The argument over whether women should stay home or work outside the home has always bothered me.
It's such a deeply personal decision. There is no "right" answer. Just because you stay home with your children, it doesn't mean you're a better mother than a mom who works outside the home. And vice versa. People from both sides tend to be so judgemental. Some women who stay at home tend to think they are better parents, and some women who work outside the home think stay at home moms have no life.
I have never thought it was black and white. To me, it's a personal decision. What's right for me isn't necessarily right for you.
I chose to go back to work after my daughters were born. I'm not saying it was easy. The first days back were always so hard, and I absolutely dreaded it during the weeks leading up to it. But, once I got in the swing of things I enjoyed it. I've always been very career-oriented and I loved being productive at work.
Yes, my children had to go to daycare. (Actually, Ann Catherine didn't go the first year of her life because she was so premature. She stayed home with my mom instead). I loved the social interaction my children got at daycare. And I loved what they learned. And when I got home at night, Chris and I gave them our undivided attention. No TV, no internet, no reading newspapers - we spent uninterrupted time with them until they went to bed.
But there are cons to working outside the home. If my kids woke up sick during the night, it threw me into a tailspin. What would we do the next morning? Luckily, my parents live here and my mom would help me out. But sometimes they were out of town. Then, I always felt guilty sending my kids to my mom's house for her to take care of them instead of me. I wanted to be the one to console them and love them. At the Foundation, I had a wonderful boss who would let me work from home when my kids were sick. But, sometimes I had an important meeting or something that just couldn't be cancelled. I always hated leaving them.
About six months ago, I felt like God was telling me he wanted me to stay home with my kids. I was confused at first. I had a job that I loved and my kids were happy at their daycare.
Even so, I kept feeling like he was telling me to slow down. I realized that in just two years Ann Catherine will start kindergarten and at that time, she'll have to go to school full time. I also realized that this was time I could never get back. My biggest fear was that five years down the road I would look back and wish I had spent more time with them. At that point, I wouldn't be able to do anything about it.
I started praying, "God, if this is what you want for us, please make it clear and please open the doors." Without going into detail, I can tell you he opened a series of doors for us, and Chris and I realized this was what he wanted for our lives.
A couple of weeks after Swim for Melissa, I told my boss of my decision. My boss, Candy, is also a dear friend of mine. She hated to see me go, but she completely understood my decision. My last day on the job at the Foundation is this Friday. Having said that, please understand that this in no way diminishes my commitment to the Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund. It goes without saying that the Fund is an integral part of our lives. Our hearts are with this Fund. Even when I worked full-time at Channel 19, Chris and I were very hands-on with Melissa's Fund. We will continue to do that and to carry out our mission of giving premature infants the best healthcare possible.
I feel good about leaving at this time. In just three years, Melissa's Fund has raised $600,000 for the NICU. Isn't that amazing?! I take absolutely no credit for that. When Chris and I started Melissa's Fund, I turned it over to God and told him he was going to have to carry us, because I didn't know if I could do it. I give him all the glory for what we've been able to do. Also, without the people in the community who have donated to Melissa's Fund, we could not have carried out this mission.
I plan to continue my blog. I started this while I was on maternity leave with Lily as a way to keep viewers updated. I love posting and have created some wonderful "blog" friendships. I've learned that many parents who have walked in our shoes and dealt with the loss of a child or a stay in NICU read this blog. I want to continue to use it to reach out to others.
Please pray for me as I start this new chapter with my girls. As excited as I am, I'm also a little nervous. I have always worked outside the home and I know it will be a different experience. I still plan to send them to daycare a couple of days a week. I would be lying if I said I wasn't excited about using that time to also get some things done. When you work outside the home full-time, it's just impossible to get some things done. I feel like I use the weekends to get all of those other things done, and it gets pretty tiring. Chris is pretty excited about me cooking. Ha - he might change his mind once he eats it :)
Thanks to those of you who have encouraged me. And to all you moms out there, just remember: no matter what you choose to do, if you are doing what you feel is best for you and your family, then it's the right decision.