|Stock Ultrasound Image (not mine)|
But here's the thing: we've only got about eight more weeks before the baby comes. It's time to quit stressing about the pregnancy and birth part, and start thinking about what's going to happen after the baby gets here!
Good and Bad
If only we knew what to expect! Back in the '50s, you only ever heard of the beautiful and exciting side of having a baby. Moms stayed home, raised their children perfectly, and still baked a pie a week.
(Note that families were also perfectly able to sustain themselves on one salary back then. With student loan payments as much as your rent or mortgage, two-income families are almost a necessity now.)
Nowadays, the pendulum seems to have swung the other way: you only ever hear about the terrible side of raising children: the sleepless nights, the ceaseless crying, the thankless days of drudgery. I think there are more negative child-raising experiences on the internet than positive ones -- or at least, that's what it seems like. Talking with friends about their child-raising experiences have caused some shivers to go down my back!
I'm sure this backlash is in retaliation to the "everything's rosy" picture that mothers have had to hold up over the years. Raising children is not all sweet, and there are definitely times when you wish you could return to your pre-kid existence. But is it really all bad? It can't be, can it? Otherwise, why would anyone keep having them?
(Seasoned mothers can insert here, "Oh, Jaimie, Jaimie, Jaimie, you have no idea . . . " You're right. I don't.)
Work or Stay Home?
There's also the ever-present dialogue in the back of my mind: what happens after my allotted 12-week maternity leave is over? Do I go back to work or stay home with the baby? I know I'm lucky even to be able to consider the possibility of being a full-time mom. So many women don't have that luxury.
If I go back to work (my only option is returning full-time; there aren't any open part-time positions now), I'll:
- pay someone to watch the baby for nine hours a day, which will essentially cut my salary in half
- pump at work every couple of hours and maintain a stash of bottles
- come to work sleepy those days he's up all night
- feel guilty for leaving him in daycare
If I stay home, I'll:
- feel guilty that I'm not contributing to the household income
- potentially feel lonely and isolated and need to join a group of other moms to keep my head on straight
Of course, those are just the negative sides to both options. I know there are positive parts to each, too. If I stay home, I get to raise my kid just the way I want to. If I go to work, I'll have a break from the "thankless days of drudgery". Luckily, I've still got five months to decide what to do . . .
Plenty of books and articles exist about the issue of mothers working (just Google it) so I won't rehash too much. What's mostly been on my mind is the way women are told they can have everything: a lucrative and satisfying career, deep friendships, fast, healthy meals, a spotless house, perfectly behaved children, and great sex, too. (Or, as this article put it, "you need to be leaning in as far as you can at work and creating a Pinterest-perfect family tableau at home, replete with foraged-pinecone centerpieces and smiling tots happily eating their homemade quinoa cakes.")
I'm sure it's not impossible and millions of women do it. It's just that I'm not sure I want to try. It seems like too much trouble to try to have everything. It seems like you just hurry all the time. I want my children to grow up feeling calm about life, not like they just have to hurry from one thing to another, as they see their frazzled mother do.
Where's the balance between the stuck-at-home 1950s mom and the stuck-in-traffic 2017 mom?! Do I go move to the country and make homemade bread every day, or stay in my trendy neighborhood and buy a jogging stroller?
This much is for certain: Kyle and I will have another human living at our house in just around 55 days. We don't have to decide the rest of our lives right now. For right now, we just need to welcome him in and give him lots of love.