The Guilt of Staying Home after Baby

Have you all noticed the shift in what the average American household consists of? If you are unsure of what I am exactly implying, I mean… have you ever looked at the roles of the family members… or seen what society has turn into; and wonder what the hell happened?
The times where mom stayed home and dad went to work, had off the weekends and the kids played outside seems like such a distant, old-timer way of life. Today, a more typical household consists of two working adults, children who go to daycare/ school during the day. By night, homework is done on tablets, and coordination for child drop off and pick up between shifts, doubles and overtime during the rest of the week is discussed. The whole family plays catch up on the weekends with tasks such as heaping loads of laundry, food shopping, cleaning and prep for the Monday to come. Sounds great right? Thank goodness for the two weeks paid vacation that most workers get… but be careful you or your kids do not get sick because that time will be eaten up before summer.
How often do you see girls on facebook or other social media, commenting about their childcare, or complaining about their current daycare and are looking for suggestions? Average daycare costs between 4,000 and 22,000 a year depending on the area (https://www.thebalance.com/what-is-the-average-cost-of-daycare-and-how-can-you-budget-for-it-4172761) So lets use a middle player and say that the average family spends about 12 grand per kid, per year on daycare, or 1 thousand a month (per kid). Seems expensive right? But, is anyone really willing to cheap out when it comes to care of their own child and peace of mind? No, of course not… and daycares know this, so people are forced to pay these extreme rates. Meanwhile, the national average for people who work, with no college education is only between 24,000 and 36,500gs… you do the math.
Some people may get lucky  end up with a good job that has perks and they are able to work their way up… some people have to work a shit ton of overtime. Some people try to juggle school and work, and in some cases, it works out well (with years of anguish, followed by reward of course) other cases, people just end up with a degree that will make life slightly easier, but then have to worry about student loans, which are sometimes equivalent or more than a car payment and have inflated along with everything else in society. And we all know someone, or multiple people, who just have a lot of “support” from family, and things such as finances, just seem to always “work themselves out”.
So, it’s safe to say most couples have a similar situation… both trying to pitch in for finances, both trying to juggle the kids… and house work. HOUSE work (lol)… lets’ face it, how many people even actually have a house? Not many. Actually… most people do not even have a chance to mortgage a home until after they are 30… if ever. By the time there is money for a down payment, or credit scores are high enough or the right house comes along  it could be lifetime. A lot of people get stuck in the oh-so-common renter’s situation… enough money for the first and last month of rent, plus security deposit and then get stuck with rent increases every year. Because lets face it, the increase is more manageable than the initial fees, plus the inconvenience of moving is not something one looks forward to on an annual bases… all these components ultimately lead to a prevention of any savings for a home.

If you are under the age of 35 and reading this, I am pretty sure most of you all can relate or have been in the situation once upon a time (or maybe you are lucky enough to have figured it out.) Most of you guys can say, “Hey honey, that sounds like our weeks.” Or “Hmm.. I have student loans that high.” Or “Wow, I have been renting for a really long time.” Or “Damn, good thing I can write my daycare off on my taxes.” Whatever your situation, the fact of this matter is  life is usually biting your ass somewhere along the lines.
Its funny to think about this though. When did having children become such an institutionalized condition? When did mortgages become so hard to get approved for? When did the housing market become so impossible? When did apartment complexes become so expensive? When did education start causing so much debt? When did descent blue-colored jobs become so far and few between and why do half of these jobs now require some sort of college degree or trade school certification?
The answer is simple actually… its when the role of men and women conjoined. Some people will see where I am going with this. Others probably think I am about to go on some political rant and start blaming the government for our hardships. But actually, my problem is with women. The self-righteous, vagina-glorifying, “equality-right” seeking – women. I once had a girl introduced to me as “Our crazy feminist friend”. I giggled and shook her hand and the first thing that came out of her mouth was, “Don’t you think we should get equal pay for doing the same job?” Not wanting to start an argument with this woman I just met, over a very complicated question with multiple variables, I answered, “Sure.” But as soon as this brief interaction was over, I knew she would never be someone that I could handle too closely. Now, before you all think I am a judgmental bitch for saying that  hear me out: I have no problem with different political views or religious views; I hold my views highly and dearly and with reason, and if asked, I would gladly explain my perceptive… but I would never try to push my beliefs on anyone (except for my husband lol, but luckily we discussed these possible issue-causing topics and it turns out: they are not an issue for us), nor are either topics things I freely speak about. I would much rather talk about other light-hearted stuff and laugh my ass off… because honestly, who gives a fuck if I went to church or where my political views stand.
But these women… the women who have “such big hearts” and fight for justice and equality and “choice”… these women are the ones who have turned society into what it is today. It is funny, because everything that they have fought for, took away from other aspects. Hear me out before you think I am a judgmental bitch again with a “simpleton” way of thinking.
Can I ask something? Do men and women have all the same goals, ideas and visions? Usually no… usually no two people even have the same goals, ideas and visions  usually there is a role difference. Usually when two people come together as a team, they are not the exact same person, they have different goals, ideas and visions  they add different components to the relationship  these different concepts that the 2 DIFFERENT individuals acquire are usually what builds the foundation for their relationship and in turn, how they become a functional team. Let’s face it, marriage, union/ whatever you want to call it, is all about team work.
But these women, their goal… their reason for existing, is to conform everything. They want everything to be the same; everyone to have the same opportunity; every choice to be available. To the naked eye, it might sound nice to a woman… “sure, I’d like to get paid the same… I want to be able to do everything he can… I want that freedom.” But let’s face it, life does not work like that and things that are given are taken from somewhere else. SO… let us look at what exactly is happening when all this “freedom” is given to women…
The average starter home is around 200k depending on where you are living. In order to avoid particular insurances, 20% is usually asked, plus closing costs & realtor fees, or if you do not have 20%, closing costs, realtor fees plus an extra insurance tacked onto the mortgage payment every month. Not to mention lawyer fees, inspections, certification of occupancy and your time! Getting into a house is literally draining!! Mortgage companies pretty much want your first-born child before they give you a chance to be approved for lending… and unless you have a measly 200k sitting around, you are at their mercy.
If you take a look back into the 1940s, the average house went for about 3 grand… by the 80s the housing market jumped and the average house was about 47 grand… and by the year 2000, houses were going for about 120k. Even with inflation, the average home should have only been at 30.6k based off of the 1940s household value. (https://www.cnbc.com/2017/06/23/how-much-housing-prices-have-risen-since-1940.html) It is expected for home prices to rise over time, yes, but what was happening after 1940 that caused such an increase is housing prices? You guessed it!! An increase in working women!
According to the Census Bureau, the median household income increased by 6% for the single-earning families in 1980, but jumped to 42% for the double-earning families. With household incomes on the rise, guess what? Everything else followed. The housing market… cars… child care services…education… Everything was on the rise, expect one thing wages. Wages never increased. So yeah… there is twice as much money coming into the household, but that’s only because double the amount of people are working. BUT GUESS WHAT…. Now everything else costs double! Which in turn, makes life pretty much impossible, unless you have a partner in income! Thank you girls!! You fought so hard for our “right to work”, welp, you got your wish. But guess what, we still need a man, or another woman (whichever way you swing) because if you do not have a “college-degree-earing” job… good luck trying to get into a house. And if you do have said job… have fun paying your mortgage, insurances, possible car payments and most likely your student loans by yourself… hope you had that 20% to put down on the house or have fun paying that PMI.
Reading this, you might be thinking one of two things… either, “damn, this person makes sense” or “haha, this person must be mad about something.” To be honest, I am mad about something, and I do hope what I am writing makes sense. I am not sure of the mental picture you may have painted of who I am while reading this; but I will let you know. I am a woman… a young woman in my mid-twenties with a bachelor’s degree in Nursing. I have experience working in physical rehabilitation, dealing with people who have suffered traumatic brain injuries and I have also dabbled in operating rooms, where I assisted with procedures from delivering babies to draining infected wounds and anything and everything having to do with a colon.
Now after reading that, maybe you are confused… after all, I just ranted on, negatively, about women. But I did not finish about myself. I am not just an educated, working woman. I am also a mom… and that title is what led me to this rant.
First let me explain my pregnancy journey. I got pregnant right after my 26th birthday, right as I accepted my new job and right as I was dropped from my parent’s health insurance. Obviously needing lab work, doctor’s visits and everything else medical that goes along with the first trimester of being pregnant, I needed to figure out my insurance gap. Because I worked… because I got an education and I made a decent living, for me to buy health insurance, it costed $750.00 a month. What could I do though? I was at a pivotal point in my life and we; the baby and I, needed healthcare… and I still had 90 days before I was insured. Welp.. there goes a little over 2 grand. The rest of my pregnancy, while I was insured was filled with normal co-payments and global fees and other lab charges that were expected, but it was not until after my baby was born that I was truly annoyed.
The entire pregnancy, co-workers kept asking, “Have you looked up daycares?” “Which one do you like?” “Which one is closer to your husband’s job” “Are you going to pump?” “This is the formula I used…” And honestly, it made me sick. Growing up, being the oldest of 8 children, my mom always stayed home, while dad went to work, and honestly certain things were tight, but mostly it worked out very well; having two distinct roles. Mom handles household… dad funds household. But… seeing that growing up, I guess it became my norm, so I never grew up saying, “God… I cannot wait to have kids so I can throw them in daycare with formula all week and go be a career woman.”
As I got older, I did end up going to school. Took me 6 years to graduate from a community college, but I got my degree and I was debt free. I chose nursing because I love being depended on… I love when people come to me for advice and I love watching people overcome battles. I also chose nursing because of the shifts and vast working environments I had to choose from. After school, I did sign up for an online curriculum to obtain my Bachelor’s, since it is almost a requirement at this point to be hired; I put myself on a payment plan, which luckily saved me from racking up any interest, and I can happily say that I obtained my second degree, also debt free.
Anyway… as my pregnancy continued, I maintained my full-time job and online curriculum. I worked up until I was 41 weeks and 3 days pregnant. For those who have been pregnant before, I am sure you can imagine my fatigue. Waking up, operating on people for 8 hours… going home and writing 8 page papers and then having to worry about cooking, cleaning, showering and the 20 thousand toilet trips to pee all day; I can honestly say, I have never been that worn in my life. But to continue … 16 days after my due date, I finally gave birth my baby boy. What a whirlwind of emotions; there were places in my heart woke that I never knew existed, and just when I thought I could not love anything or anyone more than I had loved my son, the next day would come along, and I loved him even more. It was almost uncomfortable; this bond between a mother and baby. As the love grew, it became apparent to me that I was not okay with leaving him for any longer than his nap times. Panic started to set in; how will I go to work… I do not trust those daycares… I just want to nurse my baby… I cannot and will not leave him.
It actually made me sick! 6 weeks is all they would give me. 42 days. After growing him for 42 weeks and pushing him out, 42 days was all I was given to get my baby acclimated to the environment, get on a sleeping schedule, maintain my leaking and sore breasts on an unnatural pumping schedule, create a bond and then mentally prepare myself for separation. (Just to put things in perspective for you: most dog breeders do not even sell off their puppies until they are at least 8 weeks old, yet here I am, a woman – a human… and I am supposed to drop my flesh and blood off to some institution for hours on end, while I “get back to work”). Oh don’t worry ladies… all the daycares have video cameras and you receive text logs about your child’s days now, it’s like your right there with them!  that was sarcasm by the way. For me, I could not do it. I would stare at my baby and cry hysterics just thinking about leaving him with anyone; even if Jesus himself resurrected, I would still rather the baby be with me. Realizing our financial situation, I knew that my family did rely on my income for comfort, so it came with a tremendous amount of guilt when I asked my husband if we could make it without me going to work. For me, there are more important things than financial comfort. I know some moms have their parents that are able to babysit, other moms have great trust in daycares, some hire nannies, other moms work from home, some women are just housewives; moral of the story, there are hundreds of different scenarios. Nobody said having a baby would be easy and from experience, I can say that having a baby is not the hard part, but it’s the decisions that need to be made afterwards.
Because of today’s society, the norm being a household with 2 incomes; my hopes and dreams of what I wanted for a family, are almost unattainable, and I am sure I am not alone in this thought. Because of my education, because of my “adult” status, because of the financial requirements to have anything these days, I am being robbed. Robbed of a vision that I wanted for myself and for my family.
To tie everything together, women are to be blamed for this robbery. The women who fought so hard for our “equal” opportunity. This freedom that is given to us has taken away from a true virtue. It is almost impossible for a middleclass woman to stay home with her children. The ironic part about all of this, is that these women are always speaking about “empowerment”. You want to know what is empowering? Being a mother… being there for your kids… watching them grow and knowing that you had an active role in shaping who they are and everything they know… But, today’s age, people are not consumed with this empowerment. Empowerment today revolves around materialistic things, busy schedules, who is more tired, who goes on more vacations, how many times one hits the gym, who has the better posts online, ect. I am unsure of when empowerment became such a measurable, shallow aspect in life, but it seems that bonds between mothers and children are becoming less important and even less attainable in today’s world. For me, this is sad.
After deciding to not return to work right away, I received a slew of comments from all angles. “You are wasting your education.” “You can work nights.” “Your husband cannot do this without you.” “Your brain will turn to mush.” “Who are you doing this for?”
As a new mom, I can say I was not the most confident person, so these comments were taken harshly. I questioned my every move, I put myself in very dark places at night when all I had was thinking time, I felt guilt every time a bill came in the mail, but one thing I never questioned: I always felt I was doing the 100% right thing for my baby and that was the ultimate goal- the reason for all of my decisions.
Another fun fact about my journey… since I did not return to work, the baby was never put on my insurance that I had during birth and for the six weeks of leave. Since I did not return to work, the baby was not covered, therefore we were left with all of the medical expenses. How is this fair? I worked up until passed my due date, full time and gave birth in the hospital I worked at! Luckily, there was a deduction because of my employment status at the time of birth, but I just do not understand how this is fair. This also added to the anguish I endured inside my thoughts about my life decisions post-partum.
Luckily, I was able to find insurance for me and the baby, as hubby’s job’s plans were almost laughable. I was in shock that such plans even existed and were offered. Shopping for insurance, sending every document relating to income and organizing the doctor’s bills took about three months. Three months of my time… every time the baby napped I was on the phone; Every morning I woke up, I was checking emails and bill statuses; Every night I would cry and stress out about the debt that seemed so crazy to me. I just did not understand how he was not covered, but I was during the birth; I feel like this should be illegal as it does not make sense! If the mother is covered, why would the baby not automatically be assumed to need health insurance after being born?
As time goes on, I still receive comments about my working status and questions about our financial situation and my decisions. I can say that at this point, I am still not 100% comfortable with my life, but I am 100% happy. My baby is 8 months now and although we have our struggles, we cannot enjoy regular date nights, our savings accounts had to be put to use and I am constantly couponing and negotiating between needs and wants, I have figured a way to make it work. Sometimes I sit back and an overwhelming feeling of guilt will sweep over me  I should get back to work, I need to start pitching in, we do not have to live this simply  but then I look over in the living room and see my baby playing with his toys, being comfortable in his environment, chasing his dog, getting to nap when he wants in his bed, getting to be comforted by his mother during the day, going on daily walks in his carriage and ultimately just being in his element, and it makes me realize that I am not doing this for me, I am doing this for him and I should not feel guilty for putting my son first and what I think is best. Society has an inevitably annoying way of putting ideas of how things should be and it honestly takes a toll on people. Slowly but surely, I am growing more confident as a mother, wife, homemaker and as MYSELF; which is important… sometimes loosing yourself is the easiest thing to do when you are being pulled in so many directions.
Being an empowered woman has many definitions. Having 101 things to do during the day can be empowering. But being happy and making what YOU want work is also fulfilling, so I am making the bed I want to sleep in and prioritizing for the present. I am not working, so guess what… we probably won’t get approved for a mortgage. I probably cannot get that pedicure, or that shirt… or go on that vacation. But while I am renting and my husband works a couple hours of overtime each week, I do get the peace of mind everyday that my child is safe under MY supervision… when he wakes up 2 or 3x during the night, I am not angry and viciously doing subtraction to see how many minutes of sleep I have left for the night… when he gets sick, I am there to take care of him… everyday, I am reading to him, rocking him and playing with him. The housework is no longer put on the backburner, but rather kept up with every day, the way I want it.
Getting to spend money without thought is a luxury that some people have… but why does spending time with your child also have to be a luxury? It’s a God-given right; people should not have to “make it work” or “suffer” just because they want to spend time with their kids… but the harsh reality of today’s society is that the norm has become mom AND dad go to work AND baby gets taken care of by relatives or daycares.
I wrote this to get things off of my chest and to read it out loud. Sometimes saying it out loud makes things easier to process. Anyway… as a once working woman, I can say that I did feel empowered, especially in my scrubs, at the end of each shift I left with a smile and seeing a difference is people’s lives really made the 12 hour shifts so rewarding, I will never regret becoming a nurse, and I will always keep up on my licenses and requirements as I do plan to get back to work one day… but I have never been so content in my life than I am with my son. I can honestly say that I am a calmer/ better person… he is what I needed. I was going 100mph everyday  school, work.. doctor appointments.. pee pee pee… more school.. more work… trying to clean, oh shit, I need to eat today!! Honestly, I would wake up and did not know what I had to wear some days because I would loose track of what day it was and then BAM: baby was born… and not that the bills didn’t matter or school didn’t matter or work didn’t matter or the house didn’t matter… but BAM BAM BAM… suddenly I was able to take a minute and finally smell the fucking roses that were all around me that I never noticed before. Switches were flipped that I didn’t know where there… other switches that were always there were turned off and before I knew it, within a few short weeks, I noticed a complete shift in my priorities and even how I thought. I was a changed woman. And then I suddenly started acted different too. It was no longer, “Ugh I have to do laundry”, it was, “Wow, thank God I have this washing machine and dryer… Ill do laundry today while the baby naps.” It was no longer, “FUCK… I have to take the dog out!” It was, “Okay, lets get the carriage and leash and go on a walk and enjoy the day.” It wasn’t “OH MY GOD… I can’t write these papers anymore, I am so over it.” It was “I just have to get through this next page and then I can play with my baby and this class is almost done!!” I mean… I can keep going, but I think you all get the picture. I was much happier… calmer… I wasn’t so concerned with what time it was or what I “HAD” to do, but rather what I “GOT” to do.
I understand not all women feel the same, some women enjoy working and some women just do not like to “sit in the house”… But I can say, for me, a once full time nurse, I am loving this little piece of my life, or maybe I am loving this little piece of my son’s life? I would not trade any nursing session, poop up the back diaper, walk, book reading, or watching him crawl and annoy the dog all day for any ounce of work experience. That is just not where my head is. When he is more independent (no longer breastfeeding, walking, talking), I might feel more comfortable getting back into the working world… but for now, I am thoroughly enjoying all these roses bestowed around me that I never took a minute to smell before.
Its sad that not all women feel that they have this option, (the option to take care of their baby) because as mentioned before… it is SO hard to be a functioning one income household, but pregnancy is 9 or 10 months long depending on when you find out… there are ways to consolidate debt and come up with a plan. My husband is not educated and the job he works does not pay the best, plus we got stuck with all those medical bills. It was a tricky situation, but we did eventually figure it out… I also had always planned to go back to work until I actually had my baby in my arms… so we were not prepared at all. But if there’s a will, there is a way. Moral of the story; I am upset with how hard it was/is, how many tears I cried and how many different things we had to figure out just because I wanted extra time with my baby. Today’s world is just NOT right.