“Need to go and get his hair cut…” I made a mental note as I run my fingers through his now obviously long hair.
“But why Mommy?”
“Oh no, I missed a question…” I inhale and look at him deeply. “Why what? Sorry I was just thinking you need a haircut soon.”
“But why you have to go back to work?”
Sigh…I tried to compose myself even as his messy hair is still between my fingers.
“Because I have to make a living so I can pay for your school. So you could do after school activities…” and so I can add you to a health insurance coverage (I added this bit in my head).
“Will you work out of town?”
“No, Pumpkin. I will find something here.”
“Ok…” he hugged me and I hugged him back tightly and told him I only ask that he study well in school and he behave well.
“You know I love you and I will always be there for you, right?”
“I love you Mommy…” and in the dimmed room I wiped my tears.
The memory of his teacher’s reactions when I told her last year that I will be moving to Bali to pursue a career flashed before me. Back then, she told me that my son’s behavior in school has improved so much ever since I quit working. She was worried.
And for the past few days I’ve been weighing all my options.
Working from home through my writing is sadly not enough to cover everything we need, my son and I. Being a single mother, I am the sole breadwinner, and I have realized for months now how behind I am on getting his needs met. New school uniforms…thanks to my parents, that and my son has a brand new sturdy backpack for school this year from them.
I was content working from home. I get to spend more time with my son; I am home when he gets home from school. We are happier. I didn’t have to get up around dawn to beat morning traffic. I am a happier single mother.
So, I have decided to put my contentment aside, dust up my resume and started sending them out today. Hoping my old field of career will have an opening somewhere, somehow. He will be fine, I keep telling myself. My son understands that I need to do this not just for the obvious financial reasons but also to help me feel better about being productive again.
How do you prepare your kid(s) when you go back to work full time? Any advice?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Maureen from Scoops of Joy in Indonesia.
“From Technicals to Tummy Time: Inside My Decision to be a Stay-At-Home Mom”
Rebels, instability, armored vehicles, curfew, and no-go zones. Four short years ago, those words dominated my daily life. Fast forward to today and it’s diapers, infant Tylenol, Boogie Wipes, potty training, and “Dinosaur Train.” I think we can call that a pretty significant life change. Was it one that I saw coming? Not at all.
My husband and I always knew that we wanted to have children – definitely two and probably more. We were excited about traveling the world with them, raising them abroad, and teaching them about the importance of being open, understanding, and tolerant of other cultures. Our Foreign Service lifestyle was perfect for this. At the time I became pregnant with my first, we had already lived in Africa, Asia, South America, North America, Australia, and the Middle East. We were looking forward to the adventures that lay ahead with a family in tow. We could have a family, continue our careers, and introduce our children to so much of the world.
All the while, I could remain doing the very unique and powerful work that had defined not only my career, but me as a person. My role included participating in demining campaigns along the Mozambique-Tanzania border, serving as an independent observer in Mozambique’s local and national elections, barring Venezuelan drug dealers from entry into the United States, visiting and speaking with rebel groups and refugees in Darfur, Sudan, and being baffled – ad nauseam – by the lack of progress in U.S.-China climate negotiations.
I never thought much about leaving my career to be a stay-at-home mom. Before I was pregnant, a distant family member lambasted me for entertaining the idea I might continue my career after children came along – a judgment which deeply offended me (and still does). Working as a U.S. diplomat, and perhaps becoming an ambassador, is always what I had wanted to do. I didn’t believe working full-time and being a mom were mutually exclusive (and for the record, I still don’t).
My dad – a captain for Pan American Airways – and my mom – a flight attendant for National Airlines – continued to work after I was born for several years, carefully arranging their schedules so that one of them could be at home with me while the other was away. Why could my husband and I not continue our careers in the Service, alternating times we might need to work late to accommodate receptions and presidential visits, and raise our family in the way we wanted to? We could. So it was with that mindset I worked until the day I delivered my first baby. In the final weeks before delivery I worked until midnight, defining U.S. South China Sea policy – assured that I would be back to work after the standard three-month maternity leave period ended.
However, after the birth of our son, something changed for me – something visceral; something very basic. Once I held our baby in my arms, it became clear to me that no visits to U.S.-funded rural hospitals, Darfur peace negotiations, or U.S.-China strategic dialogues could convince me to be away from him.
While I had loved my job, my calling in life had changed to raising him – and other children we might have – in the best way that I could, making myself available to him as often as I could. I had changed my mind; my whole outlook on my career, and pretty much – life. I resigned from the U.S. Foreign Service and became a stay-at-home mom.
My husband and I were extremely happy with the decision, but there were many others that weren’t. My own dad called me a quitter and repeatedly voiced his “disappointment” with my decision. “I thought you’d be an Ambassador,” he said. At work, others tried to call my bluff. Why would I quit my career with the seniority I had accrued? That wouldn’t make any sense, right?
I write this not to judge others for their decision to continue to work after the birth of a baby – only to share my story.
I, so dedicated to work and ambitious in my career goals, chose to walk away from it all after our son was born. It was a decision that shocked me. It was not something I saw coming – not even at 39.5 weeks pregnant; yet, this was something that was crystal clear when I became a mother. I realize how important it is for parents to make their own decisions about work/life balance. Many moms, several of my closest friends included, feel the need to balance work and parenthood equally. I admire them for the ability to juggle both so beautifully and successfully. I also realize that many families cannot afford for one parent to choose to stay at home. To those families, I have the utmost respect, because I can only begin to understand how hard it might be to want to stay at home with your children, but not be able to do so.
Parenthood, motherhood, fatherhood – they change you. You might choose to remain in your same working pattern, but you will have become a more sensitive soul. You might decide that a Saturday trip to the park is far more enjoyable than dining at your favorite brunch spot. And you will begin to cherish sleep more than you ever thought possible. Welcoming a baby into your life is powerfully transformative. Things you never gave a moment’s thought to before become incredibly important – and may even change your path, and that of your children.
So, what changed for you?
Loren Braunohler and her family moved to Bangkok in November 2010. A former U.S.diplomat who served in Mozambique, Venezuela, Sudan, Washington DC, and Thailand, Loren resigned from the U.S. Foreign Service in July 2011 to be a full-time mom to son Logan, now age three and daughter Katelyn, age fourteen months. When parenting permits, Loren is a freelance journalist and regularly contributes to Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia, CNN Travel, and Bangkok Mothers and Babies International Magazine, among others, and guests blogs for premier parenting websites such as World Moms Blog. In 2012, Loren started Toddle Joy, an online blog and resource for expat parents of young children who are new to Thailand and the region.
Samples of Loren’s work are available on her website www.toddlejoy.com. Photo credit to the author.
So here I am, on vacation with my family (down at the Jersey Shore for those of you familiar with the awful TV show with the same name), enjoying, or supposed to be enjoying, the beach.
We were lucky enough to be able to find an apartment for rent, which is right next to the beach. This is so convenient, since we don’t have to worry about eating out every single meal while on vacation (which as you moms know, is not as healthy as preparing the food at home). It’s also convenient for when the little ones are tired, and we can just call it a day and walk up to our apartment.
The problem is, I find that I am spending more time in this apartment than on the beach, usually with one, if not both, of my children. In fact the only “alone time” I have had since we arrived, is a two-block walk to buy some bread for lunch the other day. (more…)
In 2001, the federal Parental Benefits Program in Canada increased the length of sharable paid parental leave benefits from 10 to 35 weeks, combined with 15 weeks of maternity leave.
My children were born in 1997 and 1999; I did not plan to have anymore children. I figured words like “parental leave” and “maternity benefits” were not a part of my future, or so, I thought.
In the September edition of Canadian Business magazine Jasmine Budak wrote an interesting article about the ”dark side” of maternity leave, here, in Canada. In it, Budak highlights some of the difficulties that (more…)
In Norway we have a choice between 46 weeks (with 100% pay) or 56 weeks (with 80% pay) parental leave. Six weeks are reserved for the mother, 10 weeks reserved for the father (plus the 2 weeks off they get at the time of the birth), and the rest can be shared. Next year, the fathers 10 weeks will be increased to 12 weeks.
Some fathers, however, feel that they are not able to take this leave, but this very much depends on the type of work he has, e.g. somebody who is paid on commission can hardly afford to take 10 weeks off. Or, for somebody who is running their own company, it might be difficult to take so much time out.
The mother does not have the “luxury” to decide whether or not she can afford to take maternity leave, as she kind of has to take at least some time off, and traditionally it is expected that the takes most of the leave. (more…)