1.02.2013

Sliding doors.

Already busted out of his newborn swaddles... time flies!
The feeling started when Noah was three weeks old and I was writing a letter to my friend Jess. It was nearly November and when I made the quick calculation in my head, that there was only one more month past November that I'd be home with Noah, I melted into a puddle of tears. (To be fair, it did not take much back then to do this). He was so small! We were barely on track with his weight gain and I knew December would fly with holiday celebrations and I'd imagined all this time with him, taking him to meet friends, car trips, enough days in a row to develop a routine that would eventually be broken when I returned to work on January 2.

This was all very overwhelming for a person who loves working and her job and her colleagues.

I wrestled with it for all of November. Some days I vowed that I would not, could not, should not go back. Others I missed the projects and the people so much that it almost made it imaginable to go through the labor of finding an elegant solution to our lack of daycare.

Here, in no particular order, were things I thought:

  • People say they grow up so fast. If we can find a way for us to afford me staying home for a bit, shouldn't we do it now?
  • We put SO much intention into preparing for Noah... doesn't it feel wrong to leave him to spend his days with someone else?
  • But my career! Will I never get promoted/a raise/a gold watch if I take time off?!
  • And my degrees! Won't my brain sink into a pile of mush if I stay home all day? 
  • Not to mention... what will I DO all day? Bake cookies? Eat said cookies? Get fat? Hate everything?!?
  • But the baby. We want him to be a good boy who grows into a good man. I can't imagine leaving him at such a young age, seeing him for a few minutes before his bedtime each night and on the weekends. 
So, ultimately:
  • I will not regret spending time raising my son. I may later say things like "yeah, I could have done more XYZ if I'd gone back right away," but it won't be regret. I'll still feel that I did the right thing.
You have got to make the decision that's right for your family, even if the decision feels like the last thing you ever thought you'd choose. I know people who went back to work at 6 weeks and it was totally the right choice. I know others who never went to an office again, who stayed home and did the massive amount of work it takes to raise babies and clean laundry and manage a household and forage for dinner. You've got to weigh everything and make the choice from there.

"Of course you're conflicted," my friend Leigh told me when I broached the subject with her early on. "It's 2012. We're supposed to be modern women who can do everything."

Well here I am raising the white flag. I cannot do everything. I can do some things - and even that feels like a big statement right now. I can do a few things well enough that they are worth it. And the primary thing that I need to be doing right now is raising my son and supporting my husband as we work out the kinks of being a family of three.

I am fortunate to work for a company that is allowing me to take the time I need. When I feel ready to add exterior work back into my life, we'll have a conversation about when and if and how. In the meantime I am soaking up the first months of our boy's life. Today, instead of having my first day back at work, I read books to him and took him on a stroll and spoke to him in French. 

And later this week, because I want my brain to remain active and adult and because I have too many ideas to know what to do with them, I'll have some exciting news about a new No Is For Wimps offering. Stay tuned - and thanks for the support. This has been a difficult decision and so many of you have helped me embrace the change.

6 comments:

EricaRW said...

I basically want to respond to all of your posts with 'you go girl!' though it feels so trite - I mean it. I'm glad the future of your family is being so carefully considered and I know you'll come up with a good plan in due time xo

lindsay said...

I second Erica! Way to go Jen! These are difficult choices that women are faced with and you MUST do what is right for you and for your family. sending love your way! hugs to noah from NC!

Jen said...

Thanks, guys! xx

Rebecca said...

Congrats, lady! You are an inspiration to me. I love reading about your life and how you and Chris approach things. If Robbie and I decide to have a kid, I am going to pepper you with questions. Pepper you, I say!

Daffodil Campbell said...

Today I took care of Mila, who's mommy went back to work this morning for the first time. And I tried to recall the first time I ever left Max with a sitter. I think he was two. But with Lucy, I was back to work within a few hours of her birth because that was just the circumstance of her arrival.

My point is, every parent and every child and every situation is different, and only you and Chris and Noah can figure out what works for your family. Yay for taking the time to figure it out and do what feels right. You have *got* to trust your instincts because they are seriously the only way to make it through life.

I thought I knew an awful lot about babies until I had one of my own. Every day is full of decisions, from what you are feeding them, to where they are sleeping, to how they are diapered. Glass or plastic? Binkie or no binkie? Does the carseat have to go in the middle of the backseat? What if you only have two seats in the back and not one in the middle WHAT THEN???

I'm glad you are able to be where you need to be right now. xo

Susan Epting said...

Jen,

I am doing something that I said I would never do - replying to one of your blog posts! I just want to say that Dad and I fully support your decision to stay home with Noah at this point. It is the right thing for you, Noah, and Chris. Believe me, I totally understand the dilemma that you faced in making the decision not to return to work at this point because I faced the same issues with you, Kate, and Steve. Fortunately, as a nurse, I was able to return to work part-time as a college nursing instructor, when you were nine months old. I did the same with your siblings. I have never regretted my decisions for even one second! I always thought that I did not want to look back in 20 years and say, "If only I had been there when....." Children grow much too quickly and you, Kate, and Steve are testament to that fact. Enjoy Noah, nourish him physically and mentally, and your career will mean even more when you return to it. You are a very strong young woman and will be successful at whatever you do in life.

Love,
Mom xo