I thought these decisions had been made. I am a working mom. I have found balance by working only 30 hrs a week. I have some schedule flexibility to take care of my daughter when she's ill or watch her kick a soccer ball. All in all, things are pretty good. I get to use my brain again. I get to have an identity separate from my husband and my children. But I still get to be there.
But now, 1.5 months into a new job, it's all in question again. I did that pesky math that I mentioned in my last post, and realized that by me continuing to work, if everything else stays unchanged, I will be $7,000 in the hole once we add baby #2 to the mix. This is primarily for two reasons. 1) My husband makes a lot more than I do, so my salary essentially gets taxed at his rate, which means that my take home pay is quite a bit lower than it otherwise would be, and 2) Daycare costs in this city are astronomical. I did this math before I started back to work, after I found out I was pregnant, but didn't properly account for the tax portion.
My daughter is currently in a daycare center, and it's actually on the lower end of cost as far as centers go, but still quite a lot compared to other geographical locations. We could move her to an in home day care, but I've never found one I feel comfortable with, and I've always been more comfortable with the idea of a center. Maybe this is based on my personal inadequacies. Because when I watch a young child all day, I sometimes get cranky and impatient. When there are other people (i.e. dear husband) I can step away for a moment if I need to collect myself. In home daycare providers don't have that option. So while they may be wonderful, doesn't everyone have their moments? I have a hard time getting comfortable with an environment that doesn't have any backup for the providers, and for which there is essentially no oversight. I know there are wonderful places out there, I'm certainly not accusing anyone, that's just how I feel.
After pondering the possibility of returning home full time, I find myself not fond of the idea. For a whole lot of reasons. If I could leave temporarily, for a couple years, and know I could return to the work force, I'd probably do it, even though it's isolating and sometimes mind-numbing. But what if I can't find a job I like? Or that works for us? This 30 hours a week gig is perfect, I'm skeptical I'd find another such opportunity doing something I like. There just aren't a whole lot of Geochemists in the world, sadly. And not an overwhelming need for more.
Let me bore you with a little more math. The $7,000 figure is probably a bit lower, because that doesn't account for retirement benefits (which would bring the number closer to $4500) and other benefits, most of which we don't need because we get them through DH's employer. But it also doesn't account for things like parking fees, or the costs of keeping a child home (including more outings). These numbers add some fuzz to the $7,000 number, but it's a rough estimate.
So now I need to come up with a solution. Something I can sleep with at night, because paying $7,000 a year for the right to go to work doesn't sit easy with me. I have to ask, if you feel comfortable talking about it, what would be your breaking point? At what point would you throw in the towel and say "Enough! I'm staying home!" Do you worry about losing skills and not being employable? Do you worry about not being financially independent and relying on your spouse? That last question is poignant for me. As a child of divorce, I remember a few lessons about keeping financial independence that stuck with me. (I appreciate those lessons, Mom). I don't currently worry about this, but it happens to a lot of unsuspecting women, and I want to have the option for self-reliance. But how do you balance that with the realities of having small children that need you around?