Which is more important? A job or family?
For most people, I would assume it’s an easy question to answer: family, of course. “Family comes first,” everyone’s said it. But when you find yourself facing the possibility of having to give up a career that you love for the sake of family, it can be an awfully bitter pill to swallow.
Working at the newspaper, being a writer isn’t just “my job.” It’s become part of my identity.
In this business you don’t really have set hours, because anything can happen at anytime. Things in the community don’t just stop happening outside the weekday hours of 9 to 5, so, in a way, you’re always working.
My car and purse are equipped with notebooks and pens in every nook and cranny, I take my camera with me pretty much wherever I go (whether I’m working a story or not) and my press pass is almost always within arm’s reach. The apps on my phone beep when there’s a news alert in the county and I’ve left many a family dinner to run out somewhere and snap a photo.
That being said, I don’t mind it. Spontaneity, to me, keeps things fresh and exciting. But recently, it’s become a problem.
My husband and I have two boys, Ben and Sam. Ben is now pushing 4-years-old, but as I was working as a wedding photographer when he was born, I enjoyed the luxury of being there for all of his early days. Sam came along just three months ago and I must say, I was completely naive about raising two children and returning to work.
It’s much harder than I thought.
I had assumed that raising two children would be much the same as raising one. (More experienced mothers are no doubt laughing at the ridiculousness of that statement.) I know now that I was an idiot. Perhaps when they get a little older it will ease up a bit but for now, my once fairly organized home has spiraled into a chaotic mess.
One of the boys is crying, the other is hungry, both need diapers changed, both need baths, Ben wants a story, Sam is screaming to be held — and it all has to be done right now. Meanwhile, at the other end of the county, a City Council meeting that I’m supposed to cover is starting in 20 minutes and I’m still in yoga pants …
Because Ben is a special needs child, we have therapists in our home five days a week. Daycare is not an option, someone has to be at home. Up until now, that person has been my husband. John has been the primary caregiver to our boys since I went back to writing full time a little over a year ago.
But recent events (such as having a new roof put on the house, a master cylinder blowing up on our car and our complete lack of any sort of an emergency savings account) have resulted in him seriously considering returning to the work force.
This has left me in quite the quandary.
John returning to work would no doubt alleviate the financial issues we have been faced with but it would also most likely result in me having to quit my job to stay home with the boys — and I have very mixed feelings about it.
I feel selfish for wanting to maintain a sliver of my independent life. I feel a responsibility to the papers themselves. I feel a strong sense of loyalty to my editor and feel that by leaving I would be letting her down. But at the same time, the prospect of returning home, putting my house back in order and being able to watch my boys grow is very appealing.
Simply put, I don’t know what to do.
Is my work more important than the well being of my family? No. But it’s not that simple. If it was I wouldn’t be kept awake at night stressing about it. The real question that’s bothering me is: “Will I be happy giving up not just a job, but part of who I am?”
I don’t know. And right now, I’m really hoping that I don’t have to find out.
Kasie Strickland is a staff writer for The Easley Progress, The Pickens Sentinel and Powdersville Post and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.