Finding Footing

So here we are. I am on mom patrol all day long and let me just say – stay at home moms? You are an army of 1 and I tip my hat to you.

I love my kid but I really hate having him be my all day every day.

I love that we moved to Seattle. I love love love it. But part of me does wish that we had moved for my career vs Kamel’s. That sounds petty when I type it and I am so proud of him and grateful for his opportunities, I just want my own opportunities. And wouldn’t it be nice to be the one carrying the family for a change? Wouldn’t it be nice to have the big important job? That would be nice.

I’m still climbing my ladder and building my stepping stones and that is good too. I have to remind myself and Kamel that he is older than me by a few years, and that I went to grad school instead of joining the working ranks so he has quite a few years ahead of me career-wise. But still. I want to have a job that means something to me and to my family. (And of course my job has always meant something to me and my family… it’s just… in comparison to Kamel’s? Because he makes more and has better benefits, his gets the most important stamp.)

When I left my job a lot of my coworkers assumed I was leaving to be a stay at home mom. That has never been my goal and has never been something I’ve wanted. It was interesting though that people immediately jumped there. I think it is a socially comfortable place. “Ohh, you’re leaving! For your family! And you have a baby! So convenient!” Except… this hasn’t been the convenient choice by any means. This has been a lot of work and we changed course in order to give our family a better quality of life, but… man, it’s going to take some effort and patience to get us to the point we were at in the Bay Area. We were a well-oiled parenting, marriage-ing, individual-ing machine (or close to it? almost there? something). We are, maybe, just now beginning to find our footing again. On a rocky rocky shore, with giant waves, and we are very wet and cold…. metaphorically and sometimes literally. It was a long December and a turbulent roller-coastery November. I’m so relieved that it is now January and I be seein’ normal times ahead. Fresh starts and newness.

How has your year started off? I know everyone has been freezing to death in the US and thankfully, my little corner has not been hit by the POLAR VORTEX. So… other than that…?

24 thoughts on “Finding Footing”

  1. Whenever you write a post like this, I feel so relieved. I feel like everyone else has kids and decides that they want to be at home with them but they have to work, and I just don’t think I’ll be like that and thank you for sharing.

    When we were first married and I was unemployed, I mentioned to a friend how hard it was to not be earning money and to be depending on a husband, and she just looked at me and said, “but it won’t always be like that.” And I realized that she was right, that life is short, but it is wide, and this too shall pass. You will get your chances and your career and you will be back into your routine eventually and it’s better to have made this change now than later. It will not always be like this.

    1. I’m so so happy that reading this was good for you. Sometimes I feel like I’m beating a dead horse. “I love my kid but I don’t love my kid THAT much!!” Maybe I do love my kid that much, but I love me more? Or I love my kid enough to say “we need space.” Something.

      And honestly, I feel like I will never make as much as Kamel. That my job will always be “important” financially – it will allow us to save for a house, to make us comfortable, etc – but if I had an amazing opportunity that required us to move, could we? I don’t know. I kind of think not.

      Sometimes it is hard to be married when I remember that I am not single me who does things only for my benefit and yay mememememe. Sometimes remembering that is a bummer.

    2. Me too. Sighing with relief. I know it’s stupid, other people’s choices shouldn’t matter to me so much, as they say nothing about my own, but it’s just SO NICE to read a blog written by a working mom who loves her family more than anything, but also values her career, and I was a little disappointed when I thought I might not be able to relate to you in quite the same way that I do now (yeah, I admit it, my mind went to the socially comfortable place and thought there was a chance you’d be stay-at-home-momming).

      I also appreciate hearing your thoughts about “wouldn’t it be nice to be the one carrying the family.” What a dose of perspective and a reminder to be grateful for what I have. I have a bad habit of playing the family martyr because I am one with the big job that pays the bills and it is so scary/overwhelming/hard that sometimes I forget to be grateful for the benefits that come with that (like getting to call some of the shots, geography-wise).

      I look forward to hearing about your continuing journey down the career path in Seattle. I know you will rock it, even when it’s rocky.

  2. That’s so, so hard. People actually ask me if I’m going to stay home after having the kiddo, and I look at them like they’re crazy. Being a SAHM is way harder than working and handing them off to daycare every morning. Like, unimaginably harder. And J has always had the “more important” job too – better pay, better hours, etc. And we moved back to WI for his job, even though I was the one who wanted to be back in the midwest. I just wanted to be working in manufacturing, not taking a job at a software company and sitting in front of a computer all day. That’s not to say that I don’t love my job – I do. It’s just not quite the same though.

    That aside, this year has already been crazy – so much running around and getting things done pre-baby. Daycare is hard to find, it turns out, and trying to fit in a floor re-do and kitchen remodel? Oof. I’m hoping that things quiet down at least for a little while, and I do hope that you hit your stride there in Seattle. Life is harder than they ever told us it would be, isn’t it?

  3. You know I feel you on the more-important job front. 😉 But I am so happy for you and Kamel and this new chapter. It always comes with those itchies at the beginning, but it always gets better!

    As for me, I’m realizing exactly why God steered me from that promotion last year. I was not built for Midwest or New England temperatures. I’m gladly sitting here at 55F this morning. 🙂

  4. My husband’s career is The Important One too, and, oddly, I’m totally okay with that. If anything, I’m glad that one of us has The Important Job, while the other (me) can be super flexible. I work from home (for a firm I worked for in Boston), so my husband has always been extremely grateful that I’m able to still bring home bacon while allowing him to move us to California and back for his career. I enjoy my job and I see growth potential, but we both know that if push came to shove and (for some weird reason I can’t imagine now) I had to leave it, I would. I used to be bummed that I did have The Important Job, but now I’ve really settled into loving the flexibility that I know I have. My husband is a faculty member in a relatively small field in science, so that’s pretty specialized. If I *also* had a specialized, location-limiting career, how much would that suck? If anything, I think having one flexible person paired with a person who leads the family (job-location-wise) is ideal!

  5. This touched on something that has been on my mind lately, but kind of in an opposite way. I guess I technically have The Important Job by virtue of the fact that I make about 30% more than my husband does. We don’t have kids yet, but we are talking about it. While I have never wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, and I still don’t think I’d enjoy it, there is something about the fact that I probably can’t that makes me itchy. I mean, obviously we could make it work if we really wanted to, but it would make more sense financially for my husband to stay at home if we ever decided we wanted to go that route. And if/when I am on maternity leave, we will be losing a larger chunk of our income for the duration that I am unpaid. On the other hand, I don’t know that I’d ever really be comfortable depending completely on my husband’s salary. I am thankful to live in a time where it is even possible for me to be the breadwinner, but it comes with a weird sort of pressure that I haven’t quite made peace with yet.

    1. This really resonates with me. I noted in my comment above that being the breadwinner is scary/overwhelming for me, and this is a big part of it. I love that my husband stays home with the kid, I know how lucky I am that that’s even possible, and I love working, but it is still hard knowing that I can’t stay home, even if I want to. Even though we’d probably arrive at the same decision even if we had all the money in the world, I’d like to have the option of actually deciding. It’s actually kind of painful. I guess not having options is always painful, though, no matter where you’re coming from. I certainly know plenty of stay-at-home moms who didn’t feel they had a real choice in the matter (because of their religious background and family expectations, mostly) and resent the hell out their situation because of it.

      Also, the pressure. Oh man, having a kid just amplifies it.

  6. This post is dead-on. I knew when I moved to be with my now-husband, that I was putting his career ahead of mine, and that his would always come first/be more important because I can work from anywhere and he has very specific places where he can do his job. And sometimes that really bums me out. But as long as I’m able to do work I enjoy, I guess it’s not so bad. 🙂

  7. The whole who has the “important job” thing has always kind of bugged me. For the entirety of our marriage (and before our marriage for a few years), I’ve been the breadwinner, the person who supports us, and we’ve made most of our location decisions around my job. Yet… everyone sees HIS job as the important one, because everyone has doctor-worship. It drives me crazy, but i feel like it shouldn’t, because its coming from kind of a selfish place.

    I’ve made my peace, though, with the fact that our next big location decision will be entirely dependent on his opportunities and his wishes. I feel like its his turn, and I’m okay with that.

    Also, I kind of love january just because everyone has such a “reset” mindset. I like feeling like this is my chance to really focus on goals and projects, even though (in reality) i can do that at literally any point. I think this upcoming year is going to see big changes, and I’m using this month to look forward and plan 🙂

  8. I wonder what it would be like to have the important job, too. Especially since I feel like most of our life decisions have been dominated by J’s job… but J’s job situation has also been pure hell. Right now I’d give almost anything for either of us to get good career news, though if I’m being honest I’d rather he have it than me. It has been such a source of stress and anxiety for the last four years (!) that I can barely imagine what life would be like if we could stop worrying about it.

    I know from nannying one summer in college that I could never be a stay at home mom. It’s so boring! Granted, my ideal job would be flexible and might allow me to be home more than your average 8-5 day job, but I would not be happy not working. I hope you find something that works for you! It’s so hard.

  9. I’m at home ( but probably should be working for financial reasons). I could not leave my kids on a daily basis in the care of someone else. I just can’t. And it’s funny because I’m the first to tell you, these kids are driving me insane, this is f*ing hard! Part of me is realizing I might not have been cut out to be a SAHM, but I still couldn’t take that step to leave for a job, at least not yet anyway. I know this stage (2 1/2 year old and 7 month old) will pass quickly in the grand scheme, and I will have time to work the rest of my life. Right now I’m just trying to be a better mom and I’m good being where I am. The sacrifices (and there are a lot!) will be worth it to me in the end 🙂

    1. Staying at home with the is mental gymnastics. How do you keep them occupied but yourself sane? You are amazing. I think there are people who gravitate towards being home with their kids and have this knack for coming up with activities etc etc. I feel like I am just barely making it until Kamel gets home and then I can go hide in the bedroom for an hour.

  10. Being in the supporting partner seat career wise can be rough. I’ve been doing that on and off over the past few years, while Bunny quit his design job, went back to school, found a new job (which was part of the reason we moved back home as well) and is getting settled in his career. Our trade off is that the decisions made for his career work to better our life together and that I know when I’m ready to go back to school or revamp my career, the support system will be there.

    Not to say it isn’t hard – because well, some days it sucks. One of our other compromises is that when we’re making big sacrifices and changes for his career, a disproportionate majority of the little things go my way.

  11. 10 months is a tough age because they need much more hands on entertainment. Dear Boy just turned two, and while we still do things together, my heart swells with even more love for him when he lays on the floor and plays with his trains or cars for over an hour. That’s how I’ve been writing job applications over the last week. As an aside, holy crap, do I hate writing statements addressing the selection criteria. I feel for you as you job hunt as well.

  12. Oh, hey, this is really resonating with me since I just gave notice at work today. I’m moving to Alabama, where my husband has a 2-year legal fellowship (he’s already been down there for 6 months, but long distance just. Was. Not. Working. and it was time to make a choice between my career and my baby family. It was really hard to give notice, partly because I’m moving without anything lined up and it is hard to accept that because I define my own successes by what I’m doing at any given moment, but I’m trying to see the opportunities in the challenges. The last 5 years of my life have been largely dictated by his career needs, but I hope that after this leg of our journey, I’ll get to be the pilot for a while. And, of course, I’m trying to pack up my life in the next three weeks!

    Man, I snuck a lot of corny lines into that comment. Hugs, lady!

  13. Oh this is hard stuff. I really wish I would have a job in my field, a job where I felt valued and that I am doing something worthwhile. But now, having graduated 4 years ago, with some internships and unrelated job experience in the middle I am getting way behind. I really hope at some point I will be able to work in my area because it is something that feels so much a part of me… and also I really want to be able to feel like I am pulling my weight financially. At the same time, I always really wanted to stay at home with the kids for a year or two, so I guess it’s for the best for now. The situation is giving us the chance to do that, and we are lucky in that sense.
    My husband is the one with the job experience and good opportunities… which is why we are here (though we never imagined the job situation would be so hard for me), the funny thing is that though he is good at what he does, it’s not his passion or life-dream, or anything like that… I think he would be happy staying at home, the house would be super well kept, that’s for sure! It’s me who has this specific dream-jobs / area but we haven’t been able to make that happen and it’s like something is missing, on bad days I feel kind of useless, or like I wasted so much time learning things that I am not using, and sometimes I feel I don’t know anything anymore.
    Anyhow I am rambling.
    I am sure you will find a job you like and that the pieces will fall together. It is also important that you know that it is important for you to be in the world and that you are going towards that. In the meantime, I am sure the time , your time will come, because you are working hard to meet your goals.

  14. You bring up a good point about resentful SAHMs. I have a coworker whose husband keeps bullying her to stay home even though it makes her miserable. It always makes me so thankful that my husband wouldn’t pressure me into something I hate.

    I will say that the other day, my husband stayed home from work and he had dinner ready when I walked in the door. I could probably get used to that 🙂

  15. My husband is getting his PhD and earns below poverty line wages doing so and my (modestly compensated) job supports us….I love it and don’t. Sometimes I feel pressure that it’s on me to carry us but also I love buying clothes and planning vacations and never feeling guilty or conflicted about it. Presumably in a few years he’ll be earning more and we will move and I will likely be unemployed for a few months trying to find work in that new place. I have no idea how I will cotton to that! For as much as it can be a stressor, I feel proud that I can support us right now. It’ll probably never be like that after (crosses fingers/toes/life/whole self) he gets a job because I will probably lifetime max out at about 20k more than I make now in I stay in this line of work.

  16. I totally understand this feeling.

    Even before kid(s), I’ve always had this double whammy of: I HAVE to be the breadwinner (to have value, for my sanity, to prove that I don’t just follow my husband), and I have to contribute way more than my husband NOW to make up for being a worthless lump of fibromyalgia carrier that might not be a wage-earner later. There are days this is a frightening reality and I hate the idea of feeling like a dependent. My career and financial contributions are supposed to make up for the supposed lack of job that might be in my future. And also because I couldn’t ever stand the idea of being a SAHM – there are people who are amazing at that, but I really don’t think I’m one of them.

    Still, we’re in partnerships and all our contributions are valid and valuable, whether it’s directly making money or making it possible for our partners to make the money (whether “we” is us or our spouses!) It’s just hard to remember that.

  17. I used to feel like my career was more important, since I was the one in grad school and B was the one picking up slack and making accommodations for my schedule. It’s also why we stayed so long in that particular city, when he was eager to look for jobs elsewhere. Then there was a phase where it felt like his job was the one that mattered most, since I was barely earning anything and we relocated when he got hired somewhere else.

    Now… it feels very equal. Our salaries aren’t identical, but they’re close-ish. Neither of us has any expectation of advancing where we are now… and we’re both pretty sure that, if we stay in these fields, we’ll probably never make much more than we do now (slightly more true for me than for him, but we’re both currently public sector – not known for its sky-high income potential ;)). Instead, I feel like location is our priority. We consider jobs and ignore others because we want to be in a particular place (closer to our families).

    However, I’d still want to wait until B got an offer before our next move. I have fewer years invested in this field (and I’m never sure whether things are looking up or on the verge of collapsing) and very little of my identity. I’d be okay with finding something else – I can handle unemployment better. I’d like to think this is more due to my personality than being female, but it’s hard to imagine it’s not all wrapped up together. I do feel like we have it easier because we don’t have to consider daycare costs or anyone staying home with kids, resentfully or otherwise. But sometimes that thought also makes me feel a little guilty that I *don’t* have huge career aspirations… I’d be so totally free to pursue them.

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