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Changing Plans



New shoes 3

Motherhood has made me a completely different person. Pre-baby I would have NEVER “quit” a program. I never backed down in the face of challenges and always succeeded. I was tough, driven and, honestly, a little insane.

Enter Sabine and my priorities have changed drastically. If it weren’t for the fact I’ve sported the same haircut for more than a decade I might not recognize myself when I look in the mirror.

In January I started a program to become a personal trainer. I signed up for the two-part Master’s level program that had a first session running from January through mid June and a second session starting in July and running through September. The first session is part-time and, while challenging to leave my baby two nights and one day a week, is totally doable. The second session, which is the Master’s level course, runs Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and then has internship hours afterwards running late into the night some days.

Old Belle thought this would be just fine. Surely I’d be ok leaving my then one year-old child in the hands of a nanny for 40-50 hours a week. Lots of people start doing it at 3 months. It would be just fine!

New Belle is freaking out about it. I’m lucky that we can live a minimal life and survive, albeit modestly, in this expensive city. While working and making additional money would be very helpful, it is not absolutely necessary. This means that I don’t have to leave my baby full-time like this. It means that I can complete the first session, sit for my certification exams, and start training on a part-time basis in late summer/early fall. Not doing the Master’s session does not mean I can’t and won’t train and it does not mean I can’t complete the master’s hours it in the future when Sabine is older and weaned (she still will only drink milk from the breast).

I am struggling with feeling like I’m quitting, but I know I’m not. I am still moving forward with a new career, I am just putting my child as the priority. This is new stuff for a once very selfish and painfully career driven person. I’m having a hard time telling people that the plan is changing. I am worried that people will think less of me which is RIDICULOUS! I know my role as “mother” will always and forever take the front seat to career. It’s just that this new role still feels really foreign.

So that is where I stand today. I’ll be done with school in mid June and will spend the summer taking my certification exam and doing some continuing education credits to specialize in pre and post-natal. I’ll also spend my summer with my little girl, who is getting bigger and more fun by the day. I just don’t want to miss a moment of it!

How have you adjusted to the “mother” role? Any tips for when I do start working and leave her on a part-time basis with a care-taker? What can make this transition for me easier?



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  1. May 15, 2014

    I think about this kind of stuff all the time. Unfortunately, I have no idea what I want to do the rest of my life. I battle about the hours I am away from my daughter. I cringe about the idea of not doing “counseling” because I worked so hard to go to school for that (and my parents paid for it), so I sort of feel obligated to continue…. yet I don’t know if it’s what I want to do. I often feel incompetent, scared, and unsure of myself. How would it look if I just stopped at what I’ve worked so hard to be? At least with you, not continuing on with the program doesn’t derail your plans to train people. You’re still following your dream, and that is awesome! I mean, you’ve already done this hurdle before right, giving up your old job and trying something completely new. I think it’s quite admirable.

  2. May 15, 2014

    I don’t have any advice to offer on how to make the transition to leaving your daughter with a caregiver easier for you–our situations are totally different, as I went back to work full-time when my sons were only 10 weeks old–but I did want to say that I don’t think anyone should think less of you for your decision or think of it as “quitting.” I think you are smart to evaluate your priorities and decide to do what you believe best aligns with them.

    The time when our children are young is very brief and finite, and as you note, there will always be time later for you to go back and complete the rest of your program. So much of parenting is about “regret management.” It sounds to me like you are making a wise decision based on minimizing any regret you might feel in the future for missing out on time with your daughter.

  3. May 15, 2014

    I think this sounds like a great plan, Belle. I am so excited for you and your mommyhood adventure!

  4. APE #
    May 15, 2014

    I didn’t have a choice. I had to send my precious 8 week old baby to daycare because I need to work. I am the primary breadwinner, and literally if I didn’t work we wouldn’t have a place to live because we wouldn’t be able to afford rent. We barely make it by as it is. It was so hard to leave my baby. Believe me, I didn’t want to. But, he is four now and loves his daycare. He has learned so much and is going to be more than ready for school. He has friends and great social skills. After awhile, you just get used to it, I guess. You are very lucky to be able to stay home with your girl, and I think you should take full advantage of that while you can. But it isn’t the end of the world. I still got to see my boy’s first steps and hear his first words. And he knows I am his mommy, eventhough we only get a few hours in the evenings and weekends to be together. Whatever decision you make, it will be the right one for you!

  5. robin #
    May 15, 2014

    It doesn’t sound like quitting at all – with that description it sounds like a 2 part plan. And it makes a LOT of sense! In a few years Sabine will be in school full days! Right now she isn’t and it makes sense for you to be able to spend time with her during the day. I think you are making a very sensible choice (sorry if I didn’t say that before)

  6. May 15, 2014

    I think if you have the flexibility to do it a different way, then do it that way. Having that option is a really amazing thing and it’s totally acceptable to take advantage of that. A lot of women can’t make that choice, but if they could, they’d probably do the same thing.

    I don’t have the choice not to work. We are going into debt even with both of us working and our inlaws watching our son for free. San Francisco is insane right now, even more expensive than NYC (stupid tech renaissance), and we’re only just learning how to make ends meet. I would l to make a change in my job but right now we just can’t afford it. Hopefully some day.

    I think the biggest change for me as a mom has been the loss of those opportunities, the need to wait years and years to make changes in my life. That is probably the farthest reaching change. There are thousands of others too, of course. Being a mom had totally changed my life–every aspect of it really. It’s kind of crazy to think about. I don’t even know how to articulate it.

    As for tips on when you return to work, I don’t know. Maybe ask again when you’re doing it? Every situation is so different. Having in-home care is so different than group home care and that is different than a bigger day care/preschool. Leach situation requires different advice. So when you know what you’re doing, people can better share their experiences.

    I would say that it is really hard to leave your kid but it is possible. You can do it. If you don’t have to, that’s great. But when the time comes, you’ll find a way.

    I hope this new plan works out well.

  7. May 15, 2014

    I’ve been working 50+ hours a week since she was 12 weeks, but the catch is, she has been with my husband or my mom during that time which I feel has made the transition easier. I trust them implicitly, and I know she has received A+ care. In the fall, I will need to find someone else to take over two days for my husband, and I find my feet are really dragging on this. The thought of trusting a stranger to watch her is a much bigger hurdle than I thought, so I totally understand how you feel about it. I want to be able to trust someone to care for her in the way that family would, but I think that’s a huge ask. I think you’re doing the right thing by making a slower transition into that.

  8. Aubrey #
    May 16, 2014

    I, too, was a very career-driven, go-getter. I went to school for 8 years and did a residency to land my dream job as a clinical pharmacist. When I got pregnant with my oldest child, I had an opportunity to go half-time. I turned it down because I did not want to give up the autonomy I had. It was not a money issue then, strictly an ego one. I have regretted it almost everyday since then (8 years ago). Now I have 3 kids (an 8 year old and 18 month old twins), and part-time is not an option-both from a money perspective and from a work perspective. I question my priorities often and I wonder if I made all the wrong decisions with my life. I will tell you this-you will NEVER regret it. It is never going to be a comfortable feeling. We are told, as bright women, that we must be as good as any man, if not better. And we are. But, when it’s all said and done, once we have kids and the mommy gene kicks in, it all becomes convoluted. You think you should feel 100% one way or another, but in reality it’s not that simple. Even if you know what you want and know that it’s the best decision, that doesn’t mean 10-20% of you doesn’t feel ambivalent. You ARE making the right decision and you will have the best of both worlds. And you can always go back, if you even want to. You are not a quitter-you are a smart woman. This time is precious. And I’ll say it again-you will NEVER regret it! I wish i doyld go back and do the same. Good luck!

  9. jak #
    May 21, 2014

    ever read mom.mywars? its just like reading the above. everyone will try and justify their choices. and that’s fine. just do what you have to do, but we need to just not look down on or criticize anyone else’s choice about work and family balance and we need to not act like our choices are superior. if the answer was so obvious, or even if there was one, we wouldnt be having this conversation in the first place!

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