I recently finished Sheryl Sandberg’s feminist manifesto Lean In. Ever since I started my maternity leave I’ve been feeling guilty about not working. I’ve had a job since I was 16 years old and being at home has been difficult for me. My husband recently called me a “stay at home mom” and my jaw hit the floor. I responded, “I’m not a stay at home mom…. I’m just on leave.” So I thought reading this book would give me a bit of perspective and advice on how to balance my career aspirations with a new baby. After finishing the book I was left feeling more conflicted than ever.
First, I can not relate to Sandberg. She has more resources than I could ever dream of. I can’t commute via private jet, hire personal nannies, or even afford a basic daycare! My job doesn’t come with a large salary and never will.
Second, I have a hard time justifying choosing my career over time with my child. I don’t make much #teacherprobs and most of my paycheck would go to daycare costs. Also, being a head start teacher I’m literally paid to nurture and teach other people’s young children. So why would I get paid to do this while I’m paying someone else to nurture and teach my child? I can’t justify this decision.
I’m not against working moms. I often find myself browsing job postings. I miss working! Being a teacher was such a large part of my identity. I think it’s a unique field where it’s not just a job. Especially teaching inner city, I feel like there’s a hole where I left and I’m not sure if other teachers are willing to fill that space.
So do I lean into my career? Right now the answer is no. After our experience trying to conceive I’m not sure if we will ever have another child. I’ve accepted that. That also means I need to cherish these little moments and soak up as much as I can of my son’s baby days. I have my whole life to work. My son will only be a baby for so long. I’m planning on returning to the classroom when my son starts preschool.
This is a very personal decision for every mom. I’m not advocating for one choice or another, just the choice that works for you. Right now, I’m leaning into my family.