Wanting the best for our kids is what we all want right? Whether parents work full time, part time or are 'at home', that's what we all want.
For our family that meant a parent being 'at home' for the vast majority of at least our kids first years, you know when their brains are developing like this. And that parent was probably always going to be me. I was not the main breadwinner and it's more likely that I'll be able to pick up where I left off in my career when I return to working more hours.
It wasn't an easy or straightforward decision and is something we re evaluate regularly. Is this the best way for all of us?
And for just now with a 4 year old and a 2 year old, the answer is yes. I work in school for 1 and half days, with obviously preparation and planning work at home. Greig works long hours, is away from home for 12 hours on weekdays and the majority of childcare and house stuff would still fall to me if I was working outside of the home more. At the moment we have the considerable gift of freely given and free top quality childcare courtesy of grandparents, if we were paying I'd almost definitely be paying to go to work.
So that's the practical stuff, the stuff that on paper makes the decision for us. But the emotional stuff, that's much more difficult to quantify. I often think what's the alternative? If I was working full time I'd be contributing (more) financially to my family. I'd be able to buy more stuff, we'd be able to go on more expensive holidays, we'd have an upgraded car, we'd be able to realise our dreams for the house.
I'd be contributing to society in a wider sense, making a (small) difference perhaps? I'd be contributing to the national economy. I'd be achieving things that can be recognised in yearly appraisals, maybe working towards a new role or promoted post.
My children (especially my daughter) would have a working woman role model, they would see me going out everyday to work. People wouldn't shrug when I explain I'm taking time out of the working world. People wouldn't glibly suggest I'm lazy, or work-shy or not very bright or married to a wealthy man. None of those things are true, Greig is fabulously handsome but alas not fabulously wealthy.
I'd be using the education I worked hard to gain. Those first class degrees don't come easy you know.
I wonder am I failing at feminist principles by embracing such a traditional, gender driven role, staying at home?
But the flip side? I'd have missed a million stories, games, kisses, firsts, seconds, songs, laughs, cuddles, drawings and the best company I've ever had the pleasure to be in. It's a visceral experience having children, and from the moment they arrived I've felt an overwhelming need to try my best to meet their needs. I want to influence and guide their environment and experiences if I can. I want them to hear it from me, feel it from me, taste it with me, see it with me. If that suggests I'm a control freak who thinks I'll do it better than anyone else , then that's probably true. It's too big a responsibility to not take on myself. This is important.
I also like this pace of life for me. I like it. I rarely have to rush or plan very far ahead. I've learned to knit and sew and take decent photographs. I write this blog and people like you are kind enough to read it. It suits my personality to be a homebody, others might find it crushingly boring.
Becoming a parent is somewhat like being taken apart and put back to together again. Finding things that you're good at, finding things you're truly terrible at and working out what makes you tick. I don't want to just wait this time out while my kids are young before I get back to 'real life'. It appears that in spending your time raising others you get a real insight into yourself. I suspect the things I've learned in the past 5 years and will continue to learn will be the most valuable time I've ever spent.