>I’ve been mulling around with the idea of going back to work outside the home. I say it that way because staying home to raise children is work, though American society would, at times, portray staying at home to be easy.

It isn’t. In fact, when I made the transition from full-time employee and part-time student to full-time mother and part-time student when my oldest daughter was born, I had a really difficult time. I was so used to being creative and interacting with other adults and my world went from going full-speed ahead to being dictated by the nursing schedule of an infant.

I do love being home with my children. But I also think that they miss out on socialization by not being in play groups or in some sort of care on a semi-regular basis.

Financially, things have been tight. I look back on the past 9 months and am amazed that we have made it. The short answer is: God has provided. It’s been really close at times, and even though we finally sold our old house and we finally settled a lawsuit within the past 4 months, the fact is, that by being a one income family with more financial obligations than money means that we are playing catch up after many long months of juggling. It’s exhausting and I’ve been praying specifically about finances.

So…. I am again in the middle of the Great Debate of the 21st Century. Ok, maybe it’s not that big of a deal, but there has been a lot of discussion that began in the 90’s and continues through today. It was even a topic of discussion on “Sex and the City” when Miranda, a successful lawyer aiming for partner, becomes pregnant. The question of whether or not women can have it all came up.

Personally, I don’t think women can have it ALL. Something has to give at some point. Actually, at many points through the day. If a woman is a successful physician or attorney, her time at home is limited. If a woman chooses to focus her time on her family, her career can (and I believe a lot of times, will) suffer. Even for those of us who chose career paths far from what we originally planned, opting to take administrative jobs rather than go to law school, for example, we cannot have it all.

The sitter or day care will eventually call and tell you that little Suzy has a fever, can you please come now? And despite the fact that you have an insane day ahead of you, full of meetings or work obligations, you must go. Now.

It’s a very difficult tight rope to walk. One slip either way and you feel awful. For me, I was always guilty. I always felt bad about my kid being in day care, but I had to contribute financially. She did well. She needed to be around other kids and other adults. She benefited from the education programs at her day care. But at the end of the day, I think what she and I both wanted was for us to be home together.

I think that once children are in school, being a working-outside-the-home mother can be easier. You don’t feel guilty about being away from them because they’re supposed to be in school. And, a bonus with a lot of after-school programs is that they can get their homework finished before even going home.

It’s a tough decision that every woman has to make. A lot of us feel that we are better mothers when we work outside the home. A lot of us feel that we should absolutely be home to raise our children to school age. Then some of us (me) are somewhere in the middle, not knowing what the exact right answer is, and we hope that we’re getting it right, somehow.