Can Women Have it All? | Seventh Generation
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Can Women Have it All?

30 comments
Author: sheila hollender

In a recent article, Anne-Marie Slaughter, the first woman Director of Policy Planning at the State Department in the Obama administration, argues that it's time we stopped fooling ourselves that women who have managed to be both mothers and top professional are superhuman, rich or self-employed. 

A highly-educated and successful woman who reached the upper echelons of her profession, Slaughter worked continuously through marriage and and two pregnancies. At the time she was offered her "foreign policy dream job" in Washington DC, both she and her husband were tenured professors at Princeton University.

Slaughter spent the work week in DC and commuted back home to New Jersey on the weekends, leaving the majority of child rearing and household duties to her very supportive husband. As she notes, most women would agree that, "she had it all." So it was interesting to read that even though her husband was doing an incredible job of parenting their two teenage sons, her inner mom was not able to let go completely and focus on her job. The prestigious job, the doors to opportunities that opened for her, her success at having reached the echelons of power still led her to the conclusion that juggling high-level government work with the needs of two teenage boys was not possible. When Slaughter's two-year public-service leave from Princeton University was up, she hurried home, not only to preserve her tenure but also but also to be with her family.

For most women today the option to work is not a choice but a necessity. As women, mothers and business people we try to make it all work and, in most cases, we are torn between doing a good job as a parent and doing a good job at work. The balancing act never becomes easy, but most women must accommodate the different aspects of their lives. Money, a supportive husband and flexible hours all help, but the root of the issue facing young women today is why most of them can't have it all as was promised to them by the boomer generation of women.

I retired from my law practice at the age of 39 to raise my three children. My husband was busy starting a new business and travelled every week. I got immersed in the daily job of being the best mom I could be. Before I knew it, twenty years passed and my youngest child is entering her senior year in high school. As I look back, I am still torn by my decision to leave the work force and have yet to make peace with that choice. I know that I did the best parenting possible, but would I have been happier had I been part of the working world? As a mentor to many young women today who are trying very hard to balance child rearing with their careers, I applaud their efforts and constantly advise them to do what is best for them and their family. I also tell them to keep something for themselves as the day will come when parenting responsibilities diminish (though they never end ) and they may again want to be a part of the greater business community.

What are your thoughts on how young women today try to balance all aspects of their lives? Please share in the comments below.

photo: skeddy in NYC

30
Comments

sheila hollender picture
sheila hollender
09/20/12
I thank you for all the heartfelt reponses to this question. I have come away from this question wondering if anyone ( men or women ) can ever have it all. The true answer lies with the expectations each one of us have for ourselves living on this planet. I have heard people who have a sick child say that if only their child would recover they would "have it all". For others, being able to feed your family everynight is what having it all is about. I need to take a harder look at what my life expectations are before I can begin to answer this question that has become more profound for me since I wrote this article.
Peanut12 picture
Peanut12
09/15/12
I will still never understand why moms that do not work have to continually disrepect working mothers. I use to feel guity over working but realizing the benefits my children have has helped me get passed this. With this economy, I am very thankful to have a great paying job with benefits. Not all working parents leave their kids in daycare 12 hours a day and working parents do "raise" their children. Staying home is not about just cutting expenses. I am in the military and before I thought about getting out to stay home with my second child we calculated that we could afford a 1-2 bedroom apartment on my husbands salary but barely groceries and absolutely nothing else and no benefits. Now he stays home with the kids and works part-time in the evenings. I work early and get home early and spend alot of time with my kids. I also use the time after they go to bed to work on my master's degree. I have a stay-at home mom friend who told me her and her husband constantly fight about money, how they can barely afford the things they need and they have very poor benefits. I actually think I am a better mom because the health care for my family is completely covered, I don't have to worry about my children getting sick. Regardless of what happens medically, my children will be covered. I don't have to pick and choose when I can "afford" to take my children to the doctor. I have family members that can "afford" to stay home but it's because of food stamps and WIC. I choose to raise my children differently. Instead of putting down other mothers, try being supportive. Be thankful that your spouse has a good job and you can stay home. I sacrifice my wants everday to ensure my children are cared for.
kaitobin picture
kaitobin
09/14/12
I've read the original article and even here see the author's point manifesting. In saying that 'women can't have it all' seems to identify that ANY role a woman lives results in some kind of sacrifice. Whether we stay at home and lose years of work experience (only to be under appreciated in this country) or work and lose quality time with our kids - we cannot win! The comments on here seem to be exceptionally critical of working moms. I for one see value in both roles, and hope that my choice to work brings something of value to my kids (especially my daughter). I would like to not only be financially more secure, but more importantly model for them the value of an advanced education, ways that they can contribute to a job/project that has meaning and valuable contribution, and NOT have it be seen as an abandonment. The intense criticism in some comments here seems to highlight a primary issue. No matter what choice we make, there is always a cost and ultimately it is this judgement and perception of our roles (ie. stay at home is the easy/lazy job; working is abandonment of the kids) that makes it so difficult. In reality, though, those perceptions are seriously flawed and we should come together to value all roles/choices in parenting.
ponaka12 picture
ponaka12
09/14/12
Meant to put "there" instead of their. Autocorrect on cell phones isn't always "correct"
ponaka12 picture
ponaka12
09/14/12
In reaction to the hsmith comment: bravo. As a young woman in her mid-twenties I have often wondered which would be the best option, and I know my personal answer. When the time comes, it will be the one that best suits me. So much can happen in life that alters our lives and decisions. I have known many people who had stay at home mothers and others who had working parents. Some turned out well in both situations and some turned out bad in both situations. It depends upon the people/family. Their are also balances and extremes. Some families function well with a stay at home mother who is there for the children, but I have found in extremes those children have been too sheltered or their mothers were so in denial about their childrens drug and sex issues despite being a cheering soccer mom. I have found that families with two working parents or one single parent are more tightly bound than stay at home mother families because the parents put the effort to make it all work and are a tight family unit. And in the extremes I have also known latch-key kids that had done more drugs and been more promiscuous by 13 than a 30 year old. My example is one of the extremes. My mother was a stay at home mom of two. I had a hard time in school when I was younger because my mother was verbally and physically abusive. For a long time I couldn't understand why she was so unhappy, and I know now that being a stay at home mother isn't for everyone. I would rather my mother at least have had a part-time job so she could get out of the house, be less depressed, and socialize with people. Rather than stay at home & be unhappy with her life. Not that I am using this as an excuse for her, what she did at the time was not okay, and my mother does love me, but some woman do need both experiences, and some don't.. She got help by the time I went to high school and I am now a successful young woman who finally showed her potential. If you are happy, your children are happy= again in a balanced situation in either scenario. Neither option is for everyone, and there's nothing saying you can't start out one way, and change later. Don't listen to judgement on either part, if your a good person, you'll choose right by you and your family, and you'll make it work the best you can. Whatever that decision may be.
bozanita picture
bozanita
08/17/12
My comments are absolutely not directed to those who must work outside the home in order to survive and therefore have no choice but to leave their children in someone else’s care while they juggle life and all that goes with it – in fact my heart goes out to them because it is not easy. But, rather, my comments are directed to those who DO have options – those who do or COULD have a choice – those who could scale back and alter their present lifestyle to allow them that choice. Aside from the known fact that children of all ages simply want to be home with their parents, and I doubt there are many children that would actually choose daycare if they had a voice in the decision, parents, especially mothers, would do well to ask themselves if they will be happy with their choice in the years to come. Ask yourself what doubts/regrets you might have at the end of your life – when time is gone and there is no going back? Will you look back and say, “Gee, I wish I would have spent more time at work.” Or, will your response be, “Gee, I wish I would have spent more time with the kids.” The problem is that time is finite, you only have so much and it passes VERY quickly – the blink of an eye – ask anyone whose kids are grown. Believe it or not, before you know it, you will have an empty nest. When that time eventually came for us and our children left home for college and marriage, our particular “nest” was much smaller than my most of my friends’. Every now and then I would look around at what we have compared to others and wonder if we made the right choice in leaving my nursing career to stay home and raise our family. But the reality is I can honestly say we don’t have any regrets about the sacrifices we made – modest house and all. Don’t get me wrong – we still had plenty of (and yes even too much) "stuff". Our house might have been smaller than some and vacations less extravagant, but we had plenty of what we needed. Now, looking back, I know that time was the most precious “possession.” I know that had we done it differently -- having a big house and lots of material possessions, we would have been left saying “why did we choose that over them – what on earth were we thinking?” I look back treasure our choice and regard it as a wonderful privilege that is not afforded to many. Time is fleeting and you can never get it back, so if you have options, weigh them long and hard. Just like if you want to do a good job at your job you have to put the time into it – to raise your children well, you have to put time into it. And, if you don’t have the option of staying home, you can still make your kids the priority over other things in your life aside from work – and they will notice – they will see your hard work and the other sacrifices for their sake. So, if you do have a choice, treasure the fact that you do, and carefully weigh your options – material things are fleeting, but time spent with your kids is even more fleeting - and valuable. A quote from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis sums it up: “If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do well matters very much.” It may be time to do better with less, and give that time back to your kids.
browen picture
browen
08/11/12
You wrote " I was wondering why some stay-at-home moms are so critical, judgmental, and mean to those of us who work." Stay at home moms work. Many women who work outside the home pay to have their homes cleaned, eat out much more or rely on ready-made meals from the store instead of cooking, pay others to watch their children.... We stay at home and watch our children, get involved in their schools or home school, cook, clean.. The choice is definitely a personal one, but stay-at-home moms absolutely do work. And actually, I do not know a stay-at-home mom who is critical, judgmental or mean concerning working-outside-the-home moms, but I have met plenty women who think moms really do not work if they are at home. Bottom line; you can only be in one place at a time so it is not possible to have it all. Something has to give and each person has to decide where they want to make concessions.
mcknellyvn picture
mcknellyvn
08/11/12
Actually, the article says that women who "have it all" ARE either superhuman, rich, or self-employed. The entire article is about how things need to change if we ARE going to be successful at both parenting and working. I agree that there are women who have a job they love that gives them enough time with their children, and I applaud them for working and being great moms and doing everything they want to do. It has not worked out that way for me. I gave up a successful military career that I loved so that my children would have one parent who could be there for them, who would NOT be deployed, and who could be the stabilizing force in our household as we continue to move from duty station to duty station. My husband has remained on active duty and it has been very difficult for me to watch him and all my friends make rank and get the jobs I was looking forward to, but I can never replace these years in my children's lives, and if I'm deployed for this stretch, if I'm working 16 hour days all the time, I will miss it all. I am looking into options that will allow me to do some things in a few more years, when my kids are a little older and better able to understand and deal with me being gone for a little while. Until then, I go nuts some days, feeling like it's Groundhog Day every day, but ultimately I am happy to be here, immersed in all these moments I would never have seen had I stayed on active duty. It took me over 3 years of hardcore soul-searching to write that resignation letter, and during that time I had every argument in the world thrown in my face. Look at how much income you're giving up. Look at what a great career you have and how much you love this, how can you walk away? Your kids will be so much happier for you and will have more pride in you and what you do if you work and provide a great role model for them. Also: if you're not home with them, you're not really their mother, someone else is. You just gave birth to them. I have heard it all. When I finally signed that letter, I had faced every argument and I had reached my own decision for my own reasons. I had laid every argument to rest. I am unassailable in this: I know why I chose my path, and I know it is the right one for me and my family. I'm not here to preach to anyone, I respect whatever choice you make. I'm not here to defend my choice, either. I am not interested in anyone else's opinion on it. I agree with the article, which in essence says that if you want to go as far as you can go in a job, really do the job to the absolute best of your ability, AND be a great mom, it's not going to work unless you have superhuman capabilities, a tremendous amount of money to throw at the situation, or you are self-employed and can call your own shots. I agree with that. I don't know if there's a way to do it all, to have it all, at the same time. Men don't have it all--if they're a stay at home dad, they aren't running major corporations or working their way up any ladders. If they are doing those jobs, they are not seeing very much of their kids. It takes a lot to raise a family in this day and age, it is not simple, there are no straightforward answers. I think we're all doing our best, and resources follow values. Everybody's got to decide what they value and apportion their resources appropriately. I am thrilled for those of you whose chosen profession provides you with the personal and professional satisfaction you need AND allows you to be the parent you want to be. I don't fall into that category, but that's okay. I'm happy with my choices
nicoleaprn picture
nicoleaprn
08/11/12
Why are stay at home Moms so quick to call working Moms selfish? Maybe they have too much time on their hands Everyone's circumstances are their own. Being at home doesn't make you a better Mom. Who you are inside makes you the Mom you are......
hsmith004 picture
hsmith004
08/04/12
Just because someone likes their job, is good at their job, or has to work, doesn't mean that their "ambition" as you put it is more important than their family. You know I spoke with my husband about this comment thread last night. I was wondering why some stay at home moms are so critical, judgmental, and mean to those of us who work. I mean if you really believe that what you are doing is best, why do you care what other people do? What do you get out of calling them names, or saying they are selfish? My husand said, and after listening to him I agree, that these are people that may want to work, or maybe don't want to work but feel bad they aren't and feel that they have to put others down to validate themselves and to make themselves and other believe they are doing the right thing. There is no such thing as the "right thing." There are plenty of working moms who raise well-adjusted, healthy, and yes, screwed up kids. Guess what? There are also plenty of stay at home moms who raise well-adjusted, healthy, and yes, screwed up kids. Staying home or working does not guarantee that your kids will turn out well. SO MANY other factors go into it. Everyone makes their own decisions and has to live with those decisions. Everyone is in a different situation. The key is get the two to work together. It is sad when what women have to do, is not what they want, and makes them unhappy. The key is to figure out how to be happy with what you have, which I know for many is easier said then done.
t.hawthorne picture
t.hawthorne
08/04/12
Sometimes there are days i really want to go back to work! But being happy right now will not always lead to happiness in the future. How can i expect my children to patient if i'm unwilling to do so in my own life. There are hard times for a mother as some have mentioned, like feeling isolated or depressed, feeling unappreciated. But remember, these times come for everyone and they don't last! For most people, life is never what you plan for it to be. I want teach our children to be flexible and that people are more important than my ambition.
sheila hollender picture
sheila hollender
08/04/12
I ma very moved by all the personal stories and insightful comments. Every family does have different needs and every decision each family makes is the right decision. The common thread of family priority and work choice ( if there is a choice ) are the dominant factors in all the comments. What I would like to see over the next decade are move women involved in government and politics. Once there is a significant number of women and mothers running the country policies will be implemented to help women / moms. Workplace equality, topnotch childcare at affordable rates are a priority which we need to pursue . As one comment said - you can have it all, but not necessarily all at once. Looking back over 57 years I can truly say that is an incredibly wise perspective!
Sheryl Hart picture
Sheryl Hart
08/04/12
My hat goes off to the women of this generation. I am a 61 year old granny, who raised my son as a single mom. Work was a must. I have to say I had a wonderful support network in my family. I watch my son and daughter-in-law balance kids and work, along with the last 5 years she has been in school getting her degree. Now, I work part time, due to some health issues and my husband is self-employed. The health insurance premiums are killers. I would love nothing more than to stay home, have a much larger garden, so I could can and freeze more of our food, and be able to manage more than the 2 grass fed beef we raise each year for family. All that to say that, each family needs to decide what works best for them; the added income or the chance to not rely so heavily on the retail system for all their needs.
Dupontr1 picture
Dupontr1
08/04/12
I have a two-year old and work full time, but not by choice. My husband and I each contribute 50% to our household income, and while people say they get by with less, I'd like to see them get by with half. The economy has hit male-dominated fields related to construction the hardest, and more and more college educated women are carrying more of the burden. Because my husband is self-employed, I have to work full time to provide decent health insurance to my family. If I were to work part time or stay home and bought insurance on the private market without any employer contribution, we'd be paying more for insurance than we do for our mortgage! Thanks to the public option not passing in the healthcare law, our options are limited. I love my job, I'm a speech pathologist working with special needs kids. But I dream about working part time, and struggle with how to afford a second child as daycare costs are so high, especially here in new england. I know women who pay $400-$700 per WEEK to put two or three kids in day care, just so they can bring home their health insurance premium; the rest of their paycheck goes to daycare. And our maternity leave system is sad. FMLA covers only a small percentage of women as small businesses are excempt. I got 12 weeks unpaid thanks to FMLA, and was lucky to have enough sick and vacation time to get paid for most of it. But I had to re-enter work without any sick days left if my baby was sick. Many women work low-wage jobs with no paid time off whatsoever. No wonder so few women are able to breastfeed the first year with such a short maternity leave. I was lucky to have a boss who supported me pumping, but it was a real hassle and I understand why so many women turn to formula. Our attitude of self-reliance, pull yourself up by the bootstraps and just work hard, is not working out. I have seen children with attachment disorders because they never see their parents, and Mom and Dad are too tired to play when they are around. I have seen single women working three jobs to pay the rent while their kids sit in front of TVs because they can't afford high-quality childcare. I wonder what kind of citizens our mother-bashing system is producing, and I think in the long run our fear of even the appearance of socialism is going to back fire in our faces.
odomk picture
odomk
08/04/12
I am one of four, and I was in daycare. Both of my parents worked full time jobs, but I always had a home cooked meal for dinner, help with my homework, and a story read to me almost every night. My siblings and I all graduated at the top of our class and went to college. I never felt deprived or that I was missing anything. My family was working class and never had much money, so a stay at home wife was never an option, but my mother had it all and she is an amazing role model. I feel that if I were a stay at home mother and wife, I would be depriving my children of a strong, successful female role model. I have it all and I feel sorry for those who can not find a balance.
mc868 picture
mc868
08/04/12
I hated working full time and was so happy when we had our baby. I quit my job 3 months into the pregnancy. Both my husband and I wanted me to be able to stay home with the baby and I'm so thankful that I'm able to do so. I cannot imagine having to go to a job and take care of a child. I feel very blessed that I'm able to stay home with her.
hsmith004 picture
hsmith004
08/04/12
I think we need to look at what the definition of having it all means. I would not say that spending the entire work week away from your kids is "having it all.". In my opinion, that is having your career, not a family, and not the definition of having it all. Does that mean women can't work? Absolutely not! Women need to decide what is best for them, and that is a personal decision. I am a teacher, and I believe that I have it all. I get to work and make money at a job I love and also happen to be good at. However, I know that I am in a minority, and I know how blessed and lucky I am. Most women are not as lucky as me. I get to work when my daughter is still asleep to work in my classroom, while my husband gets up and takes her to daycare at a reasonable time. I am on the road to pick her up and get her by 3:00pm. We have the whole afternoon together, I have holidays and summers off with her, and sick days to use when we are sick. Again, most woman are not this lucky, but this is my definition of having it all. You want to talk about studies. How about the one that found that women who work part or full-time tend to be happier, less depressed, and less isolated? To all of you who say it isn't about you, it is about your kids, I know for a fact that if I am happier, my family is happier. My daughter is no worse for attending daycare. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, believe it or not, see loves school, and just like preschool she gets things out of it! When my husband drops her off she can't wait to see her friends and play. If I think of picking her up while they are playing outside, forget it! She has a meltdown because she it not ready to leave. She is a healthy, meeting her milestones, well adjusted 18 month old. To all of you stay at home moms, if that is your choice, and you stay at home, I applaud you, good for you!n How about this through, why don't you get off your high horse, get with the 21st century, and show the same respect to us working moms by not bashing us! (I am not speaking to all stay at home moms, just the ones with a strong opinion that they are better than everyone else who works, and the ones calling all of us who work selfish.). As far as our baby boomer parents generation goes, who do you think made got it to be law that working women had to be given a time and place to pump at work so they could still breast feed? Who do you think fought for our right to have leave of absence and have our jobs held so we could stay home longer? Who fought for using our sick days for when our kids are sick? Who got got it to be law that we get time off work for things like parent-teacher conferences? Who has made our struggle that much easier? Yes, that fist generation who went back to work and promised us it all. To them, I say THANK YOU. Maybe it is time we really look at what "having it all" means.
Jude113 picture
Jude113
08/04/12
Before kids, I never thought I would want to stop teaching, now I stay home with 3 girls and couldn't imagine it any other way. (we too cut back our expenses so I could stay home) I constantly feel like I am not doing enough with/for my kids. It is hard to divide my time between all 3 and frequently it's the squeaky wheel that get's the grease. There even are crazy days when I wish I had a job to escape to. But I have enjoyed getting to see my girls grow up. (My oldest starts kindergarten this fall.) I feel good knowing I have time to put healthy meals on the table, play with my kids and read extra books before bed instead of working on lesson plans or grading papers in preparation for the next day. (all things I didn't have time for when I was still working) And frankly, my marriage is better because I stay home. When my baby is finally in school I hope to return to work. My career may never advance as far as it could have, but I will never have to look back at and feel guilty because I wasn't able to see my kids grow up. They are only young once!
Stacy7272 picture
Stacy7272
08/04/12
A woman may be able to have it all but at the cost of her children. Whoever thinks that their child is at daycare contemplating their mother's happiness and success at a job is fooling themselves. Children don't think like that. And to say that "most" women HAVE to have a job is totally unfounded. Maybe "some" do but the majority choose to. Many who feel that HAVE to have a job just really don't want to make the hard changes to lower their expenses to be able to afford to stay at home.
shanna31 picture
shanna31
08/04/12
It is selfish to consider yourself having it all if you think that throwing your kid in daycare that they are getting the care they need. If you were a baby, would you want to be home with a loving parent or left at a daycare 12 hours a day? No brainer. These parents are selfish. We get by on less (much less) but cant justify spending $500/week on a daycare and driving costs, clothes, etc. just to leave them with someone that will never care for them the way I do. And my kids have me. It's the feminist movement at work. Read the post by Shawn and then ask yourself if letting someone else raise your kids was worth it.
ttbug07 picture
ttbug07
08/04/12
I feel parenting and working has been like a sea saw...I'm going up and down, but at the same time Lol! I love being a mom and feel oh so guilty when I have to leave my son or when I can't attend his events at school because of work and unfortunately I don't have much of a flexible job. I envy you stay at home moms!
CoachKaterina picture
CoachKaterina
08/04/12
I could not find a way to edit my comment. I see some typos and incorrect grammar. I was typing so fast as thoughts flowed from my mind. Excuse me.
CoachKaterina picture
CoachKaterina
08/04/12
I have 6 beautiful children- 5 of them grown up and 1 who is nine. My nine year old is 14 years younger than my second youngest child. I homeschooled all of them and still am. I also have 6 grandchildren so I am a mom of a young child and grandmother to many more. I decided when I was 19 years old and pregnant that no matter how tough times got I would never leave my children to work away from home. I chose to be an entrepreneur and chose businesses that I could have my children with me. I nursed all those children, not one of them ever had a bottle. I raise my youngest knowing all the trials of raising the other children. Myself and my children were abused by my first husband, the father of 5 of the children. I would not ever leave my kids alone with him either so spousal support? Forget that for the first 20 years until I had the courage to leave with my children. Now I am happily married to a wonderful man who became all of these kids' father plus he and I had our youngest son together. I work with my son sitting doing his schoolwork right next to me. I was the daughter of a mother who was never there. While my mother - who was a student at Stanford getting her PHD- was at school I took care of my siblings. I was 9 years old when I learned how to bake a cake because I wanted to have a cake so badly. My mother died at the age of 40 and I was 18. As I raised my children I felt so bad that she missed out not just on us but her grandchildren also. I vowed to never allow my children to feel what I felt. I got into such trouble as a wild teenager because my mother was a single mom and did not even know half the time what we as kids were up to. She was so focused on her own path that was not inclusive of us. There are so many moms that feel like they have to work because they need the money. In most cases, this is not the case. I have sat down with moms and showed them that if they leave their kids to go get a job- that the money they make from that job is just enough to pay for child care, an extra car, car insurance, clothes for work, food for lunch, etc. Many times they mom is paying to go to work! I know so many one income families where the moms make do with one income so they can teach their children at home. These moms learn how to coupon, make food from scratch, learn how to earn extra income at home and save in many other ways. Most of the "stuff" in our lives we buy or work for is not anything meaningful or anything we HAVE to have. Keeping up with the Jones is not the way to go. Being with your family is. That goes for dads too.
dmgrinde picture
dmgrinde
08/03/12
This is not just a question for women, it is also for men. My ex and I divorced when my son was small but we always worked as a team. The issue is not whether a women works, it is how much support she and her children have. My ex remarried so my son has always had 3 people in his life that love him with all their hearts. I could not stay home even if I could afford. That would not be good for me. His dad and step mom also work but my son knows if he needs us, all 3 of us will be there for him.
skskeeters picture
skskeeters
07/31/12
I love my family, and I love my job. I could never give either one up. As a young mother to 2 (soon to be 3) kids, I've been asked repeatedly if/when I plan to quit my job. Why would I do that??? I work because it makes me happy, and I want my kids to see that. I'm very blessed that I've found a job that I enjoy that is also very flexible. I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything. If I need to leave early, I leave early. If I need to take a day off I do it. The childcare bills are painful, I'll admit, and I don't make *that* much money, but I feel like I (pretty much) have it all and I wish the same for all moms.
sheila hollender picture
sheila hollender
07/31/12
Thank you for sharing your stories. Choices are difficult and the work family balance is indeed one that differs for all of us. For many women having more affordable day care options is a must.
Shawn Herbold picture
Shawn Herbold
07/31/12
Growing up, I didn't have my parents around. My mother had me when she was young and my parents divorced when I was young. They were both selfish people chasing dreams. Meanwhile, I was left in the hands of day-care, Boys and Girls Club and other family members. I understand that single mothers often do not have a choice in whether they work, but they do have a choice in how much they let their own desires trump the emotional needs of their children. My mother's decisions were in her own best interest, not in mine. I am proud to say I am now a functioning, productive member of society, but it took a lot of hitting rock bottom for me to get here. My mom and I still aren't close. At 52, she's still pursuing that "dream job" that will fulfill her, but hasn't found her bliss yet. Unfortunately, she never saw that in having a daughter, she had what would fulfill her all along if only she weren't so self-involved. As a woman, you CAN have it all, so long as you realize that when you choose to have children, "all" becomes your beautiful family for whom you are fully present.
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jlorrain
07/30/12
Thank you for this article. My daughter will turn 6 months this week and balancing her care with the demands of a job I love is a weekly challenge. When she was born I made the decision to cut back to part-time. There are times I feel so overjoyed and grateful for the gift of being able to stay home with her and experience her special moments first-hand. Then there are days when I wish for more time to spend getting caught up at work, going to evening networking events and generally moving forward in my career. Sometimes I wonder whether I'll reach my career goals until she (and potential sibling(s)) are in college. And, guiltily, if I'll feel fulfilled with that.
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vikess10
07/30/12
I made the decision to forgo a career, and mostly stayed home to raise 4. My youngest is now moving out/on. While I did work some part time, and even full time, jobs while they children were in school, they were nothing that would be considered career-enhancing. I am glad I was able to attend 95% of the games/concerts/competitions etc, and would not give up those times for anything. As for where I am now, I don't know how to qualify it. The economy is far worse than I had ever imagined, and at my age, and lack of career experience, it's very difficult to decide what to do. As far as trying to keep a hand or foot in the field I studied--and didn't pursue--I am not that same person, and don't know that I'd want to go there now. There are no right answers to tell young women/mothers starting out; there are good things and problems with any decision. The future is not predictable, and no one sets out to make a bad decision. So, I guess we all make the best we can at the time, and must learn to forgive ourselves if it doesn't turn out the way we were hoping. And I think forgiving yourself is the biggest thing you can do for 'you'...
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VTMamateurs
07/30/12
As the mother of an (almost) 18-month old, I find the work/parenting balancing act to be the toughest endeavor I have ever taken on. While I reassure myself that I am still a good mother AND a hard worker, I constantly feel as though one aspect is suffering slightly: either I am less timely than usually with work duties, or I feel as though I don't get to see my son enough during the weekdays that I work. While I like to think that this will get better as my son (and any future children) gets older and more independent- I can't be sure...but it helps to keep me going on the late-working days when I particularly struggle with this.