I have a confession to make: I have no desire to go back to work.
I find my PhD very interesting, but the fact is that I find Lily much more interesting.
A few years ago I would have thought that this attitude made me somewhat of a failed feminist. But I think that this is completely wrong. This isn't a gendered issue in our family - P. didn't want to go back to work either. Also, while feminism is partly about disentangling women's identities from motherhood, it should also be about recognising the value of such a role and legitimising anyone's decision to identify strongly with it.
In reality my attitude probably makes me more of a failed capitalist (hardly breaking news or something that I am concerned about), since I am not earning any money while I am home with Lily (now that my paid maternity leave is officially over). It is a little more complicated that that though, isn't it? It was feminism that enabled women to join the work force is such great numbers that the double income family became the norm. Enabling women to join the workforce in large numbers was undoubtedly a good thing - a fantastic thing really. However, our obsessively consumer-oriented capitalist society has almost succeeded in turning the double income into a base level requirement. Housing prices and lifestyle expectations are now largely based around a double income (or one partner working far too hard in order to earn a larger salary) and it is financially difficult for many households to only have one partner in the paid workforce.
The result of this is that many families feel compelled to place their children in childcare, not because they feel that it will be beneficial to their children or because they want the time out (both legitimate reasons that some families will relate to), but because they cannot afford not to. Surely there is something seriously wrong with this.
Of course, another complication that I cannot blame on the 'double-income norm' for my personal dilemma is that I have chosen to completely over-educate myself. I have a double-degree, a graduate diploma, a masters degree and am two years into a PhD. If I don't actually join the work force and use some of this education I think that I could justifiably be accused of wasting massive amounts of tax payer's money and that of my parents. [And, of course, I really have no choice in relation to finishing my PhD. I would never forgive myself if I just left it at this stage].
At the end of the day, I will probably quite enjoy getting back to the workforce once the shine of this whole motherhood gig starts to wear off. However, that doesn't mean that I won't be enviously reading about the lives of other women who have taken up a different lifestyle choice - or that I won't (every now and then) be plotting and scheming about doing so myself...