April is a working mom to 3 yr old boy named Cameron and wife to husband Chad. She too, is undergoing family reconstruction and always striving to find Momtopia so she submitted this guest post. Her goal is to achieve the perfect family work balance.
I am a working mom to a handsome little 3 year old boy and a wife to my husband, a stay at home dad. Life isn’t exactly running like we planned it would, but I guess it never really does. When we had Cameron my husband had just finished school and was in the automotive field. The jobs were not plentiful or rewarding financially, and he decided to graduate with the one year diploma instead of pursuing the 2 year diploma and automotive apprenticeship for this reason. We decided I would return to work at 6 months and he would stay home. I had the better job by far and we were both not ready to send our baby boy off with strangers to daycare so this was definitely the best choice for us.
I have found over the last couple of years in my dedication to eliminate our student debt and maybe even a bit of outside influence (family and friends) I have pushed my husband to look for work occasionally (okay every 6 months or so), even though he was happy staying home with our son and wanted to until he started school. I knew it would have to be at least “x” amount per hour to offset the costs of daycare and minimum wage would not be worth it. This most recent occurrence was for something I thought would be a great job, financially rewarding, long term, unionized, etc., Everything seemed set to go, he seemed somewhat excited, even FB posted about it, and his first day was all aligned.
On his first day we arranged an aunt to watch our son. This was just a training day and we weren’t sure of his hours yet or exact start date of shift work, but we knew he’d be doing 2 weeks days and 2 weeks afternoons. He considered going to midnights, as it was devastating to him the thought of not seeing Cameron for 5 days in a row each afternoon shift week. But we thought we’d arrange childcare later, once we see how it goes since we had an aunt and a mom friend to help out in the interim. The thought of sending Cameron to daycare was devastating to me. I have rarely left my son with anyone other than my husband (never a stranger as in a daycare!) and when I have it has been with very close family only. I was so stressed out about this it was literally making me sick (and eat, but that’s a different story!). I know many people have left their children as they have to, the children survive, but I filled with worry for my poor little baby. I don’t think he is ready to go to daycare yet either, whether they ever are I don’t know, but he is very accustomed to life at home.
Well, the drive on day 1 to training added more stress to the situation. Half way there our car broke down. He was stranded in the middle of the road and had some kind stranger help him push the car off to the side. So me, thinking that this great opportunity I had just pushed him into pursuing and he reluctantly agreeing, was now down the drain. Yes, more stress! He called them promptly when he got home to tell them the situation and asked to be rescheduled for the training and that he was still interested. This is out of his character to pursue it on his own, so at this point I figured he was genuinely interested. In hindsight, he did this only for me.
All of this really got me thinking though. Was this job worth it? The added stress on our family life? The way our family situation is now I am able to start work really early and am home by 2:30pm every day and get to spend from then until my little boy’s 9:00pm bed time with him. I absolutely treasure this amount of time with him. I feel I get the perfect mix of being a full time working mom, but really a full time home mom too. We get to be a family from 2:30pm to 9:00pm each day. How many families can say that and how many struggle just to eat dinner together every night? Knowing how much I treasure this time and hubby also does with his whole days with Cameron, how was we going to cope not seeing him for 5 days straight? Was this fair? Also, I wouldn’t be able to work the same hours, I would have to work likely 8am to 4pm, wouldn’t be home until 5pm with traffic, so I too would be seeing much less of our son. Both of us would be much more affected and unhappy. Totally speaking for myself I definitely would be.
On the money side of things, my reason for the “push” in the first place, well I thought about that too. After daycare and gas costs (and I didn’t even factor in my additional gas costs as I would now be driving 2 ways in traffic compared to none now) and assuming no extra spending he’d only bring home ~$10K more per year…and this is at a job that is 1.5 times more than minimum wage. So a definitely more stressed out family but $10K richer. And if I am really concerned about being $10K richer, I could work an extra 10-15 OT shifts a year at my job (of which at times it is amply available) and make the same amount. So for the same dollar value I work 15 more shifts a year to his 365 days. Which makes sense to you? I now know which makes sense to me.
They have not re-called him since the first week for training. Was the car breaking down (now fixed) karma and the sign? I think so. All of this has made me realize that you can’t put a price on the happiness our perfect little family situation currently has. All of our debt (mine and his) will be done in 2 years even in our current situation. By then Cameron will be in school full time days (Sept 2012) and we’ll readjust our schedule then. We’ve survived until now, even with massive student debt, and we’ll still survive. I think if you brought home a million dollars but didn’t spend any time with your children it would be the more poor who spent as much quality time with their family who is really all the more richer. My initial question was the price of a happy family? I don’t think you can put a price on it. It’s priceless and I am rewarded every day with it.