Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Stay at Home Mom...with Nobody Home

My desk at my last office job (ignore the lunch).  April 2010.

The other day, a good friend who is also unemployed called me.  She was distraught because she had recently posted on Facebook that she and her husband were relocating to Seattle. Naturally, inquiring minds wanted to know: what new work is taking you to Seattle?  The catch is, neither my friend nor her husband have a job lined up at this point.  They're moving to Seattle to make it easier to find a job.

SAHM?  WAHM?  Ex-WAHM? or Just Plain Unemployed?
Our discussion made me think about my own situation.  I've been unemployed since the end of October and I'm currently on the hunt for work.  My son goes to daycare and isn't at home with me.  So what does that make me?

Am I stay-at-home mom?  Am I work-at-home mom?  An ex-work-at-home-mom?  A wanna-be-work-at-home mom?  Am I stay at home mom if there are no kids at home to watch over?

My husband and I count our lucky stars every day.  I don't have to go back to work.  We can manage on his salary alone, as long as we watch our budget and are careful with our spending.  This decision to find new work is entirely mine. 

Work versus Stay at Home
A year ago, I might have just stayed home to take care of my son.  We enrolled our son in a Montessori program just before he turned two years old this past summer and we've been delighted with the program.  He's an only child and we feel that he gets more out of school than if he stayed at home.  So, when my last contract ended last October, we looked at our finances and agreed we should leave my son in school, whether I decide to go back to work or not.

Prior to Turning Two
I stayed home with my son until he was nine months old.  I know not everyone can afford this option but we were fortunate, and whenever I look back, I cherish those memories of those first months with my son.  My husband went back to work after the two weeks of leave accorded by California law, and I quickly adjusted to taking care of our son on our own.  It definitely was NOT easy.  I had the support of other moms that I met through a lactation support group and my parents would occasionally lend a hand.  But those days, those months, are some of my favorite moments with my son.  He changed so much in those first six months and watching all those milestones: the first time he rolled over, the first time he sat up unassisted, his first solid foods, the first time he pulled himself up to standing...I'm so glad I was there to catch every one of those moments.

By the time my son turned seven months old I was itching to get back to work.  Full time motherhood was not for me.  I missed the structure of a work office and the reward of working and contributing on projects (I work on the IT sector) and was ready to get back to my old life (at least, parts of it).  I started looking into options and was fortunate enough to get a position with my old company, but I could work from home.

So when my son was nine months old, we hired a nanny.  I was still nursing and having my son at home with me was perfect.  I remember all the stories from my friends who had to go back to work and pump.  And I felt lucky that I didn't have to join the ranks.  I nursed my son until he turned one.

Then, just before my son turned two, my husband got a new job in Colorado.  We relocated from California to Colorado.  We had to give up the nanny.  I was able to take my remote job with me to Colorado, so we had to find childcare.  We ended up at the Montessori school we are at now.

What's Next?
My son has been at the Montessori school for ten months now.  It's hard to believe we're coming up to a full year in Colorado.  I hope that I'll find new work here in Colorado.  If it's a job that requires I report to an office, that will be a HUGE adjustment for me.  I haven't gone into an office for work since I gave birth to my son.  But he's very independent now, and it just doesn't feel right being at home not working, so as soon as I get another job, I'm sure my husband and I will figure out how to divide and conquer, just as so many other parents out there do today!

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