Monday, May 26, 2008

Tough decisions

On this beautiful Memorial Day, hubby and I just spent some time watching a slideshow of photos of the stickies. The photos brought me to tears. On the one hand, I can't believe how big they've gotten. They've grown out of their newborn outfits and diapers, their head control is getting better and better by the day, and their smiles. Oh, their smiles. I melt. I mean, look at this:

And, something occured to me this morning. It occured to me as I sat on a conference call. On this beautiful day. During the UNPAID portion of my maternity leave. What occured to me is this: I hate my job. Or, at least, I don't love it. Not nearly enough to justify allowing it to keep me away from these beautiful little kids for a minute longer than I have to. And in the pre-sticky era, I was away from home a lot. I worked long hours, and spent way more time battling traffic--sometimes as much as five hours of traffic a day--than I will have the stomach for now. So today, after the conference call (which I swear was a repeat of a conversation I've had ten zillion times over the past three years), I came downstairs and told hubby I wanted to leave my job. I told him that I just don't have it in me to, for the fourth year in a row, have the same conversations, manage virtually the same projects, defend the same decisions, and do the same things day in and day out. All while someone else raises my kids. Kids it took us so long to have.

Unfortunately, we need my salary. We can't make ends meet without it. Not only that, the stickies and I are all on my insurance. And we need to be. If we were to be insured under hubby's plan it would cost us a prohibitive $1,400/month. (His job sucks. They pay for 0% of any family member's insurance. It's so crappy and un-family friendly, I could scream.) So, for me to leave work--or even to take a pay cut--we'd have to add $16K after taxes to the total amount of money we'd be losing out on. And we just can't afford that.

And so I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place, and I just don't know what to do. Do I try to convince my current employer to let me go part time, knowing that I can't do my current job part-time? (And knowing how impossible it is to cut back when people across the organization already know you as the go-to person for certain projects.) Do I look for another job? Do I just try to cut back on hours or travel in my current position (knowing it will compromise my ability to do the job)?

I hate having to make these decisions, these trade offs. Why can't we all just be independently wealthy?*

*I recognize having money comes with problems of its own. But man right now it seems like it would make things easier!


Carbon said...

I don't envy your decision. I am the primary breadwinner in my family too, and when we have our first (in ~1yr *fingers crossed*) I will have no choice but to return to work.

Any chance your employer would let you work from home for a couple of days per week?

Anonymous said...

Been there. Quit the job and do not regret it at ALL.

Sold the house and bought a smaller one in a cheaper area. Sold the extra car. I drove him to work and picked him up when he could not carpool. I took in another mother's baby for extra cash. We lived very, very frugally. Went on COBRA for health insurance followed by private health insurance.

It was hard. It was worth EVERY penny. I raised my own children who are now awesome people and thank me over and over for being with them until they were in school fulltime.

I have never heard any mother regret staying home. No matter how hard---your babies deserve this.

Kate said...

Going back to work is really hard. That is such a cute picture!!

Waiting Amy said...

This is such a tough situation. I was fortunate that my DH's work covered our family health insurance, and we had moved to a pretty low-cost area after my son was born. So I did decide to stay home. But in the process I probably gave up my professional career (I need to keep up for licensure).

Is there any chance your DH could change jobs? To try and find one with better health insurance? Then maybe you'd only have to work for a few months and then scale back or quit. I know that the additional costs of health insurance can be monumental, but how do they compare to the costs of the stickies daycare? Is is a wash?

These are such difficult things to consider. I will say that while it was really difficult, and our financial future is not as secure as it would have been, I am glad I stayed home. But I certainly understand that in many instances that's just not possible. You can only do what is best for your family.

E said...

I know just what you're going through. The kids are on my insurance, too and I really don't want to go back to work. W's company doesn't cover family insurance either. And I know just that feeling of "Could I possibly stand to do (insert stupid task) while someone else is raising my kids?"

I hope you're able to make a decision that works for all of you!!

Also - LOVE that picture! What a smile!

Sarah said...

oh my god i am in love with that picture!!!

one thing to keep in mind on the insurance is that his job may not be the only option. when i became self employed we lost my fab insurance. at first we thought we were stuck with his work policy at over $800/month. then we found our own coverage (through the very same provider no less! BCBS) for under $200/month! you might want to check into an individual family policy, it may be cheaper than shouldering your part of his office's cost.

good luck with this very difficult decision. i don't think i know anyone who feels they have found the perfect balance. i know for me that having as much time with her as possible is the only thing that brings me peace, even if it means the rest of life is totally insane.

Ms. Planner said...

Those pics are adorable!

I vote for asking telecommute X # of days a week. And what is up with not covering families on one's insurance?! Please, God, get a Democrat in the WH soon.

Oh, and I was reading your post on the lil' stickies sleepy time. I just read a great book on sleep and it cautions that you have to count from the due date not the birth date when it comes to sleep schedules. And that between 6-8 weeks is the rough time as babies transition. Good luck with it all. I'm right behind you sister, but with only one, so nowhere near as sleep deprived as you must be, my friend.

anna said...

What a cutie! The stickies are growing so fast! I think they're outgrowing my babes since mine are still in newborn clothes and newborn diapers. As for the work decision, I would just scale back on your involvement at work. If you're at all like me, this would be difficult, but your priorities have changed since having the stickies. You don't need to be the 100% career just need that salary so do your job just well enough to keep it.

Marie-Baguette said...

what an adorable baby! Can you do some freelance work? Can your hubby change jobs? can you find cheaper insurance (Freelancers union offers one to its members)? Can you reduce your lifestyle? Can you transfer within your company to a more interesting job? Can your hubby leave his work and take care of the stikkies? I work and I hate it too but I have to do it because of visa issues. I wanted to move to a better apt but I guess we are going to stay put just to save money in case the visa issue solves itself and I can quit. Good luck to you