Saturday, June 9, 2012


It was the Friday after Memorial Day three years ago that my (old) boss came downstairs with a certain look on her face that communicated nothing and everything at the same time. "They want to see you upstairs," she said. And I knew what that meant.

At the time, it was a pretty horrendous experience (one that I will happily give you all the details about off the record)... but it turned out to be a huge benefit to my career and to my personal well-being.

Which is why it is thoroughly ironic that this year, on the Friday after Memorial Day, I walked into my (current) boss's office and gave him my notice. This action was not preceded by a disdain for my job or my coworkers or anything like that; rather, it was based upon something infinitely more personal. I had reached a point where I felt that I had to choose between my career and my child. And while the choice felt obvious, it wasn't easy.

For the past ten months, I've been in the unique position of having a foot in two disparate camps: the stay-at-home mothers and the working mothers. I've always had a disdain for the idea that these groups often seem to oppose each other. I touched on that idea a bit in a previous post, but I have to say that now that I am a mother, and a working mother at that, I think I have a better insight into the complexities of this issue.

My choice to go back to work following the birth of my daughter was not a simple one, but one that my husband and I decided was the best decision for our family at the time. The company I work for generously allowed me to come back at slightly reduced hours and gave me the flexibility to work some of that time from home. And oh the health benefits. Let's just say that because of said benefits, Sofia's NICU bills (and her birthing costs) were not in any way prohibitive. Greg was finishing up law school at the time, and it felt selfish of me to stay home with her when it felt like this work opportunity would be such a benefit to my little family. Plus, I really loved (and still love) my job.

[By the way, isn't it a bit sad that I feel like I have to defend my choice to go back to work?]

I'll be honest when I say that I felt a bit of judgement come upon me from the stay-at-home set. Which I fully expected, but didn't enjoy. But I also felt a bit of judgement come from the other side, from the working set, because I wasn't working enough. Which was less expected but equally undesirable.

I had this epiphany one day that pretty much substantiated what I'd already been thinking. It basically revolves around the idea that we as women should stop judging each other. You can never fully know another person's situation or the motivation and intentions behind how they parent. I know women who work who make more time for and pay more attention to their children than a lot of women who stay at home. (Don't get me started on that, because I might start sounding a bit judgy. Because what. in. the. hell. do you do all day? Pinterest can't be that all-consuming. Can it?) I also know women who have eschewed illustrious and fulfilling careers to stay at home who have done so in order to be fully present and committed to the rearing and development of their children. (Ladies, I salute you.) And I also know women who work who have to work to support their families, who would love to have the option to stay at home, but who literally cannot. (It really sucks that women don't have better options, people. That's what we should really be focusing on. Seriously.)

Like I mentioned above, the reason I did what I did is because things got to a point where I felt that I had no other option but to choose between my career and my child. (Remember how I mentioned it sucks that women don't have better options?) So obviously, I'm going to pick my child. And not just because she's cute and has mastered some mad dance skills, but because I do want to be more actively involved in raising her and watching her grow.

Frankly, I'm a bit scared. Scared because I am beginning to understand the level of commitment that it takes to raise a decent human being, and that is now going to encompass more of my time. (Since she was born, she's either been with me, my husband or my mother.) Thus, she's not going to be able to interact with her dad as much or with her grandma, and that makes me a bit sad. Because they're pretty damn amazing. It's also scary to give up such a great job, in this economy, and one that I know I'm good at. Because I don't always feel like I'm the best parent. It's just not something that you can ever be perfect at, and that irks me.

All of that aside, I am excited to begin this new phase of my life, this new career, if you will. Though I will be sad to leave my job and the amazing people I work with, I know that I have a vivacious and giggly little girl at home who likes to read stories and play with her mom's shoes and cuddle when she's sleepy. And that's pretty amazing too.

My little ham


kenna said...

beautiful post, lady.

oh, and beautiful kiddo.

Shannon said...

she's gorgeous, and so are you. there always seems to be juxtapositions in the things that matter most, yes? I salute YOU for taking this difficult decision seriously. That, alone, makes you a fantastic mother.

Jane said...

I'll miss you dearly, but am beyond thrilled for you. After all, at the end of life, nobody ever complains or laments that they spent too much time with their children :).