Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The end of this long series: Just the two of us, we can make it if we try!


I think we’ve about reached the end of this thread. First I want to say thanks for all of the blog and facebook comments. I keep hearing that people are reading but it is nice to see some evidence of that and to stimulate some discussion and new thoughts for me as well (even though it is MY blog it is nice to not do all the talking sometimes). I really appreciated the supportive comments from old and new friends and the reminder that other women have had similar experiences. It is always nice to know I am not alone and I am so happy to hear about other perspectives and ways of doing things. Please feel free to comment in the future, even if you feel we aren’t great friends or it’s been awhile. It was so nice to hear from you.

So what comes next? Contrary to what I said earlier in jest, I knew once I got into dental school that this was not a back-up plan. I knew I was in for the long haul. I knew I was crossing over from full-time SAHM to at least part time working mom territory. I knew this isn’t a career where you get your degree, take time off while your kids are young, and return in 15 years without a hang-up. This was something I would have to either keep up or probably give up completely.

I wasn’t willing to give it up.

Unlike my choice to go to dental school which I made on my own, I did have a husband to consult when I decided to pursue residency. I didn’t always plan on specializing but again, I felt very strongly about continuing my training when I got closer to graduation. Yes, I had recurring and fresh concerns about how I would make this work as the goal of a family was even more tangible as a married person. But it still felt right. It was helpful to have someone to make the decision with this time around and he was very supportive. I don’t remember him once questioning me. He has been patient and helpful during this time. I feel so lucky to have a husband who does dishes (he is doing them right now!), laundry, makes lunches, gives me early morning rides, and isn’t afraid to do “woman’s work” if it means making our family work. I know he looks forward to the day he will be a parent and I appreciate his willingness to put that off while I complete my training. Just like I expected to be a SAHM, I bet he expected to marry a SAHM (he would never say that…he wouldn’t want to risk hurting my feelings, but I suspect it must be true). I think about that sometimes and hope our new life will be even better than what he expected, even if some of his goals are delayed .

People often ask me about my timeline for children. It really is hard to say. Up to this point I just haven’t felt the inspiration that it is the right time. I hope when it is I will know. They also ask me how it will work. Right now I really am unsure. I hope eventually it will mean a flexible schedule where my husband and I are both able to find time to be home with our children. I hope it will mean having some days off or even working strange hours (7-3 to pick up kids from school?). And I am sure it will mean some combination of babysitters/nannies/daycare. The good thing is that we can do it however we want! I am lucky to have a husband who is flexible and helpful and doesn’t feel constrained to stick to the traditional family model of man working, woman at home. I can see us both being part time stay-at-home parents!

In the meantime, I am trying to enjoy our time together, just us!

P.S. I would love to hear how you make it work in your family! I’m always looking for new ideas for the future.


Diana said...

Mark's residency and fellowship have not been so forgiving in terms of time (though he is the organized, official cleaner of our house and a great cook as well!). Thankfully, I have been blessed with a lot of flexibility in my chosen field. For 2 years I had to put in full-time work as a mom, but I established a great reputation for myself that helped others to bend over backwards to accommodate my request for a flexible, part-time schedule after Ella was born. I think the key is making up your mind that you can balance things (and being realistic about what you can and can't do). For me, I end up getting very little sleep at night because I have so much to do when the kids go to bed. (I try to maximize my time with them when they are awake.) I've been thinking through what I want to do when we move to Utah, and I was wondering if I could find the same great flexibility. Thankfully, it looks like I might be able to swing a part-time faculty appointment with a prestigious group that I communicated my desire for balance to. Erin, you are doing so much great work now, and I know that this hard work upfront will help you when it comes time to navigate the part-time path. I have also had the perfect positions/situations emerge and knew which positions would not work and felt entirely prompted about the specific route to take. You will be entitled to the same thing!! It's tough to juggle, but I know that you can do it!

Heidi Henderson said...

You go girl! I'm proud of you!!!! No advice from me... I'm still the single one... ha ha

Colt said...

I enjoyed reading this series!

I had a good thought stream the other night evaluating the subject on daycare. I think daycare is frowned down upon in Utah because it implies a working mother...I realized that I was subjected to and ingrained with societal stigmas on the matter that--however weren't really my own--were present on some subconscious level.

I think it is great to be a stay at home mother... When I get married I don't want to marry a girl to be just my wife, I am going to marry her to be the mother of my children... because no other person will have a greater effect on my children's character. I DON'T think the mere presence of the mother being there all day long is the necessary factor to those greatest returns. I think having a strong mother that shows drive, ambition, independence, and social achievement has a lot to draw from, ( especially in this day and age), than someone that showed they were willing when called upon to "sacrifice" by being home all day. Our mom wasn't like this, and then there are some great examples like Kristen who are strong intelligent women who play very proactive roles in their children's lives... but it seemed like a lot of my friend's moms just layed around watching daytime tv all day haha.

I also think that going to daycare benefits social development... and like you said... five years later they will be in school all day, and five years after that they'll be out being busy on their own too. If one really wanted to blunt about it... you could almost make the argument that the benefit from just the economic perspective alone can provide for some of the biggest gains and opportunities in the children's lives... but you can still be a great mother on top of that.

Erin said...

Diana, I hope to follow your example and find a job that just works! I can't believe how little you sleep, I couldn't do that.

Colton, thanks for your thoughts. I totally agree that being a good mom is more than just being home. It probably isn't better to plop your kids in front of the tv all day than to have someone interact with them at daycare through games and activities.

Heidi, you are great! I really admire you and you will be an amazing mom one day.

Camber said...

Erin, I read your whole series and loved it. I really appreciate you sharing your story and perspective on this. It's something I've struggled with a LOT--from my time in undergrad when I decided not to pursue the medical school route (because I was afraid it would interfere with having a family) to recently deciding to move forward with grad school even though I was expecting a baby. I agonized about that decision a lot, feeling guilty for even wanting to go, even though I'd wanted to have kids for a long time. I even second-guessed my decision once I had the baby. But I really think that personal revelation is just that--personal. Everyone needs to figure out what's right for THEM. Some women in their undergrad decide to go to medical school anyway, and some people accepted to grad school when they're pregnant would decide to drop out. All those scenarios are totally fine--everyone has a different path, different opportunities to do good, and different capabilities. It's so hard in the LDS faith when we mistakenly think there is only 1 right way of doing things, and there's not. There is so much good you can do with additional education, and there's a lot of good you can do as a mother. Who's to say there's a magic combination of those two things that is "righteous" and any other possibility is unacceptable? Thanks for putting your story out there--I think it's a great reminder to everyone that there are multiple paths for even a good, faithful LDS woman to take.

Joe'n'Jess said...

I've really enjoyed reading these blog posts, because I love learning about the journey that influences people's decisions and personalities. It's also lead me to reflect a lot on my own journey and how I feel about it. The conclusion I've come to is that there is peace and safety in the Lord, and His revelation to each person is priceless. I think that the world is such a contradictory and confusing place, and Satan eats away at us any way he can. Where you were met with criticism about becoming a professional woman, I've felt society telling me that I've sold myself short for staying home and having children. Or that I'd do my kids much more good by making something of myself in the world. There are people who just don't understand how their own logic and learning can be different from others'; If it doesn't make sense to them, then it shouldn't make sense to anyone. Ultimately we just have to tune out judgments, pressures, and criticism and trust that our own personal revelation will take us on the right path. I congratulate you for doing so- despite all of the hardships that dental school and residency brings (my poor husband went bald from the stress). The Lord will continue to help you navigate motherhood whenever and however you choose to pursue it.

michele said...

There's nothing wrong with hiring a capable and loving nanny to care for your kids while you're at work. I live in Cambodia right now and we have a full-time nanny even though I only work part-time. And it's awesome! When I'm not at work the nanny cooks and cleans. I cherish every moment with my daughter instead of counting down the hours until bedtime. I am emotionally more stable and a better mom to her. So that's my experience for what it's worth. In the US we wouldn't be able to afford a full-time nanny but some people can and it really works for them.