Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Accidental Housewife: The How and Why

I mentioned in my last post how I went back to work after my first kid and LOVED it.

Well, okay, I didn't love it, love it, but...it was so great for so many reasons. All in all, it was a positive experience.

So why am I not doing it again after kid #2?

I've been putting off writing this post mostly because I can't really answer this question very well. After mulling it around for some time, the best I can come up with is--it's an imperfect solution to an imperfect situation.

IDEALLY, I would be able to still work part-time.

Ideally, my part-time job would be interesting, stimulating, skill-building and never require me to work more than 20 hours a week (unless giving me waaaaaaay advance notice and even then, wouldn't require that many more hours). 

Ideally, my commute would be 15 minutes or less.

Ideally, I could find really cheap top-notch child care so I never worry whether my kid is languishing away somewhere being totally ignored while propped in front of a tv screen.

And since I'm shooting for the moon here, I might as well throw in other crazy wishes like peace in the Middle East, a cure for all cancers, and a pony. Seriously, I would love a pony.

In REALITY, the best I could do is to go back to work part-time at my firm knowing that the work hours are ridiculously unpredictable and completely client-driven. Whether I work 0 hours or 20 hours on any given weekend was always up in the air.

I suppose I was willing to put up with the unpredictability for a little bit with one kid. But now that I have 2 little people to juggle, somehow it just seems a bit much. Obviously if I really really really wanted to make it work, there are ways. But add to that the unending stress, the gnawing mom-guilt, and the complete lack of down-time (you're either being beat down by kids or by work), and it tipped the scale over to no-thank-you-I'll-pass land.

I decided that--You know what? I'd like to cook healthier meals for my family (a la Michael Pollan). I want to socialize more (or heck, socialize, period). I want to exercise more than twice a year. And yes, I even want a little time to myself to watch some Netflix with a bowl of ice-cream every now and then.

And that is Why.

The How is much more simple.

A lot of people wonder how we can actually survive on just the spouse's income. Well, it boils down to two factors really.

First, we are hecka cheap. We own one tiny used car, never travel anywhere, never go to movies/concerts/games/anything really, and never eat out at nice places. Wow, did I just describe the funnest people on the planet or WHAT?!

But seriously we don't really mind it. All I need to be happy is a good hiking trail and all the spouse really wants is a good book (thank you Barnes and Noble for many a happy, "free" evenings of entertainment).

Second, I've been squirreling away my Biglaw salary for five years while living like the above. And if you're at all familiar with Biglaw salaries, you know that's a lot of nuts stored up for a financial winter, so to speak. Eventually those stores will be depleted, at which point I do see myself going back to work, but for now, we're okay.

Also, I figure I'm actually "earning" a lot of dough staying home with the kids. Heck, I'm taking on the job of a full-time private nanny. The going rate for nannies in our area is about $20/hr for 2 kids, so we're talkin' bout a $40k a year imputed income I'm making! Woohoo.

All that being said, I still have a ton of misgivings about the whole SAHM thing. But that's for another post to explore. In the meantime, I'm enjoying Noah's new found ability to sit up on his own!

And to chow down on solids like a beast.

Forget the spoon mom, just dump it all in!  Noah seriously has no patience for small quantities of food.

Finally El Gordito is satisfied after 3 bowls of rice cereal and 1 cube of avocado.

And as always, pinching those nekkid chubby rolls.

Mommy just can't stand my stinkin' cuteness!


CP said...

Good for you for making the decision! I hope it brings you so much happiness :)

Arie said...

Those pictures are so cute! Noah is the cutest baby! I can't wait to kiss his chubby cheeks!

Butterflyfish said...

This seems like the best move for you guys right now. Awesome for you. Like being a working out of the home mommy, there are going to be days that suck and days that are great. But I wish you only great days as a SAHM. :-)

CM said...

OMG, going back and reading that previous post... I feel like out of all the bloggers I read, you are my work soul sister. (Except your job was more intense, especially since I stopped doing as much deal work.) So I 100% understand the "why."

It's sad, though, isn't it, that your ideal situation would have you continue working? I feel like this is the struggle of our generation. It seems like our choices are to devote our entire lives to our families or to our work, and if we want something in between we have to painstakingly carve it out or invent it. All of which is a lot of work.

Pretty awesome that you've been saving up so much of your biglaw salary. I have to admit that I haven't, really -- we have built up a decent chunk of savings, but I've also paid off my student loans, replaced both ancient cars, upgraded our house to one with separate bedrooms for the kids, and subsidized a 6-month stint when my husband quit his job and explored a new career. I have no regrets about how we've spent our money, but it would be awfully nice for that to be less of a factor.

I hope it's everything you want, and that you do get to that ideal situation eventually! A tip that an older HLS alum gave me was to maintain those biglaw connections -- she said they are by far the best sources for pointers to new jobs.

Alice in Wonderland said...

CM--YES! You totally get my situation. Corp Law seems like such an all or nothing proposition. Thanks for the much-needed alum tip. Half my thoughts now are filled with how I can get back in the game in a few years when I'm ready to start working again. On-ramping--the next big adventure.

CP and Butterflyfish--Thanks for the kind words!

Arie--Get ready to kiss some chub! Excited for your visit!

PWan said...

it's possible to live off of one salary! my family did it and I greatly appreciate my mom being there for my brother and I and look we turned out a-ok :)