Another dream comes true

by DaniGirl on October 20, 2008 · 22 comments

in Working and mothering

Around the time the boys started school in September, I started truly panicking about the idea of going back to work. It was still five months away, but I knew back-to-school season was only a quick hop to Halloween, which would start the slippery slide down to Christmas and before I knew it, February would be upon us and I’d be back at work. I was so upset about it I cried with dread when I thought about it, barely half way through my maternity leave.

I love being home with the boys. I love the chaos, I love the routine. I love picking the boys up from school. I love arguing Lucas into his four or five daily naps. I love the minutiae of daily errands in the afternoons. I love having the flexibility to know that if the laundry or the groceries don’t get done today, I’ll get to them tomorrow. Or the next day. I love preparing lunches and dinners during daylight hours. I love the feeling of killing time, of having time to kill, even if I have to kill it pacifying a fussy baby or playing endless rounds of Uno and Trouble and Wiggles Memory Game. Even when it all drives me bugshit and I’m sure I’ll lose my mind if I have to load and unload the dishwasher one more time, I still love it.

When I started thinking about it, I realized I’ve been home with the boys almost three of the past six and a half years; basically, I’ve been a stay-at-home mom half of my parenting career. It’s a hell of a hard job, but I can honestly say it’s not nearly as difficult as trying to balance a home life with a full-time day job. I know I’m out on a limb here, but I truly believe that it’s way, way harder to be working outside the home than it is to stay home full time – especially with small children at home. Being home has it’s own set of challenges, but I was sick to my stomach trying to imagine how I’d balance the mother I wanted to be, the wife I wanted to be, and the employee I knew I would be expected to be. I couldn’t reconcile them all into a single person; there just wasn’t enough to go around.

That’s why I approached my wonderful boss, who happens to also be a wonderful friend, and proposed that in February I’d return to work part-time, working four days a week instead of five. She was on board, and her boss seems to be on board, too. I checked out the ramifications (the biggest of which is the drop in salary) and figured we could make it work.

It actually took me a couple of weeks to believe it could be possible, that it could really happen. I still feel giddy about it, like I’ve won the lottery. I’ll be able to work four days, but stay home for three days. There will be one day a week I can still hang out with the other moms at the kindergarten door, waiting for the JKs to come spilling out. There will be one day every week when I don’t have to rush out the door to catch a 6:25 am bus, so I can have breakfast with the boys. There will be one day a week where Lucas and I have a few precious hours with just the two of us, so I can continue to baby him. There will be one more day when my day with the boys doesn’t begin in a mad rush to get dinner ready, with bedtime shortly behind.

Working part-time has been something I’ve been coveting since I first went back to work after my mat leave with Tristan, way back in 2003. It didn’t seem like we’d ever be able to make it work financially, and then it didn’t seem like my workplace would ever consider it. But, with fingers crossed and breath bated, the cosmic tumblers might have finally aligned in my favour on this one.

Now, when I think of going back to work, my heart is light. Instantly, I stopped dreading it and started looking forward to it. I miss my old colleagues, and there is something validating about being a respected professional. I even love the work I do. And now, like a gift, I’ll be able to have the best of both worlds. I can’t believe how lucky I am.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nadine/Scarbiedoll October 20, 2008 at 11:19 am

Dude, I am doing this and when it works it’s very rewarding. Some days one job encroaches on the other and those days kinda suck. But overall, it beats working 5 days consistently. I’m really happy for you.

2 Kate October 20, 2008 at 11:19 am

big congrats, lady! It makes life so much better when mama is happy at work.

3 sky girl October 20, 2008 at 11:24 am

Wonderful news! I’m hoping that I can make part time hours and pay work after my coming mat leave is over.

4 Chantal October 20, 2008 at 12:36 pm

I am very happy for you. What a wonderful compromise. Definitely the best of both worlds!

5 Annika October 20, 2008 at 12:45 pm

Congrats! I hear you…I also think it’s much harder to work outside of the home AND parent young children, which is why I have elected to take an additional 18 months off after my mat leave is over. I figure I’ll never get these years back with my children. Plus, I work for the government, so career-wise it taking an extra year and a half off is completely irrelevant. I’m also lucky that our financial situation allows me to step away from a pretty excellent salary for that long! The stress of having me rush out every morning and bundle up two babies just isn’t worth it. It’s so great that exmployers are becoming more attuned to the various options/arrangements needed to help balance today’s families!

I have a few friends who work just three days a week, and they love the balance. I look forward to hearing how working four days will work for you. It will probably help you keep on top of the running of the household so those four days at work won’t be too overwhelming. Best of luck.

6 Fawn October 20, 2008 at 1:17 pm

Yay, Dani! That’s great! I completely agree with you that being a full-time stay-at-home mom would be easier, despite the challenges, than working full-time and trying to be a good mom, even though there are days where the daycare is a godsend! I’ve been thinking of writing a blog post about it, but I’m afraid I’ll get lynched by the SAHMs out there. 😛

I went back to work 4 days a week after I finished my mat leave with Jade. It was originally a one-year arrangement, but I never went back. It’s amazing what that extra day does to keep things in balance.

I’m so excited for you!

7 Kristina October 20, 2008 at 2:13 pm

Oh that is so fantastic! Hooray, I’m so glad for you!

8 alison October 20, 2008 at 2:37 pm

I’d love to do that. I’m glad it worked out for you!

9 chichimama October 20, 2008 at 5:46 pm

Congrats!!!!! I am so happy for you and your family!

10 jennifer r. October 20, 2008 at 6:14 pm

There is no better decision that I have made as a wife and mom than to work part-time….I hope it works out:)
Jennifer R.

11 Kerry October 20, 2008 at 6:15 pm

You’re pretty cute, Dani. S’all I’m saying.

12 anita kaiser October 20, 2008 at 6:36 pm

Thats such wonderful news! I’m just thrilled for ya!

13 Phantom Scribbler October 20, 2008 at 7:43 pm

This made me smile and smile. I’m so pleased for you, Dani!

14 Marianne October 20, 2008 at 9:00 pm

How wonderful! I am thrilled for you, and also jealous. I have been back at work for 2 months now, and my little one is starting daycare tomorrow (part-time this week, in preparation for dad going back to work next week). I absolutely hate being a working mom. I like my job and the people I work with, but I would much rather be home with my child, all the time or part-time.
The only thing helping me now is that we are hoping to start trying for baby number and when (if?) that child arrives, I’ll be taking advantage of the opportunity for me to take a one-time leave from my job for up to 5 years so I’ll be able to be home until they’re both in school. We’re lucky that we’ll be in a position by then to afford it, as long as we economise.

15 Mac and Cheese October 20, 2008 at 9:05 pm

Sounds perfect for you. Congrats!

16 Renee October 20, 2008 at 10:43 pm

That is so wonderful, Dani! It’s what I would love to do, but I fear it will never happen. Good for you!

17 Susan October 21, 2008 at 10:45 am

Congrats on making this work for you and your family! And thank you for writing this post and acknowledging that working and having small kids is damn hard–harder than staying at home full-time. I have always believed it, but it seems as if we working moms are not allowed to say it out loud.

18 Meghan October 21, 2008 at 11:08 am

Great now you will have more time for the BLOG! Seriously that is a great arrangement cling to it for as long as you can-even when they are all in school.

19 Sharon October 21, 2008 at 1:13 pm

YEAH! Sounds awesome!

20 Batman October 21, 2008 at 4:56 pm

Congrats. What a wonderful employer.

21 cinnamon gurl October 22, 2008 at 4:58 pm

Congratulations!!! I started back to work at three days a week, but I found it hard to do the really interesting projects at work. Now I’m at four days a week, and it’s perfect. From a work perspective the day off is a total non-issue and having that one day to slow down and stop catch our breaths is wonderful — worth every penny.

22 kimberly October 23, 2008 at 7:32 am

Fantastic! I’ve been working similarly for the past 2 years and it’s great.

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