I have been dealing with a struggle the past few days, and I think it has finally worked itself out. Well, that’s not giving me enough credit. *I* worked it out. I think.
You see, I consider myself a feminist. My sense of self is important. I am woman, hear me roar, and whatnot. But that doesn’t mean I can’t define myself in terms of the people I love. I am no longer just me. I am part of a we. Part of a family. I’m a mom. That comes first in everything. Everything.
Even before I had my baby, my career definitely did not define me. Sure, it’s what I do with my days, and if people ask me what I do, I have an answer. But it’s not who I am. I don’t love it. I like it fine, and it pays the bills. But it is not the most important thing in my life. My family is more important. My self is more important. And now that I have a son, he is more important than anything else. Including myself.
This is a strange thing to come to terms with, and forgive me for being so abstract. But the fact is that I have spent the past seven months as a temporary stay at home mom. It’s been a huge learning experience, and I like to think I am fully indoctrinated into this new identity of Mom. It is who I am. Yes I am still who I was, and yet I am not. So my career has been shelved for now. I do intend to go back to it. In fact, I was supposed to go back to it next month. But some wrenches were thrown into the mix and it is going to be a little longer.
You see, in Los Angeles it is really hard to get into a day care. You virtually have to get on the wait list before you even get pregnant, if you hope to take the amount of time off that most women do. I found out I was pregnant in June of 2011. I got onto three wait lists, one in July and the other two in August of 2011. You’d think that would be plenty of time, seeing as how my baby was born in February 2012 and I planned to return to work in October. But no. We haven’t gotten in to ANY of them yet. And we’re not even next in line at any of them. None of them expect openings until December at the earliest.
My husband and I discussed it. I tore my hair out about it (which I really don’t need to work hard to do, with the whole post partum hair loss thing). I cried here and there. The idea of leaving my son in the first place was harrowing, but now I didn’t know how or when or with whom. We talked about hiring a nanny, but I have misgivings about that and I won’t go into it in this post. We talked about John quitting his job, but the concern over burned bridges and whatnot was problematic.
For the past several months, when my vacation and sick leave ran out, we’ve lived off only one income, and we’ve done remarkably well. We haven’t dipped into savings nearly as much as we anticipated having to do. So in the end we’ve decided that I’ll stay home longer. The problem is that we don’t know how long exactly, but John’s current job ends in December, so it won’t be any longer than that. If we get a day care spot before then, I’ll go back to work. If we don’t, I’ll go back when John finishes.
I am putting my son before my career. This is how I know, in my gut, that it is supposed to be. You might say that is what anyone would do, but I think there is a part of me that thinks that isn’t the right or the feminist thing to do. But you know what? If people judge me or disagree with my decision, that is their hangup, and not mine. My baby comes first, and that is the long and short of it.