update: I don’t think I want to come back from maternity leave

Remember the letter-writer who wasn’t sure if she wanted to come back from maternity leave   (#3 at the link; first update here)? Here’s the update.

I am excited to say that after being a stay at home parent for 15 months, I started a new part time position about two months ago! Being home full time could be lonely and stressful, but I still feel really lucky that I got to just focus on my kids after a rough few years for our family. But after about 10 months, I started to feel aimless and antsy, and I knew it was time to rejoin the workforce.

At the last job I held before I left the workforce, I was managing a team of teapot builders. I realize now that I was getting really burned out managing people, and I was expending a lot of mental energy dealing with staff and client issues and crises with very little work that I was able to “own.” While I think I was pretty decent at managing (thanks, Allison!), it was very taxing for me, especially because of an office culture where the relationship between management and staff could be quite adversarial at times.

I have now transitioned my career to doing marketing for a different teapot organization. My new position is a great fit because I get to use all of the knowledge I gained through years in the teapot industry while doing something new and contributing in a different way. Plus, the work is a lot more independent so I am able to work part time without it affecting other employees. I never thought this was the direction my career would take but I am so happy it has worked out this way!

I am especially grateful for all of AAM’s advice for applying and interviewing for jobs. At the beginning of my job search I set aside some time to come up with an updated resume and cover letter outline that I could easily adjust based on the jobs I was applying for. In fact, when I had my second interview with the CEO of the organization that eventually hired me, she told me that mine was literally the best cover letter she’d ever read.

A few commenters seemed disappointed in my decision to leave the workforce to care for a child. However, there were a couple of things that I didn’t mention in my first update. First, this was not my first baby. I already had a preschooler at home, and shortly after I found out I was pregnant the older child was diagnosed with a medical condition that is not serious, but requires frequent doctor’s appointments. Second, shortly before our baby was born, my husband transitioned to a new field and got a job with an hour commute each way. Before starting his new job, he had worked in a place with a lot of flexibility that was about a 10-minute walk from our house. Third, we only have one car because my husband takes public transit to work. After seeing how our lives functioned with all those constraints and just one child, I started having anxiety attacks at the thought of holding everything together while also being a good employee, and it was just too much to consider after the baby was born.

I think I did the best that I could by my family and my career considering the circumstances. I landed in a good place and I am truly grateful for AAM’s advice and community.

{ 49 comments… read them below }

  1. PolicyChick

    Good for you, LW! Sounds like it all worked out perfectly. If you are willing, please consider sharing your cover letter – or your outline, or whatever you thought really worked. Cover letters are a pain and I think a lot of us struggle with them. I know I do! Cheers!

    1. Suzy Q

      Yes, please. I have several cover letters because of applying for different kinds of positions, but I am always looking to improve.

  2. Lulu

    I’m glad you found something that works for your family, OP! Do not be disheartened by the judgy disappointment of the commenters, you do not need to defend your choices as a parent.

    1. Enough

      We each must make the choice that us best for us at the time. Nobody else can really understand you and your life.

      1. RJ the Newbie

        +1000 to this. No one who isn’t you can fully understand your situation and that of your children. Glad to hear you found a way of incorporating work with being a mom of two.

    2. Cat Meow

      Agreed!
      Parenting sounds like the hardest job in the world (don’t have children and probably won’t). Good for you and it sounds like you really stuck to a timeline that worked best for you and it paid off very well!! Congrats on the new job and nice work w the cover letter!!

    3. beth

      Absolutely! If you made the decision that’s best for you, given your personal priorities and constraints, then you made the right decision. No need to justify it to us!

    4. Jules the 3rd

      +1!

      I am a female main breadwinner, and went back to work from sheer boredom 5 weeks after birth. That was what worked for my family. But my family is not your family, and *you and your partner* know best for your family. Go you!

    5. ScienceMommy

      So glad you said this Lulu, I came here to say the same thing! OP, don’t ever feel like you need to defend yourself as a parent. Also, I am not a SAHM, but I know it would be WAY harder than my professional job, that I am being paid well for. I don’t understand why people think that being a stay at home parent is some sort of lazy cop-out. Also, for many of the people whom I actually know feel like this, they are also the first people who would say, “OMG, I could NEVER be a teacher/daycare worker ect, that would be crazy, exhausting, ect. ect” Seems pretty hypocritical to me. :(

    6. CoveredInBees

      Seriously! I have a professional degree and professional license to go with it and right now, I’m a SAHM with one kid and another coming. It is what works for us right now. My job requires long hours and likely a long commute (which is pretty standard in the area) I’d have to hire someone to pick up our kid after daycare’s extended care and possibly put them to bed before I got home. I’m not willing to do that to satisfy a bunch of judgy strangers (or even judgy people I know). My parents had to work long hours with long commutes because that’s what we had to do, which was hard on everyone.

  3. Observer

    Overall, this is a really good update.

    You did what you needed to for your health and the health of your family, and that should not be a disappointment to anyone. (Not that anyone has any standing to express even “legitimate” disappointment to you.)

    I’m glad that you are back in the workforce in a job that works for you in the short term, and that has a future in the longer term. That’s really great. And I hope that your older child’s medical condition improves to the point that it’s just pretty much a memory.

  4. Katie the Fed

    I had to double check that I didn’t write this 10 months ago :)

    I went through a very similar thing, but I’m ultimately VERY glad I went back to work.

  5. Tisiphone

    Thanks for the update! I’m happy to see everything worked out. This is the best outcome, doubly so because you’re happy.

  6. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk ox

    I’m so glad things have worked out! One thing that I do want to say is that you don’t need to justify making the choice to stay home. Even if every situation had been ideal (healthy preschooler, close job, etc.), if you and your husband decided that you could realistically be a SAHM, then it’s okay! Goodness, I hate the weird, judgy attitude about that decision. People wanted the RIGHT to work away from home back in the day, not for that right to become compulsory. As long as that decision isn’t, like, making it where your family doesn’t have food on the table or something, there’s nothing wrong with it. If it’s right for your family, it’s right for your family — no extinuating circumstances required. People need to save their disappointment for something that’s their own business.

    1. Double A

      I agree that one doesn’t *have* to explain or justify the choice, but considering we don’t have good social supports for working parents and everyone has to basically reinvent the wheel for their own family, I appreciate hearing people’s stories. Also, the more we talk about the struggles working parents face, the more we understand commonalities which, ideally, will lead to social solutions in the long run, but even in the short term can help other families in similar situations to at least realize they’re not alone.

      So thank you OP for sharing your story and your journey! I’m on maternity leave with my 2 month old at the moment, so I’m especially appreciative of these stories.

      1. Observer

        Sharing stories is good. Judging people for their choices is not. That’s what people are addressing.

      2. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk ox

        Yeah, I wasn’t criticizing OP for explaining; but she indicated that the reason she felt the need to explain was because of commenters being “disappointed”.

    2. HBucket

      Exactly! When I decided to stay at home after #2 was born, my mother was very disappointed. But she was in a generation where it was much less acceptable for mothers to work. She was expected to leave the workforce, even though she was an educated professional! When she expressed her disappointment to me, I told her that now it’s a choice, not a mandate.

  7. Akcipitrokulo

    Glad thing are working out for you! And please don’t listen to anyone you think is judging you for staying at home, or feel you have to justify that decision… “because I chose to” is all you need!

  8. MeganK

    What a great update; I am smiling at my computer. So glad to hear everything worked out well for you, OP!

  9. cheluzal

    Weird that people judged you for staying home. I had my first child 7 months ago and extended my maternity leave into a personal leave (I pay benefits on at too much a month). I am scheduled to return when he’s 15 months. We live like paupers and pinching can’t describe my approach, but I will never get this time back! Yes, it’s lonely and I get the antsy feeling, but I wouldn’t change it—and poo on anyone who thinks differently, lol.

  10. Sara

    I’m glad it worked out, but don’t feel like you need to explain why you made those choices. You did what was right for your family, don’t let other people’s opinions get in the way. Even if the reason was ‘I want to’, that’s all the reason you need.

    Good luck with the job!

  11. WellRed

    Oh FFS. Commenters of AAM. You do not get to question anyone’s choice to work or not work, for whatever reason. LW: so happy you found what works for you and your family.

  12. LadyPhoenix

    As long as the children are being taken care of and loved, You should donwhat you think is right.

    I may not have kids, but I understand that you have to do things what work best. Inthink this works best, and bah bumbug to the nahsayers.

    1. TheRedCoat

      This ^^^ It is best for my kiddo to be in daycare, where professionals who have had more or less a full night’s sleep can give him the energy and feedback that he loves, while I do a job that helps pay the bills and gives him medical coverage. I salute women who do the SaHM thing- they have skill sets that aren’t mine.

  13. christine c

    So glad you were able to do what felt right for you and your family, and transition back to good work when that felt right for you again.
    I also just want to express how unfair it is that women in the U.S. (assuming that’s where you are) are forced to choose between returning to work almost immediately after giving birth or identifying as a stay-at-home mom. That’s such a tough, unfair dichotomy. Here in Canada 12 months leave is the norm for women in full time professional jobs (with some government financial support through our employment insurance scheme). So a Canadian woman doesn’t have to decide whether she’s going back until 12 months are up — her job is protected by law during that leave period. For us, taking a year to recover physically and to care for and get to know your baby doesn’t mean dropping out of the work force, being seen as someone who de-prioritizes their career, and having to fight your way back in to a new job. It’s the norm, and we’re lucky.

    1. Obelia

      Absolutely agree – it’s 12 months here in the UK too, though pay varies over that period depending on your contract. (I went back after 7 months for financial reasons, but my job would have been safe for 12.) Hopefully the recent introduction of shared parental leave will change the landscape over time too so that it isn’t just women who are expected to make these choices.

  14. Clay on my apron

    OP I’m so glad it worked out for you. I came here to comment on the judgemental remarks that people made about your decision to leave work and take care of your child. WTF. It’s a perfectly valid choice and has stuff all to do with anyone except you and your family.

    I’m glad to see that so many other people have given you the same feedback.

    AAM has wonderful, kind and thoughtful commenters but also too many who consider themselves open minded, but in reality are only open minded towards those who share their views and extremely critical of those who voice a dissenting opinion.

    I love my work and I’m happy to be a working mom, but I would have loved to have the opportunity to spend more time with my kids when they were babies. You had that opportunity and you took it. Good for you.

  15. Callie

    Congratulations! Part time jobs with independence, like the one you’ve got, have been ideal for me as a part-SAHM. They’re not always easy to find! You’ve done great for yourself and your family.

  16. Tallulah in the Sky

    People suck… You don’t have to defend the fact that you chose to stay at home or not. The fact that people here judged you for it… It makes me part mad, part disappointed.

    So glad everything worked out for you and congratulations on your new job !

    1. HBucket

      LOL I was so annoyed by it I posted before checking to see if anyone else had the same take. I totally agree with you, Tallulah!!

  17. HBucket

    OP: You should never feel obligated to explain or justify your decision to not work outside the home! Anyone who made you feel that way needs to consider how they would feel if someone made them justify working outside the home. We all have our lives, and we all are just trying to do what’s best for us (and those around us).
    Yikes, stripes! Have we not yet moved on past this?!
    p.s. I worked outside the home (with a SAHM stint for about two years) so I am supportive of whatever a woman’s decision is in this regard.

  18. Falling Diphthong

    I already had a preschooler at home, and shortly after I found out I was pregnant the older child was diagnosed with a medical condition that is not serious, but requires frequent doctor’s appointments.

    Sometimes, you need to just turn off one of the burners. Wisdom from David Sedaris that resonated with me.

  19. Katie

    You don’t have to justify your choices to anyone, especially not randos on the Internet. I’m glad it all worked out!

  20. Another Mom

    Don’t apologize for staying home with your baby! Remember that in most of the western world, parents get actual leave. It is NORMAL to spend time home with your baby. Don’t ever let someone make you feel bad. And even if you NEVER went back to the workforce, it would still be an absolutely valid choice and you shouldn’t be shamed for that.

  21. Karen

    Please don’t apologize for leaving the workforce to become a stay at home mom. That is what we are fighting for- the choice to do either for both sexes.

  22. Amelia Pond

    I’m glad everything worked out for you! It makes me really unhappy that anyone at all was disappointed(!) that you left the workforce to take care of your children. Frankly, it’s none of their business and they certainly don’t deserve any more details on why you did. It’s sad that women still feel pressured to explain themselves, in this day and age.

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