Back to work after babies… to be or not to be? Or how to be?


drama_queen1This is hardly stop-the-presses material, but, did you know, having babies puts a serious hole in your career path?

I knew this, of course. The same way you know that babies will change your life forever. That babies mean sleepless nights. That kids are expensive, they test relationships, they test your own limits, they bring great joy and introduce you to entirely new parts of yourself.

We all know this stuff. And then we live it. And then we really know.

Right now I am living through this kids-kill-careers thing.
I’m not pronouncing my career dead by any means. But the children have become my new priority. I want to be with them. So much that I am pretty sure I am not going to push hard for the next step with a company I have been with for a long time, a company that gave me my dream job for a while, and international travel and a decent salary and benefits and all of that good stuff. I thought I would be with them for a long time yet, and that I would travel across more of the world with them, moving further up the chain.

Instead I’m thinking about walking away. Because if we should stay put I can work close to home, or AT home (ie, the coffee shop around the corner). We can have a nanny so the babies get lots of personal attention. And let’s be honest, having that help at home is a HUGE help and support for our relationship, too. Even with that help I feel resentful quite often that the burden seems to fall disproportionately on me. Rufus is a lovely dad, but he’s rarely home these days for bathtime, and he gets up now and then to help in the night and every now and then in the morning, but then he seems to think he’s owed a medal of some kind.

I think moving across the world now to a big city where we’d have to put the babies in a childcare centre fulltime while I worked long hours and he settled himself would make us all a bit miserable, at least for a while.

So lately my mind has been filled with possibilities and worries. Maybe I should start my own small business? Or consult? Or take a fulltime job that’s come up here that’s totally within my skillset but paid far less than I’d usually earn?

I went to an interview for that job today. I felt tired and frumpy and not myself at all. I am vastly overqualified for this position; they know it and I know it. “What am I doing?” I thought, as I sat there, in a wrap dress that accommodates my new lumpiness. It just felt all wrong.

I took a risk in coming to Peru years ago – I knew it then, and I am paying the price now, in a way. But I have gained so much more than I have lost in taking that risk – my partner, my children, new friends, an understanding of a new place and culture, a new language. I don’t regret it. I’m just a little scared about what’s next. That’s good, I tell myself. Some of my “scariest”, most insecure career moments propelled me on to my boldest and best and biggest changes. It’s going to be ok.

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4 thoughts on “Back to work after babies… to be or not to be? Or how to be?

  1. I hear ya, sister. I have a second interview for a job I was headhunted for, (no idea I was capable of!) , it is almost DOUBLE my salary, and I am soooooo disinterested. I also was asked to go for promotion at work (lengthy annoying difficult bureaucratic process). Again, disinterested. It just doesn’t seem IMPORTANT, does it? I’m not clear on what you’re up to, reading this post? Are you also tossing up between staying, pushing for promotion, or taking a LOWER paid job? Just be careful, lower paid doesn’t always mean lower responsibilities (though it’s good if it’s closer to home). My old boss pulled me aside before I returned from mat leave and said “under NO circumstances are you to ask for part time work”! And then he explained to me how you still get the same administrative burden (the forms, the emails, the meetings), but just less pay. And in many jobs, that’s true. Many women are a bit perfectionist, and hard on themselves about career performance coming back after kids. But you know what? It’s ok to lower your standards. It’s ok to be less than perfect. It’s ok to feel like you’re not doing “everything you can”. It’s ok to be “not as driven” as before. And geez, I know what you mean about one early morning and he deserves a medal. Seen the movie, got the tshirt, wrote a blog post on that one!

    • Double the salary! Music to my ears… but yes, the disinterest. I feel very very torn. Part of me wants to do some work, and work that I enjoy and something will keep me advancing. But I don’t want to go back to huge slogging hours right now, when they are so small.. this time will go by so quickly. I don’t want to miss it. I don’t want Max to be confused about who his mother is!

      I am considering taking a lower-paid job because it’s close and allows us to stay here for the meantime. And it offers a little security. But I know that this is the moment when I should be really advancing and I’m not, and if I do ease off for another year or two, then all momentum will be lost. So part of me thinks, well, you HAVE to get back in there otherwise we’ll all be struggling in the future. Nothing new here – so many women face this kind of quandary…

      Ha, yes, the medal. I am not handing any out right now!

      • Ah, I don’t think it will really be that black and white. Different doors will open at different times, opportunities you have never forseen may appear out of nowhere, go with your gut. Yes, I think for double the money they may well and truly want their pound of flesh, and as someone who shows up half an hour late because we stopped to watch a digger, what price flexibility?

      • When you are on your deathbed you will not regret having stopped to watch that digger 🙂

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