People seemed to like my video where I talked about why I stopped having kids, so I’ve decided to make a video about why I left the workforce after having kids. Before we get into that I have a cold sore and I know it so you don’t need to comment about it. Second of all, sign up for this sites newsletter.
Okay, back to why I left the workforce when I had kids. This video is likely to make some of you mad so I’m gonna say this as a disclaimer. I am only speaking for myself right now. I’m talking about what worked for me and why, okay? It’s just what worked for me. I don’t know what works for you. A little bit of background. I had my first son after I completed my coursework in grad school and basically edited my thesis with him attached to me while breastfeeding. By the time he was nearing two and I was nearing the end of my thesis I was at the point in my career when I had to start thinking about what next.
For those of us who choose to get a doctorate what you usually do is you do a post doctorate which is another two years or so of research, or you can apply for teaching positions at various different levels. The questions came fast and furious. What are you gonna do after you get your doctorate? Where are you going to do your post doc? Where you going to put your kid in daycare? Instead of applying for post docs and researching daycare I did a crazy thing. I got pregnant again. Not by accident, ’cause I know how that works. I wanted another child and since I wanted 11 children at that time I knew I had to start having ’em ’cause I wanted to have ’em real close together. You have to do that if you want 11.
For the video on why I didn’t have 11 children you will have to wait. Ultimately, I got pregnant because I was prepared to and wanted to stay home with kids. What made the most sense to me was to be the primary caregiver for my children in their formative years. It’s not the choice that everyone makes and I know that it’s not the choice that everyone can make. I know that for many women there is no decision about whether or not to return to work. The choices are few and
poor and we need the support of our governments and our communities to make working less stressful for women and their children. So as an at home mom with
a PhD in neuroscience what did my life look like? I made meals for my family, I did a lot of laundry, I cooked, I took walks with my kids, I played with blocks. Sometimes I even got to sleep for more than three hours at a time without someone needing to nurse. I played a lot of board games with my husband while the kids were asleep. and I watched Lost. That was my life.
As my kids got older I ended up creating a neuroscience curriculum for junior high and high school kids in our home school community, and I taught. I also taught Hebrew school, I tutored kids in piano, I did a lot of things to make money. Do I wish that I had gone right back to work after having kids? Yes and no. Did I miss having adult interaction? Absolutely, I was immersed in a world of burp cloths and potty training and breastfeeding. I barely had a social life. I rarely left my children for more than a few hours. I had a few close friends who parented similarly and we leaned on each other for support and we got through it that way. Our lives got infinitely bigger and simultaneously infinitely smaller. Here’s the thing, I was with my kids for every moment that I wanted to be there for. I watched them try new foods, I watched them assemble adorable mismatched outfits, I watched them speak words for the first time. I was there for every bath and every boo boo and every tantrum and every cuddle. I was there for every flu, every vomit session, every checkup and everything in between. I was everything to my kids and they were everything to me.
For me staying home and throwing career caution to the wind was the choice that worked best for me. Was I worried that I might never find work again? Of course I was. Was I nervous I was missing out on adult life? I’m pretty sure I was. Do I judge women who don’t do it the way I did? Absolutely not. I’m not gonna lie, I do
wish that women would prioritize staying home with kids over work and success. I resent the fact that our culture emphasizes a lifestyle which pretty much can only be achieved by two people working. I know a lot of people who make choices such as not having fancy cars, or not going on nice vacations so that they can have one parent home with the kids, and ultimately as a society I think we do a terrible job of preparing women for motherhood.
Many women are astounded at how little sleep they get, how exhausted they’ll be, and how much their life has to change when they become a mother who has a dependent child. I’m not in charge of everyone. I’m barely in charge of myself and my kids. Was I the perfect mom all of the time? Hardly. Did I wanna scream and run away because I felt so incompetent as a parent? All the time. But with more support, lowered and healthy appropriate expectations, and a lot of self compassion
I was able to do it. The choice to stay home was not an easy one but I managed to make it work and I hope that I’ve inspired some of you to believe that you can make it work too if you want to. Let me know how you’re choosing to go about parenting as you embark on a career in the comments below.