for at least a year or two. Back then, of course, I felt like my soul was being sucked from my eyeballs every day when I walked into the office, so the idea of quitting to be a full-time parent was very appealing. Fast forward two years, and everything is different. I love my job. I love my students, love my coworkers, and love how happy I am to go to work every day. Do I get frustrated and annoyed sometimes? Of course. Do I love my job? Yes. More than I ever thought I could. Do I still want to stay at home next year? I don't know.

Some days I feel like staying home is the only reasonable course of action. I don't want to miss minute of Button's first year of life, and it's not as if taking a year off will prevent me from going back into teaching once we're all ready for me to work again. Then I start thinking about my school and everything gets very, very complicated. I don't want to leave my school. I don't want to leave the wonderful kids I teach, don't want to leave the great friends I've made there (two of whom are also pregnant and due in the next few months), and I don't want to feel like I've spent so much time and energy getting certified just to leave a great position. Since I've only worked for the district for a year, they don't (and won't) hold my position until I want to come back. It's always possible that another English spot would open up in 2008-2009, but chances aren't great that it'll happen.

Complicating factor number two is that J works a lot. A whole lot. Life as a resident won't be much different for him (or us) than life as an intern has been. He'll still pull 80-100 hour weeks. It's going to suck whether I stay home or go back to work, and I'm not sure which decision will ultimately be best for our family and for our marriage. I worry about feeling lonely or isolated staying at home, especially since we won't have a lot of money for activities like Gymboree or music groups. Plus, all of my friends work and live on the opposite side of town. Sure, it's only a 20-25 minute drive, but I know myself too well to think that I won't feel at least a little abandoned, particularly on days when the baby just won't stop fussing.

So, I don't know. I have to make my decision soon since my contract needs to be signed by next Friday if I'm going to accept it. Signing and then quitting isn't really a viable option--the district WILL blackball me if I break a contract, and with so few districts in this area, I can't afford to lock myself out of employment with any one of them.


Esther said...

That is a tough dilemna. i was able to stay home the first 4 or 5 months w/ my first. that was good, and bad. Good as I was there, but terribly lonely while friends worked, no money for extras, spouse in law school pulling long study sessions etc,etc.
I went back to work, baby in care (and always getting sick- eartubes by 8 mos.) and that was all fine. Then when kids were a bit older I was able to stay home again when they Really needed me and i needed to do more active parenting. I am grateful for that time home- and kids were needier in a whole different way.
It's a tough choice, especially when Button is due...,when, in August? Still so little when school begins again.
Hope my input helps. But whatever you do, you'll make it all work out and it will be the right decision.

The Town Criers said...

Honestly, if it's easier to get a job than it is to break the contract, I wouldn't sign it. It's so hard to know how you'll feel until you've held your child. Some people think they want to stay at home and then realize they parent better when they're working. Others think they want to go back to work but find they can't leave the baby. You could start at home and then if you're going stir-crazy, take subbing or a mid-year replacement until the next English position opens. Just remember that no decision is permanent.

M said...

This is a tough decision! My first inclination when I read your post was...Stay home! You've waited so long to hold that little boy...stay home and hold him!

BUT I will say that it was very hard the first year I stayed home with C. J was still in school and we had no extra money for anything. It definitely added to the "stuck at home with a baby" feeling that creeps in on you on some days.

The important thing to remember is that there isn't a "right" decision. There will be good days and bad days in either choice and you will second guess yourself either way. (Hmm...that was supposed to sound more reassuring.)

Examine the community a little bit and see what kind of "support" groups are out there and what kind of activities will get you out and about on a budget. You have the good fortune of living in a place where you aren't stuck inside for 5 months of the year, with all your neighbors hibernating. You might be surprise what you can do on very little money.