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Are you a professional mom who opted out?

post #1 of 94
Thread Starter 
This is probably a thread that applies mostly to US women, because I know the family policies in other countries are different than here.

For those who don't know what I mean...I mean college educated, working in a professional field (either in business, at a university, in a scientific field, etc) and decided to take some time to be home with your children either short term or permanently.

If you fall into this category, can you help me out?

I was a professional who opted out. I worked for 12 years in the field of biology. My last job title was Lab Supervisor. Granted, it was a very small lab (3 people), but nonetheless, I was really proud of working at a pretty prestigious university hospital lab. I felt I was really making a contribution to others (particularly because it was medical genetics testing for rare genetic diseases). The work my lab did gave families answers they didn't have before.

After a series of fortunate events, it became no longer necessary for me to "have" to work. I have bills under control, and even decent savings in my own name only (so theoretically not "dependent" on my dh). Add to that, I was having some issues with work that weren't being resolved to my satisfaction and I was gone 11 hours a day.

I've been an at home mom for almost 4 years, and I know without question that it is the right choice for my children (particularly when we have weeks where someone is always sick, like the last month where my dd3 has had a stomach virus, conjunctivitis, and now some sort of viral infection with a 103 degree fever for the last 48 hours. I imagine I'd be taking off lots of time to be with her if I was working and in trouble over that).

However, I also feel and have felt a restlessness in my spirit and doubts in my head about whether or not I did the right thing for me.

Then I come across articles such as this (http://aol.beliefnet.com/story/202/story_20237_1.html)
about Linda Hirshman - and there are others too similar to this - that basically tell me how wrong I was to give up my job, how essentially it's socially irresponsible to walk away from a career and I'm lowering my potential by staying at home (even for the short term).

How do you feel about "opting out" even for the short term?
Are you glad that you did?
Do you feel longings to go back yet kinda depressed that you derailed your own career (in my case, there was truly no part time option because I was so specialized there was nothing that wasn't an hour away from home, and certainly nothing part time).

Do you feel out of place with the "all I ever wanted to be was a stay at home mom" women, yet out of place with the working moms too? I feel I have little in common with either. Actually I feel little in common with a lot of people, because I tend to have some pretty heavy thoughts.

Do you feel overall screwed as a mom - screwed if you go to work and leave your kids in the care of another while you pursue your own ambitions, and screwed if you choose to stay at home, because you derailed your own career? (I can't possibly think I'm the only one who feels this way). And then doubly screwed because you know someone's going to have an opinion (and sometimes a nasty one) on the choices you made?

I need to have some opinions of other mothers who opted out. I am on a journey and I need some enlightenment.

I've always been one to feel "I'm doing what I want to do and to heck with anyone else". But is this a bad idea? Is this why I'm so conflicted? Maybe I should be pursuing rebuilding a career and figuring out how I can do that with minimal impact to my children's well-being.

Dh tells me it's could be a "grass is always greener" type of thing. When I was working, I longed to be home, now that I'm home, I long for something more.

I don't know how to reconcile the feelings I have. The best I'm able to do at the moment is take a class this semester. At the same time, it irks me that it's costing me $700 to take 1 class (yikes!).

Has anyone else feel remotely this way before? What have you done/are you doing about it?

Thanks for reading and sharing any insights/personal discoveries you have made.
post #2 of 94
Oh my gosh no i don't agree with the idea that it's socially irresponsible to not work outside the house! I think being at home with kids is a very important place and fufills much- not only for our individual families but even in our communities.

For example I am home almost full time. So i can help out at the girls' school. If i was working, i wouldn't be able to do that. Not to mention my career path was interior design- not exactly something the world just can't live without, kwim?
post #3 of 94

you described my feelings exactly

Quote:
Originally Posted by kmcmommyto3 View Post

How do you feel about "opting out" even for the short term?
Are you glad that you did?
Do you feel longings to go back yet kinda depressed that you derailed your own career (in my case, there was truly no part time option because I was so specialized there was nothing that wasn't an hour away from home, and certainly nothing part time).

Do you feel out of place with the "all I ever wanted to be was a stay at home mom" women, yet out of place with the working moms too? I feel I have little in common with either. Actually I feel little in common with a lot of people, because I tend to have some pretty heavy thoughts.

Do you feel overall screwed as a mom - screwed if you go to work and leave your kids in the care of another while you pursue your own ambitions, and screwed if you choose to stay at home, because you derailed your own career? (I can't possibly think I'm the only one who feels this way).
Am I glad I opted out? All in all, yes I am. I toyed with a few job postings (I never got as far as applying) when my kids were young but I decided that it just wasn't the right time. On the way to where I am now I changed my priorities.

I also had no real options. The only jobs in my field would have required me to either live apart from dh or for both of us to commute. Since both of our careers require long apprenticeships that would have put a big strain on us financially.

All that said, I really enjoyed the time with my kids. I now look back on those days fondly, crazy as it was.

But in answer to your second question I do feel like I don't fit in. I also had issues because I never really had a succesful career. I was in grad school forever and I hadn't reached the upper levels when I quit. So I felt like a loser for not having a career but also like a loser because I didn't start my family early. Not that I wanted to but it would have made it easier for me to fit in agewise IYKWIM.

I admit it took me a long time to work through these issues. But now I'm getting ready to go back to work part-time. And I really feel ready. I'm not really making enough money to justify working but that's not the only reason I'm doing it. I'll be able to split childcare with dh as he has a flexible schedule so that helps. Also there is a possibility that what I'm doing could lead to something. It is a career shift but as work in my previous field isn't feasible that's okay with me.

What you said about the cost of taking a class really resonates with me. I've wanted to take classes for years but I've never been able to justify the cost. Same with another graduate degree. It's okay though as I've found other ways to get experience.

I'd love to discuss this more. I'm looking forward to reading all the responses.
post #4 of 94
Thread Starter 
Thanks for posting...I hope there are more responses to come.

The school thing...keeps bothering me. I will be taking an introductory class to investigate possibly teaching science, but at the same time, I'm not sure I'm up for all the junk that comes with it (the politics, the NCLB, the stress).
I keep second guessing my decision, esp since I just found out I need 2 books for the class and the one they had in stock was $100. It could end up being a waste if I decide not to go into it...

****

I've been wishing to find women to discuss this with IRL, you know. I know there are people on both sides of the issue - those that work and are glad that they did, then those that stay at home and have never had problems with being right where they are with it. But actually having someone to talk to that has done both IRL is very hard to find. It would be nice to have a discussion dealing with how others have stayed home yet was able to either return to the workplace, or came to a place of peace about staying home indefinitely.

Don't get me wrong, overall I have loved being able to be at home. I have had a lot of blessings by being here for them, especially since for the first 2 years of dd1s life, I was gone 11 hours of the day, and had about 2 hours to spend with her at night, and weekends (and on holidays when we visited the ILs, MIL had a tendency to steal my dd away from me - thinking she was doing me a favor, but I really didn't want anyone else but me close to her because I really didn't get enough time with her). My commute was 1.5 hours each way (so 3 just spent traveling to work).

And I didn't do either job very well for long. Especially when I got pg with dd2 11 months after dd1 was born. It was torture dragging myself into work, and then when dd2 was born, I was even more exhausted after I returned from maternity leave than I had ever been in my life. I fell asleep singing songs to my dd1 when I rocked her to sleep, I was frequently late to work in the mornings, I got in trouble for that one with my lab director. I was making a poor example to my subordinates, and she even put that on my yearly review.
In addition, I was overlooked a few times for some new training opportunities as her priorities were for the lab and not for personel development and advancement. I felt less and less inclined to stay loyal to her (a mother herself) and opted out.

It hasn't been without it's challenges with them, but overall, it has been a positive experience for me as well as for them. My own mother worked, but she was really distant when she was home. She was like that for my older sisters too, and consequently we do things quite differently with our children. However, I did notice with me when I worked, I was also finding excuses not to come home because I was so stretched to my limit that I stayed longer than I needed to a lot.

Now it's just that I'm thinking of the future, of when my littlest is in school in a few short years. And of the fact that dh's father died when he was only 51, so it's not unlikely that it could happen to dh as well. I don't want to be so far removed from the possibility of re-entering the workforce that my chances of a job I could actually support a family on would be slim.

I don't know. I sometimes think I'm cursed with thinking too much. Dh tells me things will work out, and not to stress to much about the unknown variables. And in a way, he's right. He finally got back into engineering after a 6 year detour (due to a job layoff and only being able to work assembly line work - that was a major hit to his esteem). But still it's not easy to keep out the doubts, you know?

At any rate, I am also blessed with a dh who at least understands most of my feelings (having been a SAHD for 7 months), and is supportive of whatever I do (find a job, stay at home, return to school), as long as I'm happy and it doesn't negatively affect our girls, he's happy too.

Okay, I know I'm rambling. I'm getting tired. Just thought I'd revisit this one last time before bed. I've been trying to get back online since I posted but the little one with her fever has been needing me most of the day and night.
post #5 of 94
I was a nuclear engineer for a DOE lab before taking a hiatus to stay home while our children are young and while DH finishes out his time until retirement in the military. I've been not working for a bit over 4 years now and DH has not quite 5 years left.

How do you feel about "opting out" even for the short term? Overall I'm glad but there are times when I do feel torn. Times when I miss what I used to do.

Are you glad that you did?
Yes, I am. I had never really thought about it when I was young but now I'm really glad I've had this opportunity.

Do you feel longings to go back yet kinda depressed that you derailed your own career. At times I feel like I'll never have the career that I would have had. At times I feel a bit down over it, but then most of the time I feel that my life is headed in a different direction.

Do you feel out of place with the "all I ever wanted to be was a stay at home mom" women, yet out of place with the working moms too? Yes, I do, and it's hard to try to explain to anyone. I usually just get "oh, I always knew I would stay home" or "why don't you just go back to work?" It's not that simple and there are times when I just want to talk about it with someone else who has been in the same situation.

Do you feel overall screwed as a mom - screwed if you go to work and leave your kids in the care of another while you pursue your own ambitions, and screwed if you choose to stay at home, because you derailed your own career? (I can't possibly think I'm the only one who feels this way). And then doubly screwed because you know someone's going to have an opinion (and sometimes a nasty one) on the choices you made?
Yes. I haven't found a way to reconcile this yet.

I'm also spinning my wheels about what I want to do in the future. I would really like to homeschool my kids, but don't know how DH would feel about the idea of me staying home long term. Our deal was that I would go back to work after he is done in the military. I had planned on starting work on my M.S. (I found a good distance program, which surprised me) that would get me a bit updated and ready to go back into the field, plus it would be easier to get a job after grad school than after having just stayed home for ~10 years and done nothing.

And part of me isn't even that excited about going back into my field, I wonder if I'm just planning on it because it's the path of least resistance. I've always wanted to write but don't know if I'll try to head in that direction or not.
post #6 of 94

This is me too

And I am very happy with the choices that I have made. I am Canadian, but I'm not sure how my experience is different than yours, but I am really interested in pursuing this thread further as this issue has been on my mind a lot lately - just not tonight as I'm wiped. I'll give this some more thought and post again tomorrow. :yawning:
post #7 of 94
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Sonja View Post
I was a nuclear engineer for a DOE lab before taking a hiatus to stay home while our children are young and while DH finishes out his time until retirement in the military. I've been not working for a bit over 4 years now and DH has not quite 5 years left.

How do you feel about "opting out" even for the short term? Overall I'm glad but there are times when I do feel torn. Times when I miss what I used to do.

Are you glad that you did?
Yes, I am. I had never really thought about it when I was young but now I'm really glad I've had this opportunity.

Do you feel longings to go back yet kinda depressed that you derailed your own career. At times I feel like I'll never have the career that I would have had. At times I feel a bit down over it, but then most of the time I feel that my life is headed in a different direction.

Do you feel out of place with the "all I ever wanted to be was a stay at home mom" women, yet out of place with the working moms too? Yes, I do, and it's hard to try to explain to anyone. I usually just get "oh, I always knew I would stay home" or "why don't you just go back to work?" It's not that simple and there are times when I just want to talk about it with someone else who has been in the same situation.

Do you feel overall screwed as a mom - screwed if you go to work and leave your kids in the care of another while you pursue your own ambitions, and screwed if you choose to stay at home, because you derailed your own career? (I can't possibly think I'm the only one who feels this way). And then doubly screwed because you know someone's going to have an opinion (and sometimes a nasty one) on the choices you made?
Yes. I haven't found a way to reconcile this yet.

I'm also spinning my wheels about what I want to do in the future. I would really like to homeschool my kids, but don't know how DH would feel about the idea of me staying home long term. Our deal was that I would go back to work after he is done in the military. I had planned on starting work on my M.S. (I found a good distance program, which surprised me) that would get me a bit updated and ready to go back into the field, plus it would be easier to get a job after grad school than after having just stayed home for ~10 years and done nothing.

And part of me isn't even that excited about going back into my field, I wonder if I'm just planning on it because it's the path of least resistance. I've always wanted to write but don't know if I'll try to head in that direction or not.
Sonja - wow, are you ever on the same wavelength as I am (I even have considered writing too, but I'm my own worst critic - I can't think of coming up with something that hasn't already been said before). I sat here reading this post this morning and I feel like you really get it - the place where I'm at. It's just not simple is it? It's hard to explain to anyone who isn't in this position.

It's not like getting just ANY job would be as fulfilling as the one we left. And then I read articles about how still so few women are going into the math and science fields and I felt like hey, I was one of them, and then I bailed. I felt oddly guilty.

And of course, I have 3 girls, so I think about their futures. What if they aspire to be scientists, doctors or other professionals? But then how do I advise them? Go after your dreams, but realize you may have a change of heart after you have children, and then will they a) put their children in daycare while they pursue their ambitions and feel guilty for doing so or b) stay at home with their children and mourn a certain amount of loss of identity? I would hope, by then, things will be different for them. That there will be major changes to the system so they don't face the same dilemma.

My brother's wife is going through her medical residency. I asked her what she will do when she has children, and she said, "oh, my mother did it (worked while she had children), so I think I can too". And I'm thinking, yeah, with your salary and my brother's (he's a lawyer), you guys will be able to afford a nanny and not have to consider daycare.

But on the other hand, I wonder about myself - why isn't contributing to my children's growth and development enough? Except I realize it's a problem stemming from my personal history (I used to scorn family and children growing up because I had a really difficult relationship with my parents - mom got divorced when I was 2 and had remarried when I was 5 - my mom was very bitter at my dad and it came through a lot to us), a problem of being conditioned to think the only valuable work is paid work, and a problem of relying on extrinsic rewards (a paycheck, a promotion, recognition from bosses) for boosts to my self esteem, and a problem that I invested in my education and it's hard not to feel a teeny bit guilty for not pursuing my career. Fortunately, I had no school debt when I graduated, which I realize is not the norm for most.

It's been suggested to me that I place too much of my self-esteem in my career. Hmm, okay, maybe. But all I ever wanted to do when I grew up was be self-sufficient and use my intellect. I never gave much thought to how children would work into the equation - that was always a distant prospect to be delayed indefinitely. Then I had 3 children in 3.5 years. Life changed drastically, though I tried to limp along with work and children for 2.5 years without real success at either.

I was never one to walk away from a challenge prior to children (okay, I bailed out on my mulitvariate calculus class before I failed it completely). But honestly, there will come a day when my children leave the nest, and if I have done nothing in the meantime, I fear will have nothing to take up again.

On the other hand, I really have lost the ability to read complex scientific articles (that started when I was pg with dd2), and as I age, I realize I am not recalling as much information as I was once able to. I have my old textbooks and can barely get through a few pages at a time because I'm just like "why am I straining my head so much trying to comprehend these complex topics anyway - I just don't have the brain capacity I once had". And I can't figure out how I'd take another class in it. Couple that with the fact that the local University doesn't have much in biology I haven't taken before, and that is at night so I don't have to get a babysitter.

So I totally understand your feelings of wanting to go the path of least resistance. When you are young and resilient and childless, it's easier to go to the nth degree for what you want. But even being a student mother means you have to find time around your children to be able to attend classes and study, as I've found out when I took a class 3 sem ago. I was constantly telling them I need to study. I even got angry a few times at them.

I don't know. Sometimes I think maybe I should just try to put a resume out there and see if there is any entry level night jobs for a slightly used biologist.
I totally would even mind grunt lab work, just to see if I still have the skill and desire anymore.

Well, I could go on, but I tend to get really long-winded, so I best cut this short. Some short people around here need me to make pancakes.

Looking forward to your reply VMommy, and to others.
post #8 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by kmcmommyto3 View Post




However, I also feel and have felt a restlessness in my spirit and doubts in my head about whether or not I did the right thing for me.


How do you feel about "opting out" even for the short term?
Are you glad that you did?



Do you feel overall screwed as a mom - screwed if you go to work and leave your kids in the care of another while you pursue your own ambitions, and screwed if you choose to stay at home, because you derailed your own career? (I can't possibly think I'm the only one who feels this way). And then doubly screwed because you know someone's going to have an opinion (and sometimes a nasty one) on the choices you made?

I need to have some opinions of other mothers who opted out. I am on a journey and I need some enlightenment.

.

Oh, momma. I have soooo been there. At the time I became pregnant with my first I was in a very highly respected position with a large company. I was in Human Resources. I LOVED my job, got paid VERY well for what I did and had alot of respect within my company. Yes, I was a professional. And, I opted out.

But, the longer I was pregnant I start to really, really notice those co-workers who were moms. I noticed how little time they had with their kids. They always complained about how much they hated putting their kids in daycare and how much they wished they could stay home. I listened to them complain about missing school field trips, plays and feeling guilty for taking sick days when their kids had to miss school. The more I listened the more I realized that I did not want that for me or my child.

I chose to quit my career one month before my son was born. I handed in my notice and never looked back. I was fortunate that we could live off of one income. Then a year and a half later we moved from Texas back to Canada. We had another child and starting up a new office, my husband had fewer business and I needed to work. I just couldn't leave my kids in daycare so I opened up a home daycare myself.

So, to answer your questions......

I think that we all have to do what makes us feel best about our choices in life. It sounds like you are having a hard time defining what is right for you and what is right for your kids.

It is hard to give up yourself and your ambitions for your children. But in the end you are doing a very noble and brave thing. Your children are young and take you for granted. One day it will be different. They will look back and know their mother did what was best for THEM at the cost of her own ambitions. And, in a way you ARE doing what is best for you too. You obviously put alot of importance on being their for your kids. In many ways you are also meeting some of your own expectations for yourself.

There are days too when I think that I am just withering away inside. I feel my job isn't "important" and I am not really impacting the world. Then, I go to the school and pick up my own children and I KNOW, right there in that moment, when they run to me with smiles, that THIS, THIS very moment is the reason I have been chosen to make the decisions I have.

It is easy to get down and question ourselves in those wee moments of reflection. There are no perfect answers in this world. But, when you get those special times (like I explained about picking up my kids from school) when you have your "AH-HAH" moments hold on to them and capture them in your mind. When you are down and questioning yourself, close your eyes, breathe, and bring back those pictures in your mind. Those are the moments that keep you focused and remind you why you chose to stay home.

I am not dogging anyone for putting their child in daycare. Like I said, we all have to decide what is best for us and our families. BUT, being a daycare provider I will honestly, tell you this......the kids in my care genuinely miss their parents. Sure, they are loved and cuddled and taken care of here. But, at the end of the day I am not their parent. I am just a substitute and nothing beats the real thing. I don't want my kids to feel that way. I want them to know I was there. I have a choice. Just like you have a choice to stay at home. Not all parents have that choice. Embrace the good fortune you have to spend this time with your kids. There are many parents and kids who simply do not have the option.

Hugs and good luck to you on this journey. I hope you find peace.
post #9 of 94
I think that's old feminism. I quit my job as a lawyer and I am thrilled. I want my daughters to have the choice to stay home with their children, too.

I do not feel I have lowered my potential. I think I am expressing my womanhood by making my own choices.

Don't worry about what anyone else thinks, listen to your heart.
post #10 of 94
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Treasuremapper View Post
I think that's old feminism. I quit my job as a lawyer and I am thrilled. I want my daughters to have the choice to stay home with their children, too.

I do not feel I have lowered my potential. I think I am expressing my womanhood by making my own choices.

Don't worry about what anyone else thinks, listen to your heart.
Ha, that's my problem, my heart doesn't know what it wants. And I can totally understand why you left your job as a lawyer. I was in forensics for 5 years and have been in court testifying about 25 times (and most of those times were AFTER I quit forensics). I saw all the paperwork and behind the scenes preparation that has to be done for a trial and it's an insane amount of work and stress.

Actually, I think one of the most selfish and pathetic things about myself is that I felt I had such an interesting career path, had stimulating conversations with people about things I was interested in, worked in the city like I always wanted to, even ended up at the University I previously turned down when I applied as an undergrad (I actually got accepted, then didn't go because my mother wouldn't let me live on campus while I pursued my education, I would have had to commute and study from home - and my mom was always fighting with my step-dad - wasn't going to happen). The city architecture and history was great, and now...there's nothing different or exciting about me.

I'm stuck in suburbia and the moms I do meet really do not ask me about what I used to do, and usually the conversation ends up being about children or shopping. Totally NOT stimulating at all. And I feel like I have this whole interesting past that no one knows about or would even care. And on top of that, I also have nothing interesting or challenging to look forward too.

However, my almost 6 yo right now actually is at the point where she is somewhat interested in what I was before I was a mom, so maybe I will be able to get to the point where I can share all the cool things I did to someone who will appreciate it and may even be inspired by me. Last night we had a conversation at bedtime about it, and it's funny because she got a few science kits for Christmas, so she asked if I made crystals and goo in my job. I laughed and said, "no, not quite". Although, to be honest, the crystal making portion of the kit uses a polymer called polyacrylamide, and I did use that for making electrophoresis gels for separation of DNA fragments. But at 9 pm at night, I wasn't going in to all that much detail.

I don't know. Maybe there is a place for me at home teaching my kids about science. I can't homeschool (I don't have it in me to teach them ALL subjects), but I could totally dig teaching science to them. I've already started collecting some books - books on the trees in our state, the birds in our state, a Smithsonian book on rocks and gemstones. We go for walks around the neighborhood, and my kids are always asking me what kind of trees and such we see. At the very least, I can plant some seeds of interest in the natural world and the sciences with them.

I know my dds are bright, not profoundly gifted, but definitely showing signs of moderate giftedness. I should really work on encouraging them more than I am (but have been stuck in my own inner turmoil).

Well, I do want to thank everyone for participating in this thread. I always found bouncing thoughts off others to be beneficial. I hope it gives me clues to what direction I really do want to take.
post #11 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by kmcmommyto3 View Post
I don't know. Sometimes I think maybe I should just try to put a resume out there and see if there is any entry level night jobs for a slightly used biologist.
I totally would even mind grunt lab work, just to see if I still have the skill and desire anymore..
I've been through a lot of what you wrote about in the past few years. I don't have time to write now, but I will later.
post #12 of 94
:
subbing for when i have more than 2 fingers to type with
post #13 of 94
Subbing for the future...
post #14 of 94
Yep. I was a theatre director and professional actress/singer. I was also going to one of the best universities in the world when I had dd.

I feel you on all accounts.

I just keep thinking, when it feels more wrong to be at home than to be at work that is the time I will change the plan.

It's as simple as that.

In the meanwhile, we are saving money, but I DO feel a need to keep my mind sharp. I'm doing a LOT of learning (for free) by signing up for yahoo groups and other lists and free classes online. I don't get ANYthing for them except knowledge.

I also would rather spend that $700 on a bunch of books. I could have bought 32 books WITH postage for 1/7th of that amount at thriftbooks or whatever its called.

I can study theatre, read plays, study medicine, like I've always wanted....all on my own after the kids go to bed. Keeps me sharp, keeps my worth UP...and keeps me satiated until the kids get a bit bigger.

I'm NOT like my "being a mom is my WORLD" friends and I don't relate to the working girls at all anymore.

hugs to you mama. I feel you.
post #15 of 94
I believe the success of the Western feminist movement is that we now have the choice to make such a decision, and should feel empowered either way. Also, just the simple fact that so many countries now institutionalize such decisions, is indicative of it's value. In Sweden or Noway (I think the latter, but I'm not entirely certain), parental leave is two years. Here in Canada it's one year.

Life is long and choosing to veto the professional career temporarily (or even permanently) to focus on raising children is something that should be valued and a choice to feel good about. There's still lots of time to work on the career.
post #16 of 94
i've been thinking about this a lot lately, as i'm contemplating all the requirements (and cost $$$) in keeping my law license active while i'm home, with zero desire/plans to go back to work in the near future.

How do you feel about "opting out" even for the short term?
i don't know if i "opted out" so much as ran away screaming i *hated* what i was doing and was happy to resign and give up the partner track/60 to 80 hour weeks/old boys club mentality to stay home. but now that i've been home for over 2 years and have another little one, i'm noticing that i'd like to have *parts* of the "old" career life back -- especially the attention span i know that eventually i'll have to go back to work in some capacity (i'm not cut out to homeschool) and i'm dreading/kind of scared of it.
i know i don't want to go back to what i was doing -- i don't want to join a firm and have to try to compete against recent grads who dont have families. i dont know if i'm a "traitor to the cause" so to speak (and as one of my law school colleagues said ) for not trying to do both. maybe if i had liked my most recent job i would have tried harder to balance a career and work instead of going all-or-nothing :
so (clearly) i'm torn. i feel like i *should* go back, especially since law school was SO expensive and SO much work -- i feel like i shouldn't "waste" that. but i love being home with my girls and i'd like to be available to do things like lead girl scouts or coach soccer in the future

Are you glad that you did?
see the novel above

Do you feel longings to go back yet kinda depressed that you derailed your own career?
yes! i think this is the crux of it.

Do you feel out of place with the "all I ever wanted to be was a stay at home mom" women, yet out of place with the working moms too?
yep.


Do you feel overall screwed as a mom - screwed if you go to work and leave your kids in the care of another while you pursue your own ambitions, and screwed if you choose to stay at home, because you derailed your own career? (I can't possibly think I'm the only one who feels this way). And then doubly screwed because you know someone's going to have an opinion (and sometimes a nasty one) on the choices you made?
yep. my mom and stepdad have told me repeatedly how "disappointed" they are that i'm "just" a SAHM and am "wasting" my education and that seems to be the most common reaction among others (like the other moms at dd1's preschool) -- like i'm not living up to potential or am doing something so 'exotic' as staying at home. and then there's the person who commented that i must not have been a very good lawyer if i was so willing so stay at home :

Has anyone else feel remotely this way before? What have you done/are you doing about it?
i'm looking at different ways to use my legal education in the future -- i'd like to do something part time in a few years (namely when i dont have a baby on the boob 24/7) to keep my mind active. so i'm keeping my credentials active and trying to look for opportunities to write or teach or things like that.
post #17 of 94
I haven't read any of the replies yet, but plan to go back after I post my response.

I worked up until ds was 1.5 years old, and then decided I could no longer be supermom. I had an MBA, and was very successful - financially and professionally. Most everyone was shocked that I decided to stay at home with ds.

I recently went back to work after almost 5 years of being out of the work force. It was "time" for me to go back.

I loved, liked and hated staying at home, just like I love, like and hate my career What I have realized is that there may come another time when I feel the need to be at home with the kids again. If that time comes, I will honor it whether it's for a short time, or indefinitely. I no longer feel the need to have to make commitments that don't serve me or my family well. I can adapt, so can my family and my employer.

I will say this, while I was at home, I did find a good network of SAHM's that all were former professionals, but decided to stay home with their dc's. That helped a lot. We had book clubs and engaged in intellectual conversations to keep the brain juices flowing. We also discussed potty training and breastfeeding.....which is something I find hard to do with a colleague. These friends were my saving grace, because I found being a SAHM rather challenging at times, and it would have been even more difficult to do it without friends who could relate to the "whole" me.
post #18 of 94
Thread Starter 
LauraLoo - boy you are lucky to have had the awesome network of SAHMs that you did. I have had one friend who was a professional who came to be home as a SAHM, yet she didn't have the same kind of intellectual pursuits as I enjoyed and needed to thrive. She worked her way up in a bank and made good money while she did work, but still, her interests while at home were limited.

I would have loved to be surrounded by moms like us. That would have been invaluable to me. Although I must say, I am coming close to having at least more meaningful conversations with my neighbor who has very similar values and struggles as I do (except in her case, she is at least able to do part time bookkeeping work). In fact, she is my saving grace lately.

And it's not for lack of trying. I've been involved in some moms groups, but still have had a hard time finding moms on a similar path as me.

Sophie - as I mentioned, I KNOW the amount of work that goes into compiling a case, just one case, and I'm sure you've had more than one case going at any given time. I have spent a lot of time sitting in the state's attorney's office and seen the huge files of papers. I have known only one woman who totally thrived as a lawyer (but don't get me wrong, I didn't know a lot of them), but I'm about 99% sure she was childless. I could tell the passion she had for law and the intensity she had for what she was doing for society, but I know the hours she spent not only at work, but after hours preparing for cases. In my eyes, you are brave! Don't let anyone make you regret your decision. You made one that made sense for your family. I'm sure it's not a decision you made lightly.

AFA familial guilt, both my mother and my grandfather had emailed me shortly after I gave my notice of how they thought I was making the biggest mistake of my life. And even my boss, a woman and mother, was worried about me regretting the decision. As far as that went, I had absolutely no qualms about because I wasn't going in the direction I wanted to anyway.

It's not that I feel as much guilt for leaving the job to be with them as much as it is a feeling of figuring out what will be next for me. It's like being in high school again trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up, except now I don't have as many options and a lot more factors restricting the choices.

The funny thing is, I don't know why I worry so much. I often look to my older sister, who, after staying at home for 10 years to be with her children, went through a divorce, then ended up taking 2 years to study to be a certified occupational therapy assistant at a local community college, she is now making $60,000. She only had an associates degree before she got this 2 year degree, and ended up making more than I did. I mean, heck, if there is hope for her, there certainly has to be hope for me, you know?

Anyway, thank you all for your honesty. I know it's a bit scary to actually admit some of the torn feelings we have, but I know it definitely makes them less frightening when you examine them head on instead of avoiding them out of guilt or shame. There really is no reason to feel shame for changing our life direction, but certainly (U.S.) society has not helped mothers in the slightest bit to help manage the load. Meaning, not long enough maternity leave, not more part time professional opportunities or job-sharing.

For me, it's helping me a lot. I do appreciate so much the perspectives that are so similar to my own.

The gears are spinning and I'm coming closer to some answers for myself. I know this is one thread I'm going to be printing up and keeping for future reference when I'm going through one of those moments of doubt.

I also hope you all feel less alone as you work through some of your own obstacles and come out with a stronger sense of why you have chosen the path you have. I know it sure helps me.

post #19 of 94
I think I fit in here.

I have an MA and was formerly the Director of a Career Development Center a 4-year college.

I left the field knowing full well it probably shut the door on my career. I left because my then 10 year old son had been diagnosed with OCD and his therapist believed that the stress of me working 60+ hours probably exacerbated his symptoms. It was a very easy choice at the time, but one I still struggle with now.


How do you feel about "opting out" even for the short term?
At first it was really easy to opt out. I knew my son needed me and *nothing* is more important than the well-being of my children. I'm not a martyr, just feel incredibly responsible and connected. That doesn't mean I'm never conflicted, in fact I'm going through a mini-crisis with this pregnancy.


Are you glad that you did?
I am glad that I did - on so many levels. It's allowed me to homeschool my son when the public system failed him miserably. It's allowed me to have additional children and not have to struggle with my decision to stay home with them. I'm so pleased that my son is able to have time to build a relationship with his younger sister. I know that the 13 year age gap will limit the closeness of their relationship and him having these years to live with her full-time instead of going off to school is priceless.


Do you feel longings to go back yet kinda depressed that you derailed your own career (in my case, there was truly no part time option because I was so specialized there was nothing that wasn't an hour away from home, and certainly nothing part time).
Not every day - but yes. My career was such a large part of my identity I do sometimes feel lost without it.

Do you feel out of place with the "all I ever wanted to be was a stay at home mom" women, yet out of place with the working moms too?
This is my biggest dilemma currently. I'm 40 years old and far removed from the lives of the other moms of young children I know. We just had a holiday party and for the first time in 6 years I felt like I had nothing to talk about with my husband's colleagues (he's still in academia). All I want to talk about is the upcoming birth and how excited we are about homeschooling - not exactly hot topics among the faculty here.


Do you feel overall screwed as a mom - screwed if you go to work and leave your kids in the care of another while you pursue your own ambitions, and screwed if you choose to stay at home, because you derailed your own career? (I can't possibly think I'm the only one who feels this way). And then doubly screwed because you know someone's going to have an opinion (and sometimes a nasty one) on the choices you made?
I'm not quite sure what you mean by this one?

Has anyone else feel remotely this way before? What have you done/are you doing about it?
I started with therapy. Honestly, it was to the point where I needed a neutral professional opinion to ground me. I finally realized with the therapist's assistance that I need to look to myself for satisfaction. I had been letting others define me and especially allowing my career to define me. I've been more assertive in demanding "me" time and engaging in creative pursuits. While balancing the needs of my kids I'm also fulfilling my needs as circumstances allow.
post #20 of 94
Thread Starter 
[QUOTE=KariM;10239070]I think I fit in here.

Do you feel overall screwed as a mom - screwed if you go to work and leave your kids in the care of another while you pursue your own ambitions, and screwed if you choose to stay at home, because you derailed your own career? (I can't possibly think I'm the only one who feels this way). And then doubly screwed because you know someone's going to have an opinion (and sometimes a nasty one) on the choices you made?
I'm not quite sure what you mean by this one?

[QUOTE]

By this I mean there are no easy solutions for being a mom - in the US, you are almost punished for being a mom - you can't easily have both a career and family. If you are very lucky, you get 12 weeks off of maternity leave, though 6 weeks is more common. There is some amount of internal guilt whether you leave your children in another's care, or whether you interrupt your career to care for your children and home (and that's without even listening to other people's opinions on your choices). And even though you may in your heart feel you are doing the very best for your family (either by working or staying at home), you somehow find yourself doubting your decisions. Either someone actually questions you, or you find yourself reading some of the debate about the dilemma to work or to stay at home when you have children.

And returning to the workforce certainly isn't easy. I'll be 40 by the time my youngest is in K, so that would make me have age as a bit of a disadvantage and not as competitive as a young student fresh out of college.

Did you get a chance to read that article I linked to about what Laura Hirshman? How she said women who elect to opt out keep deluding themselves about the benefits of staying home when in actuality we are doing society more harm than good because businesses will think women are unreliable and therefore we will never be able to keep forward progress and effect social reform by reverting to 1950s model of life.

She's very insulting to women who make the choice to give up our careers, basically saying that we are being stupid and foolish for doing so and are going to cause social progress to be stunted.

And okay, granted, she is just one voice on the fringe (maybe). But even my human development textbook (I took that class 3 sem ago) said that "studies have shown" families actually benefit more when the mother works. That the children have higher self-esteem or some other line like that. Don't quote me on this because I'm trying to remember from 3 sem ago, but that was the gist of it.

The messages are clear that there isn't enough support for motherhood as a whole, but in particular, for college educated mothers that had careers and chose to stay home with their children. Needless to say, no one (in the US), seems to take the job of stay at home mothers as having value. As for me personally, I don't usually have outright criticism or have to defend my reasons except occasionally. My neighbor's mother questioned me heavily about my reasons for giving up my career and could hardly believe I was wasting my education. And it's not like I could walk away from the conversation because it was a game night I was invited to. So I had to answer her questions calmly as I could muster. If I became defensive, then it would seem as if I wasn't convicted enough to do what I had done. But yeah, I felt I was in the hot seat that night.

To me, it's a damned if you do (go to work) or damned if you don't after having children. Someone is always going to come along and have an opinion. If your children are less than angelic, they will blame the fact you stuck them in daycare from 6 weeks of age. If your children are socially shy (like mine), it's because I haven't separated from them enough and it's my fault for staying at home and being involved too much with my kids (my own mother's opinion).

And there are those that truly believe there children are better off in a daycare situation. That the daycare provides more enrichment than the mothers ever could. That one totally blows my mind.

Okay, I could go on and on about different examples. I don't know if I'm making any sense at all or if I'm just confusing it even more. I'm just laying out some of my thoughts about this that made me say what I said.

Hey, and I totally commend you for homeschooling your son. I agree that the current educational system is so fundamentally flawed that they aren't preparing our children enough for adult life. I'd homeschool too, if I was more convicted about my ability to do a better job all throughout the years. Right now, I only have 1 dd in public K, and so far, she is excelling and it's in part due to a really exceptional teacher and because I know there's a fantastic relationship between her teacher and her. But if it ever starts failing her or my other children when the time comes, I'm seriously considering it myself. I'm actually looking into what it's all about in anticipation of the possibility.

At any rate, please don't think I have this in any shape or form figured out to make any kind of sense. These are just some things I've thought about, I don't know if I've laid them out in any logical sense, and that's why it's hard for me to stand fast in my conviction all the time when there are these extraneous thoughts to sort out.

Anyway, I apologize for being so long winded. Hope this helps clarify my statement.
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