I know I’m not the only woman who has struggled with the decision to go back to work after having children. That’s why I’m writing this article. To Work or Not to Work: That is the Question! Were you a career-oriented woman before having children? Deciding whether or not to return to work after having children can be a difficult decision.
For as long as I can remember, I wanted to work in healthcare. As a child I dreamed of having a career as a doctor, physical therapist or medical researcher. I always saw myself working in a hospital or medical office. I wanted to have a noble career helping people recover from illness. That feeling lived in my heart and I always knew that was where I wanted to be.
That’s me in the picture above. Small, full of hopes and dreams. Some little girls dream of their wedding day, some dream of being a dancer. I dreamt of being in a hospital or clinic setting helping the sick or injured. I also had an inner desire to be a mother. I absolutely loved baby dolls as a child. My heart would swell at the thought of a child calling me “Mommy”.
When I finished high school, there was no question in my mind what the next step was. I went straight to college. I knew I needed a higher education to get where I wanted to be. My thirst for knowledge and success always pushed me forward. I excelled in college, getting A’s in almost every class. My hopes of a healthcare career always in my sight. I visualized where I wanted to be and just went for it. After a solid 4 years of college, I graduated with a 3.9 GPA and a proud bachelors degree in Healthcare Administration with a minor in Business Administration. I was well on my way!
During college, I met the man of my dreams and was eager to marry him. As soon as I finished college, we ran off to Jamaica and got married. It was just the two of us and very romantic. After a few years of happy marriage, we decided to have our first child.
My First Child
My first son came into this world on a cool November morning. He was born via C-section, because he was Frank Breach. That means his butt was stuck in my pelvis and his legs went straight up in front of his body, with his feet near his head. Luckily, he was born healthy and came out screaming. But the moment I spoke to him, he quieted and turned towards me. It was love at first sight!
He was the sweetest, most precious baby in the world and I would’ve done anything to stay home with him. Unfortunately, at the time, we needed my income and the health insurance that came with my career. I sadly returned to work.
Going Back to Work
It was hard to leave my baby, but I did what I thought was best at the time. A few months passed and I got back into the swing of things. I was happy to settle back into my career, and I was proud of my accomplishments. Although it was a high-stress job, I felt like I was making a difference in the lives of children with cancer. It was truly rewarding.
Stress and Struggles
During my working days, I was away from the house for about 10 hours each day. My job was very demanding and I found it weighing on my patience and ability to be a caring, attentive mother. It wasn’t fair to anyone and it wasn’t healthy. I found myself sick all the time, head colds, cold sores, laryngitis. Not to mention, I had another baby in between this ongoing career. So now I had two kids, a husband and a full-time, high stress career.
I couldn’t give 100% to my family and 100% to my job. The math is illogical and I’m really an all or nothing kind of person. We each only have 100% of ourselves to give. Sometimes you have to make a tough decision and that’s what I did. Although, it wasn’t really how I had imagined and hoped it would go.
Leaving my Career
By the end of my 10 year career working with cancer patients (2 years with adults and 8 with kids), I became aware of a serious and ongoing issue with the drug management at the Children’s Hospital. The medications being given to our research patients weren’t being handled properly by the pharmacy. I brought the issue up to my supervisor time and time again. After dealing with the issue for well over a year, I finally put my foot down to protect the patients.
I would not be part of giving dying cancer patients bad drugs. It went against everything in my moral fiber.
To my dismay, the doctor I respected and worked so hard for refused to listen to my cries for help. When I told him I wouldn’t continue enrolling patients to get experimental drugs until the pharmacy issue was corrected, he said to me “I am the Principal Investigator and if I say it’s safe, it’s your job to enroll the patients. If you don’t feel comfortable with that, you can look for another job.” Shocking, I know!
So just like that my healthcare career ended.
Not only did I give my letter of resignation right then and there, but in that letter I clearly stated that I was resigning because I refused to be part of something that was morally wrong. Even though I gave a two week’s notice, I was immediately contacted by the Human Resources (HR) department and told not to return. I was to pick up my belongings from the security office. Can you believe that?! It was quite a shock and has taken me years to recover. Well, life goes on. I had a family to care for. So, on to the next phase of my life….
Staying Home (Kind of…)
Even though I considered staying home with the kids many times, it never really seemed like a good fit for me. Sure, it would be nice to have more time to spend with the kids, run errands and keep up with the house. But I always enjoyed working. I liked the adult interaction and sense of accomplishment that came with a career. But here I was, faced with being a “Stay At Home Mom”. It wasn’t something I ever thought I would do. My career defined me for so many years. I didn’t know how to relate to all the PTA and room Moms. It was a difficult transition to say the least.
Now that I’ve been home with my children for a few years, I really enjoy it. I have the time to enjoy extra hugs and cuddles in the morning. I volunteer in my children’s classroom, visit them at lunchtime and help with their homework. I have the time and energy to enjoy my husband’s company, without being overwhelmed by my home duties. My house is clean (most of the time) and I make healthy, home cooked meals. I’m much more relaxed and at ease with day to day life.
I will admit, deep down I’m a “worker”. Even though I’m home with my kids, I still work. It’s just on my terms. I run this blog and have a line of natural and organic products I created. These things are my passion and this type of work puts me in control. I’m no longer a slave to my 9-5. I no longer take call on nights and weekends or stay late and miss making dinner for my family. I’m here, I’m present and I give 100% to my family. This is the perfect balance for me!
Choosing to stay home or return to work after having children can be a difficult decision. As a mother and career-oriented woman, I had my own personal struggles with the choice. It’s important to find a healthy balance. Never neglect your own mental and physical health. Even if you return to work, find time to relax and pamper yourself. Your family depends on you and you deserve it. My personal balance came from creating a business and being self-employed.
I would love to hear your thoughts and stories about returning to work after having children. Each story is unique and deserves to be told. Leave me a comment, let’s support each other. To Work or Not to Work: That is the Question!
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