On Monday I have my first real day back at work. We have district days the first three days, and then the first day of school is on September 1. I have very mixed feelings about going back to work. Last year was my favorite year of teaching. (This might have been because I got to quit in April before the end of the year craziness, or possibly because most of my students were wary of getting on their pregnant teacher’s nerves, but regardless, I really enjoyed teaching last year.) I’m excited to see my coworkers and to work with students again. Also, our deparment just got new textbooks, and I’m really excited to FINALLY have some really good materials to teach with. If this was just a normal year, I’d really be looking forward to school starting again.
However, this year is anything but normal… or rather, it’s the new normal, since I have two new members of my family. The babies start daycare on Monday. It’s a small, in-home daycare, and it’s in our neighborhood. The babies have been there with us twice so far. They love seeing the other kids, so I think that aspect will be really good for them.
Very honestly, though, if we could afford for me to stay home with them for a year, I would. Unfortunately, we can’t afford for me not to work without going into debt. And we don’t live extravagently. Our cars are from ’98 and ’99. We don’t take vacations (other than to Montana where we stay with my parents.) I feel like we’ve minimized our expenses as much as we can. But even so, we need more than just Will’s income to meet our monthly expenses, so we knew before I ever got pregnant that once we had kids, I would need to work.
I thought a lot about whether I should keep my current job or try to find something in the evening or weekends so that we could avoid daycare. Unfortunately, with the type of job I’d probably be able to get (retail, cleaning, restaurant) I would have to work full-time to make the same amount of money that I can earn teaching part-time (if you factor in the cost of medical benefits.) So even though we’re adding in the extra expense of childcare (and it’s a lot) overall it makes more sense to keep the job that I have instead of finding a new one. I will also be a lot more enthusiastic about going to teach than I would be about going to work at Target, so that is a benefit as well.
While I’m very grateful for the women’s movement and the fact that most career fields are open to both genders, I’m finding that I’m resentful of how our society has shifted so that for most middle class families, both parents have to work. I want to be the one who raises my kids, not a daycare worker. But unless I figure out another way to earn money, or a job that I can work in the evening hours, working part-time with part-time daycare is the best situation we can figure out.