This being an adult thing is complicated. Today we went to another meeting about something that none of us wanted to hear about during our only free “lunch” hour of the day. And with a stack of new papers on updated policy, all of us employees felt one more life-fulfillment settle in. This meeting did have some value in that it stirred up a conversation with a fellow employee regarding family priorities. It was interesting to hear the experience of a mom of three kids (6, 4 and 9 months) who had been fired from a job prior to this one.
She carried on about the struggles of being the full-time employee in a household where a husband is about to lose his job. She talked of the years of sacrifice and struggle to find child-care as well as her faded and lost desire to be a stay-at-home mom. “We could live off of one salary,” she explained, “But right now it looks like mine.”
And this conversation opened up a whole world of thoughts as she spoke of all her friends being stay-at-home moms. She spoke of the value of private schools in socializing children. She spoke of the value in switching from her old 60hour per week job to this 40ish hour per week job. She spoke of the joy of offering her children herself after a day’s work instead of a tired mom who is swamped with paperwork. But she also spoke in regret at missing parts of her children’s lives.
It’s kind of sad that life requires the trade of job for family so many times. It’s one of my greatest struggles, which according to a dear friend will only become more and more of a struggle. There are good employment moves; from 60 hour jobs to 40 hour jobs with higher pay. And there are good family employment moves; from full-time to part-time in order to see your family more. But through this conversation we both resounded on the same chord: three years old only happens once and you’re either there for their discovery or you miss it.
I wonder what sacrifice my family will take due to my past education. If it weren’t for school debt, our finances and current lives would look much different. Yes, it’s the hand I chose to be dealt. There are just times that I wonder if I would have chose that hand knowing that it would greatly impact the little one within. Knowing that it would greatly impact the amount of time I can see them…. And watch them grow…
Choices I make today, choices we make today will affect the amount of time I have to give this little one. But part of me longs for the poverty of my childhood… because at least mom was there constantly. Oh I’m sure she had her regrets and her “I wish I could give you this” moments in which finances were so strapped that birthday presents and Christmases weren’t quite what they had dreamed. But she had herself to give… and she knew it was the greatest gift she could give us.
But who knows… maybe some day Matt and I will be able to make our cake and eat it too. Until then we get to keep fighting the fight of every full-time mom or dad, wife or husband; balance. It’s a “balance” that leans in the weight of our family, but doesn’t topple our job.