I've been thinking a lot about maternity leave lately - big shocker, right? (Among other things like getting my taxes taken care of, bringing home personal items from work, getting out the co-sleeper - I mean, I'm like a ticking time bomb at this point, people!) I'm planning to take off of work until August of 2014, when the baby will be about 16 months old. Unpaid. But I'm not complaining (okay well maybe just a little) - because I know that I'm one of the lucky mothers to even have that option. Most new moms that I know (here in the U.S.) are lucky to be able to take six weeks off with their newborns and retain their jobs.
I've also been thinking about money. I'm trying to work up basically until the moment I give birth in order to get a paycheck for as long as possible. Like me, Kevin is a teacher too, which means that we aren't exactly rolling in the green stuff, so every day that I can continue to work is important. But every morning when I wake up, I have an internal battle to force myself to go to work. Honestly at this point of my pregnancy, hormones and discomfort have completely taken over. And every day I feel like a complete failure when I head home after a long day. I just don't currently have the patience, focus, or stamina that is absolutely required in my profession, and I really feel like I just shouldn't be there at this point. But I push on - another day another dollar, right?
And while 99% of the time I feel very very fortunate to be a citizen of the United States of America, lately I've been kind of dreaming about living in, oh say Sweden where they're given 480 paid days per child? Or in Denmark where women get paid time off for four weeks before giving birth. Or most any other country in the industrialized world:
Even though we have scrimped and saved enough for me to take a long unpaid leave, I feel guilty about spending that savings. Because heck, we could be using that money as a down payment on a bigger home, to pay off our student loans or free ourselves of our car payment, or on an amazing vacation (or two or three), or even just as an emergency fund. Kev would love to move out of our tiny casa (and some days so would I!) but he knows that being home with our children as much as possible is really important to me. And so we continue to make our little home work for us.
Making these big decisions is tough, and we try to take them as they come and make the best choice that we can at the time. Sometimes I wish I had a crystal ball that would let me know if we were doing it 'right' - if everything was going to work out in the end. Because as much as I want to live in the present (childhood is so fleeting - I don't want to miss a minute of it!), I also don't want to be working until I'm eighty or become a financial burden to my children. I want to enjoy my golden years as much as my younger ones. Travel. Be comfortable.
Finding that balance is tough.
For now I guess I'll just try to take things one day at a time, keep putting one foot in front of the other until this baby is born, and hope for the best. (And pray that my fairy godmother comes, cleans my house, gives my kid a bath (I mean seriously, leaning over the tub at almost 37 weeks pregnant is no joke), and tells me to put my feet up and just relax already! Hey, a girl can dream, right?) xo, Lauren