Parenting While Working

Sometimes I give myself a hard time about not being the kind of mom who is dying to stay at home, but can't.  I love Baby X to pieces, and I'm so happy he's part of our family, but to spend every waking moment tending to his needs?  Fuggetaboutit.

I subscribe to the village concept.  Baby X goes to full-time daycare where they do more activities with him than I would ever dream up.  I am not the best teacher for for kids, and I can recognize that trait in my personality.  He's an outgoing and social kid, and inquisitive about everything around him.  The best thing I can do for him is to seek out the people who really know how to tap into the mind of a 2-year old and fill it with information.  Besides, they are so much more patient than me.

Granted, there are times that I think about working part time, but that would bring career advancement to a halt.  Career advancement is important to me.  I spent a grand total of 8 years in school, and took two 8-hour exams to get to where I am today.  Now that I've finally worked through frustration of practically being forced to become an engineer, and embraced the career path I chose, I'm ready to take it as far as I can.  I have opportunity for advancement, and the shifts that are going on right now in my workplace and in my industry as a whole are positioning me to become a senior-level engineer very quickly.  The Baby Boomers are retiring, and Gen X is taking over.  I'm a young Gen X, but I can see it coming, and I didn't necessarily see that a few years ago when I started my job.

Maybe I'll feel differently when the second baby comes along, and who knows, I may have to pull back on the work in order to juggle it all.  In my ideal world, S would be the one to cut hours, because he's at the point in his career where he's found a role he's content to play and he's not looking to run the company some day.  Which is great for us because if we were both looking to advance, it would probably be harder to navigate what's going to be some major logistical challenges when our family expands.

What's not great for us, is that it's still very much a man's world in the engineering industry, and for him to cut hours would be unusual at his place of work.  They even thought it was weird when he took the 12 weeks of FMLA.  It cracks me up that his company pretends to be family friendly, but in practice they are not.  On the other hand, he's been able to be pretty flexible over the last year without repercussion, so maybe it's working out better than I realize.

I want it all, just like my mom told me I could have it.  I want the full time job with advancement, to stay involved with school activities and sports and whatever other activities my kids go into, I want to ski every other weekend in the winter, I want to teach Jazz.ercise, and I want to have a social life.  Too bad our mothers didn't realize that by instilling the idea that we can do it all, that they were imposing stratospheric expectations and setting us up for failure.

So, I guess the lesson is to change the expectations.  Bring them down from stratosphere to the exosphere, and realize that in every area of life, be it parenting, working or social, something will have to give.  My hope is that instead of completely giving up on one area in order to focus on another area, that we can figure out how to give a little in every area, and be ok with that.