I don’t think I was ever going to be a stay-at-home mother for that long after Mr. K was born. I know some women do, and that’s fine. Some do it for a long time, or even indefinitely, and that’s also completely fine.
It wasn’t for me, though. There was a brief period in my mid-20s where I wondered if this was something I should aspire to and even daydreamed a bit about it, but I recognise now that this had everything to do with how much I hated my job at the time and little to do with how well suited I might or might not be to it.
Much as I love Mr. K, I wanted to return to work. My job is reasonably enjoyable, as jobs go, and I liked the balance that it brought to my life. Having a variety of things to do in a variety of places for a variety of purposes works well for me so far.
While I’m at work, Mr. K is at childcare. I do not think this is a bad thing. It gives him a chance to interact with other people outside of the family, to socialise and play in a different environment. It’s also a good chance to build up his Japanese skills, since English is what he hears most of the time when he’s here. As I outlined here, I work part-time, and this keeps a good balance between time at home and time out and about, and my husband typically has at least one day off per week as well so they can spend time together then.
Despite all of the above, though, the main reason that I returned to work is financial. We need money. I sometimes find myself wondering if I should be working full-time, imagining how much better off we would be, but I do think we’re doing the best we can for Mr. K just now and that’s what’s important.
If I had some trust fund coming in from elsewhere, I might not be working, it’s true. Still, I imagine I would probably have some other side project happening. Maybe alternative-universe-rich-me might be working on a masters degree for the hell of it, or pretending to write a novel (N.B. I do this anyhow) or an important work, or mastering Japanese to some level that is currently relegated to pipe-dream status. Maybe Mr. K would be getting the social experiences I’ve described through a private nanny, niche playgroups, and extracurricular activities instead. I don’t know.
As nice as that reality sounds, this world is the one I live in, and this is the one R and I have to work within the limitations we have, balancing the needs we have to meet with what we want and what we can manage. It’s not easy. Alternatives sometimes look better. For now, though, I work, and it’s actually not that bad.