Thanks to the Rosen/Romney showdown of 2012, working moms are all over the news right now. What better time to stop and reflect over your own working outside of the home, in the home, not working at all but letting the nannies and chefs take care of everything in the home, situations? Over at CNN the hottest article today features a mom who declares, "I can't afford to work," and sadly, this is oftentimes true in the world of insanely expensive child care and low paying jobs. (Although the woman in this article said she decided clearing $18,000 a year wasn't enough to have someone else take care of her kids, for some of us that would be PLENTY. That's after child care and commuting costs, you guys.)
After my first child was born, I also found myself in the position of working only to pay the babysitter, and sometimes (most of the time), going in the hole. But I worked, even though I totally couldn't afford to do it.
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As someone who lived in New York City (the most expensive place to raise kids, or even puppies), I left a corporate job to pursue my acting and writing dreams and found myself pregnant a few weeks later. Not the best time to give up paid maternity leave, yet there I was. By the time my daughter was born I was writing part-time, and trying to increase my freelance portfolio dramatically. Needless to say you don't make a ton of money freelance writing when you can only afford a babysitter for six hours, once a week. But at some point, I just made the jump and increased my child care in hopes of increasing my profile. We were incredibly broke for quite some time, but it worked. By the time my second child arrived, I had an actual job at an actual publication and was well on my way.
For me, having a baby put my career goals in sharp focus. When you don't have a lot of time to waste, it's amazing what you can accomplish. But the debt that followed us has continued to put strain on our family, and we're still engaged in a constant balancing act over child care costs versus my work schedule. But this was our decision, like staying home instead of paying for child care was Sunah Hwang's decision. We're all trying to do what's best for us and for our families, under conditions that are less than ideal.
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All moms work. Some of us get a paycheck, and some of us get the satisfaction of not missing one second of our baby's life. But until women are making more than 77 cents on the dollar, health care is a given, rather than a crippling expense, and child care and maternity leave are supplemented by the government, only the very rich really have good choices to make. The rest of us just trudge along, and try not to think about what our decision to have a baby just did to our bottom line.
What choice did you make?
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