Sunday, June 3, 2012

On Work & Motherhood

Am I Ready?

My husband and I want to have children together. There are already two in the picture, from a previous marriage, but we still want to have children that are “ours.” Becoming a mother is very important to me, and so is having a child with my husband. I always imagined being a mother, more so than I ever imagined getting married or having a particular career. I just knew it was something I would eventually do. Mother. Mother to many children – I once went through a phase where I told people I wanted TEN! In high school I also dreamed of having four boys (including having their names picked out) – pretty sure I was having trouble getting along with girls at that point in my life.
I have struggled a lot over recent years with the “Am I ready?” question. Most of the time I feel that I am not ‘grown up’ enough to be a parent. When I shared this with a potentially wise young dad he told me that I won’t ever feel grown up until the moment I do become a parent. He might be right. I may need to let go of the urge to feel 100% ready before moving forward.
My current struggles in regards to becoming a parent though, are all career-related. I worry about the timing of parenthood and where I am in my search for a career. I worry about getting pregnant while in a job that I’m unhappy with. Being stuck in a bad job is one thing, stuck while also pregnant, or with an infant? That has to be much worse. I worry about the negative effects of going out on maternity leave while I’m still so new to my job (if we started trying now, I will be exactly at the one year mark in my new position). Will I fall behind, right at the very point I started knowing what I was doing? I’m in higher education now, and maternity leave could interrupt my first full academic year – so I’ll never be able to judge if the field is really right for me. I worry about being judged by my supervisor and her supervisor, about how I’d be inconveniencing them somehow. And I worry about job stress preventing me from enjoying such a beautiful time in mine and my husband’s life.
Leaving my current job also feels like a non-option if I want to get pregnant in the near future. I have to work. Financially, we both have to be working at this point in our lives, so I need to be in a job long enough to qualify for the maximum maternity leave. If I leave my job for another, the clock resets. We can’t push things off forever while I shop for the elusive perfect job.
I feel sad about leaving my old job while I have these career vs. motherhood thoughts. The job was not fulfilling or high paying, but it was good in many other ways.  It was an incredibly family-friendly environment full of baby-loving people. Co-workers babysit each others children, celebrate milestones together, and having a kid in the office due to an unforeseen emergency was no big deal. Leaving work to go to multiple doctors appointments would have been simple. People would have been sympathetic and helpful if I was sick. I also was far past the minimum time to qualify for maternity leave and had great sick and vacation time saved up as well. I shouldn’t dwell on it too much, it’s not my place anymore.
Has anyone else felt this scared or conflicted?
I think I know deep down that all of this is just fear talking. Everything will work out as it should. I can’t let one job control my life choices. I work to live, I don’t live to work. Family is the most important thing - my husband, our future children.

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