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What If I Don't Want to Go Back to Work?

Photograph by Twenty20

Every once in a while, my husband talks about our plans for when both of our kids are in school full time and I go back to an office for work. Right now, I work from home as a freelance writer and project manager. My hours are my own, and I'm able to be home with my sons. When these conversations come up I just look at him like he is insane.

Years ago, when my oldest was almost 2, I left corporate life to be a stay-at-home mom, which quickly turned into a work-from-home mom life as I picked up freelance projects here and there. We needed to save money on daycare (my paycheck covered the monthly fee but little else), and I didn't want to miss out on my son's life. We knew we wanted another kid, and there was no way my paycheck could cover two kids in daycare.

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Now I have one kid in kindergarten and the other is in preschool. In one year, I'll have two in school full time. Yes, my boys will be out of the house. That said, I can't even fathom how I, or any other stay-at-home parent, could go back to work with the school schedules my kids have.

There are sick days, snow days, half days, days off for no reason, themed days that I have to prep for and more. If I went back to a 9-to-5 job, how would any of this get done? Would my husband and I split sick day duties? We would certainly have to pay for before- and after-school care, which means my paycheck would, once again, go toward childcare, and I would have to make more than enough to cover the expenses for two. What would we do with them in the summer? More childcare, more expense for a nanny, camps, etc. I've seen how this works, and it isn't really our style.

My husband and I split all of the parenting and household work in the house, but being home certainly helps take the burden off of my husband, who often works long hours. If my husband and I didn't co-parent and co-clean the way we do, I'm not sure how our lives would even work if I went back to an office full time. Would we have to hire a housecleaner to come in and take care of the disaster that is our house? What about vacation time? I relish my ability to pack the kids up to see their grandparents or head to the beach for a few days in the summer.

The most important question of all, though, is whether I would actually want to go back to an office. I like being my own boss. It gets a little lonely those times that I work late at night on projects with no water cooler to chat around. But I also have no boss looking over my shoulder and telling me what to do. My vacation time is endless, if I want it to be. I've worked hard over the past six years to build this career, and I only see bigger things happening once I have a full day, five times a week, to devote to the work.

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If I went back to work, I'd miss out on my kids' lives. I'm a career woman, and I have a habit of turning into a workaholic. I'd envelope myself in work but feel horrible that I was missing soccer games and science fairs. I would also be torn that I wasn't giving my job 100 percent of my time and life.

I may go back to the office one day, if the right job comes along, but I'm in no hurry. Right now, I need to be home for my kids. Yes, they have watched "Star Wars" more times than I care to admit, especially when I'm on deadline and need a little quiet. But they know I am there. We can play with friends after school and have snowball fights when the next blizzard comes.

I like my flexibility, and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

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