In the fall of 2008, when Gwen was about six months old, I told Chris that I didn't want to go back to work full-time. "I want to work part-time," I said, "and be home with Gwen the rest of the time." And Chris vetoed it, saying we couldn't afford it. We couldn't afford to live on his salary plus half mine. And so in April 2009 I went back to work full-time, and that was the hardest adjustment I ever had to make, from stay-at-home mom to working mom. And I spent nearly a year being incredibly unhappy in my very volatile job, and then I found a job with a different department, and since then I've been pretty darn happy at work.
And then Chris lost his job.
And then we had to scale back Gwen's daycare* commitment because we can't afford to pay for 3-4 days a week of daycare while Chris is at home.
And soon he will be receiving EI which will be somewhere around half of his previous salary.
So here we are, living on my salary and half of his, while he is at home part-time with our child. Something that apparently, we could not afford to do.
I know he can't understand why, or empathize with me at all, but I'm jealous.
Not to mention completely baffled by how we ended up in this unimagined situation. I never pictured myself as the breadwinner. I'm not career-driven: I love what I do, but I don't live for it. I'm not continually seeking ways to fulfil my ambitions. Having a child didn't derail my career goals. Hell, I don't even know if I have career goals, other than to continue being employed until I can afford to retire.
And meanwhile he's jealous of me, because at least I have a job to go to. At least I have some way to define myself.
I feel like I'm in a weird mirror-image world. It's disorienting. I don't think this is to do with my preconceived gender roles so much as the utter lack of planning and choice that went into our current situation. Meaning, if we had consciously chosen to live this way then I would probably feel less disoriented. But in reality our situation has landed on us and we are just trying to adjust to it the best we can. I guess when you find yourself in an unforseen situation, you end up doing unimagined things.
*Thank God we have the flexibility to do this. If we were in a daycare centre, as I originally planned, rather than a home-based daycare, this wouldn't even be an option: we would just lose our spot.