Just My Type: From Working Mom to SAHM
Working it Out
I got my first full-time job as a junior in college, working the graveyard shift in the composing room of the Troy Record. I was hoping it would lead to a job in the newsroom, as I was studying journalism at Russell Sage College; it eventually did, and I started my career as a newspaper copy editor a couple months before I graduated. From there, I went on to work at several daily and weekly newspapers in the Northeast over the years, including the entire time I was pregnant with my daughter, Noelle, and seven weeks after she was born.
But this is not an autobiography. This is looking forward.
For the first time since that first job in Troy, N.Y., I am not working full-time anymore… If you have read this column over the past 18 months, you know how stressful the last few months have been dealing with Noelle’s latest health issue, an adrenal insufficiency diagnosis, on top of the type one diabetes we had been living with for three years. In addition, my job got more stressful, and I found myself drowning in anxiety. The life preserver came in the form of my husband, who has worked as a freelance journalist since Noelle was born, being her primary caregiver while I was the primary breadwinner. My husband, Stephen, was offered a promotion to full time hours and a salary equivalent to what I was making, and his first words to me were, “If I take this, you can quit your job.”
Wow. Not work? What a strange idea. Working is part of who I am. I had worked 15 years in newspapers before leaving a year and a half ago to follow a passion and join the team of the Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts. I had always rolled my eyes at the ongoing debate-slash-fight over the choices women make regarding their jobs and their families. My work was a big part of who I was, and I think I did a pretty good job balancing that with being a mom, even after the initial diabetes diagnosis in 2010.
But the more I thought about it, the more I thought that this was a gift. Imagine being able to focus more on Noelle, her life and health, without the added stress of my job. Of course there were financial ramifications, but we have made do on one full-time salary for years, living modest and quiet lives. Yes, I would have to find some part-time work of some sort, as my husband did when I brought home the full-time bacon. But a blessing came there, too, as the online newspaper my husband works for offered me some part-time hours.
I thought it over and over-thought it, as I tend to do, but in the end, two weeks ago, I resigned my position with the Girl Scouts. It has been a weird two weeks, listening to all of the wonderful Girl Scout volunteers I have met and supported over the last year and a half sing my praises and bemoan my departure. It has been weird when people ask what I’m going to do now, and I say I am going to be a full-time mom. That phrase does easily not roll off my tongue just yet, as I have always left one job for another.
But maybe this is the most important job of my life. Maybe taking a breath right now, focusing on my daughter’s health and happiness – and my own – is more important than career satisfaction or full-time salaries.
Because the bottom line is that this is not about choosing kids over a job or entering the debate that unnecessarily pits women against each other for the personal choices they make. I would work 100 hours a week doing manual labor if it meant that I had a healthy child at home who did not need me as much as Noelle needs me right now. I never imagined I would have to make this decision, or that I would be able to make this decision.
Now I am looking forward. I don’t know what the future will bring, but Noelle and I are in it together. Full time.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pittsfield native Rebecca Dravis is a former journalist who lives in north Berkshire County with her husband and daughter in Williamstown, MA. In Just My Type Rebecca shares her experiences as a parent raising a child with type one diabetes. – Check out Just My Type on the third Monday of every month.
What is Type 1 Diabetes: Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone that enables people to get energy from food. It occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, called beta cells. While its causes are not yet entirely understood, scientists believe that both genetic factors and environmental triggers are involved. Its onset has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle. There is nothing you can do to prevent T1D, and-at present-nothing you can do to get rid of it. [Source: JDRF]