A very good friend of mine recently asked me whether I would work if I didn’t have to (you know, to make money and live and stuff).
To me, that question is sort of like “What would you do if you won the lottery tomorrow?” I know how to answer that one: I’d quit, have a mansion with servants (like that episode of Family Guy where Peter sings “This House Is Frickin’ Sweet”), travel the world and live a fabulous life of leisure. Oh, and create a foundation to help make the world a better place.
But back to my friend’s actual question. I think at this point in my life, I’d say yes, I’d still work–just not full-time. I’d dip my toe in the world of getting-paid-to-write just enough to keep things interesting, feel productive, and maintain my skills and network. That way, after the kids are older and more annoyed by me, I could go back to a fuller-time gig no problem.
After we talked about this issue, I offered my friend the chance to write a guest post for WMAG, which she accepted on the condition of anonymity. So here it is, my anonymous friend’s dilemma:
I’m going to keep this short and sweet because, well, I’m a new mom and don’t have time for anything else! I’m sure you understand.
I had my first child this summer. I am scheduled to return to work shortly. I am in the process of looking for child care for him, preferable in our home. A generous family member recently told me that I don’t “have” to work—that I would be taken care of if I didn’t. I did not hesitate when I said that I wanted to go back to work. That was at a time when the stresses of all-day child care seemed worse than the stresses at my job. I love my job.
But a couple of weeks have passed, and I have to give my decision a second thought. There was another reason for turning down the offer. I think a working mom is a good model for a son to grow up with. I don’t want him to see me as “just” a homemaker (something at which I don’t think I’m particularly good). I want him to respect his father and me as equals in every way, including as parents and as professionals. My job is very unique and it is unlikely that I could return to it after taking, say, a year off. It is now or never.
So my question to you WMAG readers is: Would you work if you didn’t “have” to financially? For moms with older children: Do you regret not staying home with your children when they were young? Do you feel that you missed out on precious time that you cannot recapture?