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The Mommy Job

Back when I worked for a Hebrew publishing house in Albany, my boss (hi Claudia!) used to talk about the benefits of having a “mommy job” if you were a mother. The mommy job is part-time and ideally has flexible hours. It provides enough intellectual stimulation that you can flex your mental muscles and remember your pre-baby self, but it doesn’t involve enough time or stress to distract from parenting.

I only half-listened to this advice when it was offered because at the time I was obsessed with finding a “real job”* and had no immediate interest in childbearing. Flash forward six years: I have had a real job for seven years and a baby for three months. Suddenly, I’m incredibly interested in the mommy job.

I blogged here that I went back to work on January 2. What I did not blog about–as was still in negotiations with my company–is that I requested part-time work and had decided not to return in a full-time capacity. This was a decision that came much more easily than I expected. When I left for maternity leave, I was coming off my worst year ever professionally and was quite burnt out. Still, I could not see how I could walk away from a “real job” after having wanted one for so long. Who would I be without a full-tiime job? How would I answer those “what do you do?” questions? Where else could I work once Simon was older? What else could I do? It was terrifying.

So I researched local daycare and quickly investigated the three good choices that were suggested to me. Options 1 & 2 have waiting lists that are longer than the gestation period for babies (How is that possible?), while Option 3 was less well known and so had a much shorter list. Excellent! Or so I thought until right before Christmas, when I got a Dear John letter from Option 3 telling me that too few babies graduated to the toddler room and therefore they had no space for Simon.

So there it was. I was due back at work in less than a month and had no childcare. At my salary, a nanny is not a reaistic option. And frankly, the past weeks had been so blissful, which I expected, and so profoundly life altering, which I had not anticipated, that I was OK with being on my own. In a way, the Dear John letter gave me permission to follow my heart and stay home with Simon.

Everything I’ve read indicates I should be torn about this choice: I should be worried about my next job, next career, lost networking, lost brain cells, etc. But I’m not worried much at all! And if you know me or have read much of this blog, you know that me not worrying is like Nicole Kidman showing up at the Oscars in sweatpants. It’s simply inconceivable. OK, maybe I’m a smidge worried. But only just a smidge.

Mostly, I’m rolling with it. It looks like I’ll be doing 1/2 my current job for 1/2 the pay for as long as I and my company are happy with the arrangement. My current position is an experiment and comes with no benefits and no job security. I have demoted myself right out of the “real job”. On the other hand, I can also take Simon for walks at 1 p.m., nurse him during the day, and let him sleep and feed on his own schedule. Paradise.

So here’s to the mommy job! Whether it be this one or another, I am content at the present to work a little now and save the “real job” for later.

* A “real job”, as I have internalized the term, has a title people understand, is with a company people are familiar with, entails at least 40 hrs a week, and includes a benefits package and corporate credit card.

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