Tough Choices

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April 15, 2016

I’m going a little off-theme for this posting, although it’s still a subject dear to my heart, which is family. I’ve always been pretty independent and have prided myself on that. So when I found out I was pregnant, I just assumed that I would continue working after the baby’s birth. I did go back after the standard 12 week leave, but my heart had changed. Having a baby changes so many things, even more than I was expecting. My husband quit work to stay at home with him (as I was making more at my job), but I was pining over his role and missing those moments with my new, little human. He would send me cute pictures while I was at work and it would just make my heart ache. So, when we decided to move to a new city, we also decided that we would switch roles. I would stay home with the little guy full-time, while he went to work.

I have loved this arrangement. Sure, there are times (many, many times) when being alone with a toddler all day tests your patience. But overall, I’ve never been happier or felt the same sense of peace. However, my background is in engineering and I’ve been fortunate to be at the forefront of a lot of technology and have been able to work with some brilliant people. My brain has been challenged for as long as I remember and I love learning. Staying at home, I felt like that part of my brain atrophied (although my patience has gotten stronger!).

Several months ago, just out of curiosity, I searched through the job openings at a local university. One listing fit my background perfectly and piqued my interest. I applied and promptly forgot about it. Four months later I received a surprise phone call and after a whirlwind interview process, I have been offered the job. I feel like regardless of the option I choose, I lose. Either I lose precious time with my son, or I lose a potentially amazing opportunity and chance to impact an interesting project. It really shook my world for several days. I lost sleep, couldn’t concentrate on anything. Just felt generally miserable.

After some consideration, and talking with my husband, I have decided to accept the position. With the caveat that if it doesn’t make me happy, I will leave and we will go back to our current roles. I know that he understands and I am lucky to be blessed with a partner that supports whatever decision I may make. Even after making the decision though, I was wrought with doubt and the feeling of loss would just not go away. Since then, I’ve tried to focus on the positive aspects and I can say that it has helped tremendously. I will get to join what seems like a great team of scientists doing research that helps us understand our universe and its history. My son will get to build other relationships that will also be meaningful to him. I know that since our time together will be more limited, I will be more present and mindful with him. Not caught up so much in the cooking and cleaning. When he’s older, I hope he will also value the work I have chosen to do and see me as an example of an intelligent, capable and loving woman. I’ll still miss him though.

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