Put a Bib on It

I Didn’t Choose Work


I’ve read a lot of great blogs out there about working moms—including some right here—and as I am reflecting on one last week of being (mostly) at home with my girls, I’m thinking a lot about the empowering, positive messages shared by mothers who work outside of the home. How they’re better mothers because they work. How they’re setting an example for their young sons and daughters about all of the things a mother can do. How they’re using their whole brains, and not just the part that repeats something about washing your hands after you potty. How grateful they are to have the privilege to choose to work, as many mothers in previous generations did not.

But for me, this is what it really comes down to: if you can afford to choose, you choose.

If you can’t afford to choose, you don’t have a choice.

It’s about money. Paying the bills, buying the things, saving for retirement.

And how am I supposed to feel about myself, about my parenting, if that’s what it’s really about?

Admitting that I don’t want to go back to work feels like a most unpopular opinion. I should want to use my degrees. I should want to contribute in a more significant way financially to my family. I should want to have the money to buy Jamberry without feeling guilty. Flippant comments aside, I should want, as a feminist, to do more than mother. Wanting to stay at home feels indulgent, even though I know it’s incredibly hard work. Wanting to stay at home feels like I’m saying wanting something else isn’t okay, which is not at all how I feel. A friend of mine often sincerely quotes Amy Poehler when she says of others’ choices, “Good for her, not for me.”

And that’s the truth.

I’ll be working for a non-profit, doing good. I’ll be writing and editing and many of the things that I love to do. I’ll have a flexible schedule that allows me more time with my children than many working parents get during the week. These were choices I made about the kind of job I was willing to take, but the real choice, the big choice, about returning to the workforce in a more significant way—that one was made for me.

Author: Jillian Kuhlmann

Mama. Nerd. Writer.

9 thoughts on “I Didn’t Choose Work

  1. Truth! Those darn bills making our decisions for us. The choice to stay home can even be decided based on finances(the money spent on childcare vs your income). It was a big factor in my decision. Good luck on your new job! It sounds like a great one!

  2. I think your point is a great one and a perspective that often doesn’t get heard because the people who have work chosen for them don’t necessarily have the time and flexibility (heck the luxury) to do thing like write a blog. I definitely choose to work. My husband has a great career and we have a pretty simple life. I work because, like you, I work for a nonprofit and have a flexible job that lets me go on field trips and take afternoons off in the summer with my daughter. I also get to make the world a better place with my work. It makes a big difference when you have to leave your kiddo at day care or camp.

    Best of luck to you with your job. I hope it works for you and your family. My work mom friends are some of the best I have. I hope you find yourself a similar support system.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and for your kindness! I definitely feel like working for a non-profit makes a huge difference, in terms of feeling good about what I do when I am not with them.

  3. Also I love the picture. Is that you?

  4. We’ve already figured out that I won’t be able to stop working. I admit that I’d like to take at least a couple years off. That said, I give us all insurance and other benefits. If I were to stop working we would have to go onto a health plan with $5000 deductibles per person AND it would cost us at least twice as much as we pay now. Even paying for daycare, I will still have half of my checks each month left over to go towards keeping a roof over my child’s head, keeping it warm this winter, and other such important things. It was a choice that was very much taken out of my hands. :-/ I’m not looking forward to only having six weeks with my baby when it’s born.

  5. Pingback: Better Together | Put a Bib on It

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