Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Having Baby and Going to Work

By Christina VanGinkel

I have been a stay at home mother for nearly twenty years. I have worked during this time, but as a freelance writer and craft designer, all of which I was able to participate in from the comfort of my own home. I attended a few craft shows through the years, selling handcrafted art. In addition, I am again toying with the idea of venturing back into this field, in part for the money, and in part to just get out into the real world now and then in a larger capacity than as a body standing in a generic checkout line. I did employ the occasional sitter for the times I had a two-day show, but the normal routine was to leave the children in the care of my husband.

Today, as more and more young mothers go off to work within the first year of their baby's birth, oftentimes within the first few weeks after giving birth, I am constantly in amazement at how they do it. With my youngest now thirteen years old, I cannot imagine having to head out the door at the same time he does, or before, and not being there in the afternoon when he arrives home. I know many mothers who do, some out of necessity, some out of a personal need to work outside of the home. I commend them, as there have been times that I actually wished I did work outside the house, but then I remember that I would have to get dressed in more than my usual attire of jeans and a sweatshirt. (For your information, my idea of getting dressed up means finding a pair of jeans and a t-shirt that have no obvious holes or stains in them.)

I bring this all up, because I know a young mother who has two toddlers, and out of financial necessity, is heading into the workforce. She has to arrange daycare to go on job interviews, and for the time she would be employed. None of this can be left to the last minute, as it will be very difficult for her to find quality daycare as it is, let alone last minute. She also has to work out arrangements on what to do if one of her children is ill and cannot go to the regular daycare. She has no spouse to rely on, so this must all be handled by her. When I asked her how hard it was to do it on her own, she replied that it was a bit, but that things would work out. She would not change a thing, other than having a magic wand to pick a reliable sitter maybe!

I know of another situation where the mother is actually a doctor, and though she had what she deemed competent daycare, she ended up taking her toddler along to the office on a regular workday as her sitter just never showed up. She has a husband, but he was out of town for business. She works in a small clinic, and canceling her patients for the day was not an option available. This happens occasionally she said, not a big thing.

A third young mother I know is working in much the same field as me, though she does interviews. She also has been known to show up with a toddler in tow. So far, this has worked out, but there may come a day that it does not. She does not feel that her income would support a sitter, and tries to schedule meetings around her husband's schedule, though this does not always pan out.

Three different mothers, three different scenarios, each with their own difficulties, yet each of these mothers would not trade their lives for anything. They love their children and are more than happy to try to make it work. Whether you are a stay at home mother, or work outside the house, you will have your own select challenges in raising your children. I hope you find a bit of the aplomb each of these three mothers seem to! I sure wish I could.

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