After six years, I finally returned to work. It wasn't easy but it was probably the best decision I've made since the kids were born. Here are a few reasons I decided to return to work.
1. I was burned out
Moe's autism affects everything we do every day. For his safety, he requires full and constant attention. It's intense and stressful and once we started homeschooling, I felt thoroughly trapped at home. Though I have some really wonderful memories of our first few years together, I needed a break.
2. I was boredWhen Moe was working with his therapists, and Jelly was in preschool, I didn't have a lot to do. It's one of the reasons I started blogging. I learned some sign language. And read a lot of autism blogs and books. But I missed the challenges of my career. I know many parents really love being at home with their kids, but I admit that maybe I'm not cut out for that much mommy-ing. Autism changed the type of stay at home parenting I could do, but that isn't the whole picture. I wanted a bit of my old life back.
3. I was scaredI still am. I'm scared of what will happen to Moe in the future. I'm scared of his ability to hurt others and himself. I'm scared of what Moe's level of need is doing to Jelly. When it comes to the battle between fight and flight, I admit that I'm more of a flyer. I needed an escape.
4. I wanted to set an exampleI'm not sure how Moe felt about my going to work, but Jelly didn't love it. She still complains sometimes. But it is important to me that Jelly knows that both moms and dads can work. I grew up in a traditional household, where my dad worked and my mom stayed at home. This was great for me and my brother. But I have a fancy education and I want to use it. I want Jelly to see that women can have important and fulfilling jobs just like men. And that Jeff and I share the parenting jobs that often fall to moms (especially stay at home moms), like driving on class field trips or taking them to the pediatrician.
5. The money isn't bad eitherI wanted to go back to work and was willing to do it as long as I could make it break even after paying for childcare. Fortunately, I'm able to bring in a bit more than that, which helps. And even though I make significantly less than my husband, I work for the company with amazing benefits. So I know I'm contributing to the household, which is important because raising a special needs child (who will also be a special needs adult) isn't cheap. Neither are those boots I just bought.
6. I like itThis may be the most important point. I like working. I like having interesting conversations with smart people. I like solving problems that don't involve my kids. Work is personally fulfilling and that is, in itself, enough of a reason to do it.
Working is hard. Sometimes I miss out on things. I like to think that working gives me the energy to make me a better parent, but I'm not sure that's true. I just know that I'm happier when I'm working than when I'm not.