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Are you a professional mom who opted out? - Page 3

post #41 of 94
Hi, I just found this thread and read though it all. Much of it is familiar but I've had certain experiences that helped me with my decision to forgo a fulltime professional career.

I'm lucky in that I haven't opted out entirely. I have managed to construct my life so that the job system works for me and not the other way around. I work several different parttime jobs so I can still spend most of my time at home with my DD. I like the variety of what I do and some of the jobs are really fun.

Many years ago I agreed with a lot of what Linda Hirshman says. I was totally prepared to jump fulltime into an academic career. Then someone I loved dropped dead in front of me (literally) at the young age of 41. He had been putting in long hours at his high-stress job and he thought that no one else could do what he did. Then he died and you know what? His company carried on; his death was barely a blip on their radar. That whole incident profoundly altered my thinking. I came to the conclusion that I never wanted my job to be my life.

There are still many things that make me angry about his death. For many years I was furious with him for dying and for believing he was indispensable although the passage of time has helped with those feelings. However, I am still furious at the American job system for basically chewing him up and spitting him out. I do not want to be part of that job system -- the job system that Linda Hirshman thinks we should all participate in.

I always thought the women's movement was about changing the system but Linda Hirshman wants us to be right in the belly of the beast. I refuse to do that and I think that many of us professional women recognize that the beast does not work for everyone. In fact, IMHO, the beast is not good for most people.

Slightly off-topic but still pertinent, I think one the most significant ways to change the beast is to separate health care from employment. Then people wouldn't feel so tied to the beast. However, that is another thread.

I've heard this a lot: when you get on your death bed, do you think you will regret not spending more time at your job or not spending more time with your family? I learned a shocking lesson from my loved one's death: no matter what you think, jobs continue with or without you. You can be replaced. But what happens to your family without you? Can you be so easily replaced? Absolutely not.

Despite my loss, I am now extremely happily married with a wonderful toddler. I came out of the darkness and have found my light.

Take your time and figure out a way to make the job system work for you. It can be done if you reframe your thinking -- you'll find out you have more options than you realized.
post #42 of 94
Thread Starter 
Verde - Thank you so much for sharing your story, and I'm so sorry that you had to experience that kind of loss in order to learn such an important lesson.

I had read Tuesdays With Morrie a long time ago, way before I had kids, and it really struck a chord with me. My family had a big tendency (and still does) to have very different priorities in life - more things before people, rather than people before things.

I did get my copy of the Paradox of Natural Mothering, and I'm eager to read it. I've had to put reading it on hold because we had a party for dd1's b-day and also because I had gotten a pretty flaming email from my younger sister about how messed up I am and in need of help. I made the mistake of being honest about how I felt about mothering and the mixed feelings I have had about leaving work to care for them full-time. And she made some other observations and criticized my entire existence - my home which gets messy too often, to what I wear and my lack of hair style, and my children acting shy around my family (oddly enough, they aren't shy around dh's family at all, because they are AP minded).

While on the one hand she was claiming to be genuinely concerned, while blasting me for my choices (such as saying my extended bf was enabling my almost 3 year old - nevermind that I don't think weaning is a good thing to do when she'd been very sick 3 times in the span of a month and a half - with vomiting/diarrhea the first time, conjunctivitis the second time, and a 3-day 103+ fever the third time).

Anyway, I'm convinced when someone claims there is only 1 option that is "right", it really chafes my hide. She claims she has the support of friends and family, but I really wonder about that. I'd love to really know what they think of her, or if they are just supportive because of their relationship they have with her.

I'm not saying that it's not possible for women to combine parenting and work quite successfully, but it really takes a great expenditure of energy to be everything to everyone. I know the personality of my mother for instance, is one that placed more value on work outside the home than fostering strong, healthy bonds with her children. She was quite emotionally manipulative and honestly emotionally abusive too. In her mind, she was successful combining both, but in mine, it was by the grace of a higher power that her children did not end up in long term therapy, or with self-destructive behaviors (engaging in risky behaviors such as drugs, alcohol, or sexual promiscuity) .

The parent-child relationship is extremely important. Society doesn't believe that it is, and quite honestly the information you get is very contradictory. Some sources quite explicitly say that the early years are critical times for the child to be with a parent (most often the mother as they are more nurturing), yet other sources claim that quality substitute care (even in an institutional setting such as a daycare) is more than adequate, even beneficial in some cases (such as lower income families where adequate stimulation and care may be substandard).

And beware if you buck the system! To have an original thought or alternative view of the way things should be - for shame! Gah! How many times over are you attacked for thinking outside the box! That happens so much in my own family of origin, let alone mainstream culture. My biggest enemy isn't even the culture around me, but within the "safety" of my extended family. It's wicked and wrong, but many people are duped into thinking what's right for most is right for all.

I can walk away from arguments/opposition from friends and acquaintances, I can choose not to read rubbish from the "scholars" like LH. But I can't get very far from family opinion. Since there are 5 siblings and 9 children on my side of the family, we are always having family functions - for birthdays, holidays and religious rites of passage - it's getting harder to avoid the topics everyone so loves to comment on. I'm thisclose to opting out of my family for good.

Anyway, sorry for the rant. I was absolutely fuming earlier this week, and I don't need to get myself riled up again.

Anyway, even when I feel the doubts creep in, I do realize I have a very strong belief system in place that I return to that despite what anyone else says - I know I'm doing the right thing. If in a few years I have regrets for myself, I can deal with that (and who knows, my worries may not come to pass), I know my children will have a very stable self-image because I've fostered it in them by not splitting my time between two masters. I know, as I've always known, that this is the time for them. In time, I will find something for me.

My own self-image growing up was splintered, and even if I hadn't actively thought about it, I won't allow that to happen to my children. I'm parenting them as I would have loved to have been parented. And I couldn't do that by being gone for 11 hours a day. Just not possible.

At any rate, as you can tell, I can go on and on and on about this. It is a subject matter very important to me. It's been impressed upon my heart that this is the place I need to be for an indefinite amount of time. I feel better now than when I started this thread a couple of weeks ago.

- this is for all of us to have peace and clarity in our hearts and minds and the conviction to stand by our choices.
post #43 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by kmcmommyto3 View Post

I can walk away from arguments/opposition from friends and acquaintances, I can choose not to read rubbish from the "scholars" like LH. But I can't get very far from family opinion. Since there are 5 siblings and 9 children on my side of the family, we are always having family functions - for birthdays, holidays and religious rites of passage - it's getting harder to avoid the topics everyone so loves to comment on. I'm thisclose to opting out of my family for good.
I found the book The Dance of Anger or The Dance of Intimacy to be helpful to forming "bottom lines" for myself regarding family, and recognizing my part of the dance. They are both very empowering.



Quote:

- this is for all of us to have peace and clarity in our hearts and minds and the conviction to stand by our choices.
Or to change our minds.

Choices. We all make choices. I believe that is what "feminism" is about.


Pat
post #44 of 94
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by WuWei View Post
I found the book The Dance of Anger or The Dance of Intimacy to be helpful to forming "bottom lines" for myself regarding family, and recognizing my part of the dance. They are both very empowering.



Or to change our minds.

Choices. We all make choices. I believe that is what "feminism" is about.


Pat
Yes to having the freedom to change our minds too. Of course, that is our right too.

I forgot about the book, the Dance of Anger. I read parts of it years ago, before kids, when dealing with some family issues.

Why is it so hard for some to "live and let live" with regards to family? I guess I need to read those books to answer that question. I'm definitely a live and let live person....whereas the strongest voices in my family are not.
post #45 of 94
Well . . . it's comforting to know that I'm not alone.

I opted out of my career before I even really got it going. I taught for about 2 mos. and after developing hives was forced to quit. Granted, it was an "inner city" school, I was the new kid on the block and all--but I *sincerely* thought that teaching was the one profession which could and would seamlessly mesh professional and family life. I often wonder if it would have been easier had I started teaching before I had children or if it would have been easier had I accepted the position teaching first grade instead of the one teaching 6th grade math (actually, 6th and 7th grade math--a surprise on the first day of school especially since I'm certified for grades 1 through 6). Teaching was difficult. It was hard to get a handle on classroom management, primarily which stressed me out to no end especially with the 7th grade class which was an inclusion class (special needs as well as general education). There was little to no support and the support that there was, due to politics, was largely unavailable to me. Would I have done better had I been able to secure a job in the suburbs? Did I give up because it was too hard to balance family life and the job? Could I have tried a little harder? I would come home most days, grade papers or piece together lesson plans while trying to attend to my one year old and give him love and attention. Around 8 PM, I'd pass out every night and then wake up around 2 AM, still in my work clothes, frazzled, confused and often with a pounding headache. The weekends were largely the same . . . everyone said it was the plight of the first year teacher and it would get better as the years went on. But add to the sheer volume of work, the stress of being in the classroom and the school politics the fact that everyday I watched as the public school system failed children (I am haunted by the student I would have to yell at to get him to listen only to find out that he had major hearing loss and the one specialist for the district had him down as like number 20 on her list). I felt like a complete load of cow dung when I realized that if I didn't want to be audited, I had *better* not fail more than 5% of my class--and I passed a lot of kids who could barely barely multiply. Shameful. I felt complicit in the whole thing and worse because I knew my child would never attend public school. It was also exceedingly difficult to live a natural lifestyle while working full time. I often wanted to come home and order take out for dinner. But as a strict vegetarian family, that wasn't an option. Washing and folding cloth diapers was an extra that I would have loved to chuck. I was often too tired and frustrated to practice gentle discipline. Pumping in the mornings and evening to keep up the nursing relationship was sometimes too extra--I would gladly have slept the extra 30 mins. The principal of the school happened to be a very driven career woman and her disapproval of my decisions really hurt me and made me feel so sub-par.

I often feel like such a failure for not even establishing a career to go back to if I need to. I'm not in a position to support myself financially--theoretically I am, but that is yet to be seen in practice. I feel like getting my M.S. Ed. was a complete waste and I don't know if I'm willing to do the work to keep my certificate current. I'm not even sure I will ever go back to teaching and wonder should I focus my attention on establishing my own business.

And hell yes, teaching junior high is a difficult and trying job--especially if your students are low-income with various family, personal and health issues and if there is no support. I love the age group because they are coming into their own but for a first year teacher, it was all too much to handle--the attitudes, the emotions, etc . . . I had too much of my own issues (struggling with lesson plans and the lesson material, dealing with stupidity such as changing bulletin boards every week to display student work and dealing with inanity such as having to write down comments and grades on stick it notes as opposed to the test paper itself) to effectively handle theirs. Add to that that the average class size was 26 students and I was teaching 3 classes . . . so many variable make me really wonder. I feel like I was sabotaged.

All that being said, I am so happy to have the opportunity to stay home with my children. Still, I struggled with the idea of "throwing my education away" and not bringing in income. I never really knew how much of one's self worth can be pinned on whether or not one makes money and how much money. That is, if one lets it.
post #46 of 94
How do you feel about "opting out" even for the short term?
I feel it was the right decision.


Are you glad that you did?
No. In a dream situation, I would have preferred part-time/flexible option with perfect childcare, even if I made no money (after childcare etc).

Do you feel longings to go back
Yes. Working on it.

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).

Exactly. It caused an identity crisis in a way. It caused resentment to my DH cause he didn’t have too even though he didn’t get to stay at home with his kids either.

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.

Ditto. Never wanted to be a SAHM. I never liked the overtime working Mom, 2 jobs model either.

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 felt this way for many years.
Hopefully I will get this job tomorrow (have to pass a physical) and my DH will be staying home and taking his turn to enjoy his children while I enjoy working/starting a career.
post #47 of 94
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rootzdawta View Post
Well . . . it's comforting to know that I'm not alone.

I opted out of my career before I even really got it going. I taught for about 2 mos. and after developing hives was forced to quit. Granted, it was an "inner city" school, I was the new kid on the block and all--but I *sincerely* thought that teaching was the one profession which could and would seamlessly mesh professional and family life. I often wonder if it would have been easier had I started teaching before I had children or if it would have been easier had I accepted the position teaching first grade instead of the one teaching 6th grade math (actually, 6th and 7th grade math--a surprise on the first day of school especially since I'm certified for grades 1 through 6). Teaching was difficult. It was hard to get a handle on classroom management, primarily which stressed me out to no end especially with the 7th grade class which was an inclusion class (special needs as well as general education). There was little to no support and the support that there was, due to politics, was largely unavailable to me. Would I have done better had I been able to secure a job in the suburbs? Did I give up because it was too hard to balance family life and the job? Could I have tried a little harder? I would come home most days, grade papers or piece together lesson plans while trying to attend to my one year old and give him love and attention. Around 8 PM, I'd pass out every night and then wake up around 2 AM, still in my work clothes, frazzled, confused and often with a pounding headache. The weekends were largely the same . . . everyone said it was the plight of the first year teacher and it would get better as the years went on. But add to the sheer volume of work, the stress of being in the classroom and the school politics the fact that everyday I watched as the public school system failed children (I am haunted by the student I would have to yell at to get him to listen only to find out that he had major hearing loss and the one specialist for the district had him down as like number 20 on her list). I felt like a complete load of cow dung when I realized that if I didn't want to be audited, I had *better* not fail more than 5% of my class--and I passed a lot of kids who could barely barely multiply. Shameful. I felt complicit in the whole thing and worse because I knew my child would never attend public school. It was also exceedingly difficult to live a natural lifestyle while working full time. I often wanted to come home and order take out for dinner. But as a strict vegetarian family, that wasn't an option. Washing and folding cloth diapers was an extra that I would have loved to chuck. I was often too tired and frustrated to practice gentle discipline. Pumping in the mornings and evening to keep up the nursing relationship was sometimes too extra--I would gladly have slept the extra 30 mins. The principal of the school happened to be a very driven career woman and her disapproval of my decisions really hurt me and made me feel so sub-par.

I often feel like such a failure for not even establishing a career to go back to if I need to. I'm not in a position to support myself financially--theoretically I am, but that is yet to be seen in practice. I feel like getting my M.S. Ed. was a complete waste and I don't know if I'm willing to do the work to keep my certificate current. I'm not even sure I will ever go back to teaching and wonder should I focus my attention on establishing my own business.

And hell yes, teaching junior high is a difficult and trying job--especially if your students are low-income with various family, personal and health issues and if there is no support. I love the age group because they are coming into their own but for a first year teacher, it was all too much to handle--the attitudes, the emotions, etc . . . I had too much of my own issues (struggling with lesson plans and the lesson material, dealing with stupidity such as changing bulletin boards every week to display student work and dealing with inanity such as having to write down comments and grades on stick it notes as opposed to the test paper itself) to effectively handle theirs. Add to that that the average class size was 26 students and I was teaching 3 classes . . . so many variable make me really wonder. I feel like I was sabotaged.

All that being said, I am so happy to have the opportunity to stay home with my children. Still, I struggled with the idea of "throwing my education away" and not bringing in income. I never really knew how much of one's self worth can be pinned on whether or not one makes money and how much money. That is, if one lets it.
Please don't beat yourself up too badly. My sister teaches in a lower income suburb (with minority children and many with broken homes, maybe not quite as bad as inner city but far from ideal too), but with a lot of the same issues you faced. Apathy is rampant on the part of the children and parents. Disrespect was also a huge issue to because my sister wasn't the same race as her students, so they didn't feel they had to respect her (one female student said her mama said she didn't have to listen to her).

Classroom management is a monumental task in her class. She also has had really terrible years where the stress placed upon her was intense. And she did end up getting her master's degree while teaching and I really believe she burned out her thyroid because of it (she had also been having anxiety attacks too during that time). It did not surprise me one bit that you suffered from hives so soon after starting your teaching job in the area you did.

I just have this gut instinct that teaching while in it's most ideal state (kids that want to learn, parents as partners in the education of their children, support from the administration) is a very noble calling, the reality of it is so far from the idealistic view I have of teaching that it's no longer the noble profession it once was.

I don't believe that it's a situation where you failed yourself. It was a situation that set up you for failure. Had you been in a different demagraphic area or a younger grade (where the children are still somewhat "innocent"), you would have had a very different experience.

I have 3 people close to me that are teachers and they all express the same stresses to varying degrees. Lots of work (both inside and outside class), classroom management and NCLB at the top of the list of stressors, lack of support from administrators, and little respect for the amount of crap they have to do and put up with. The public school system is very, very flawed. Even seasoned teachers will tell you that.

Heck, I love the idea of teaching, I'd be good at the actual teaching part, but overall, I don't think I have it in me to willingly subject myself to all the crap that goes with it.

I was told on another message board I'd be better off in some sort of alternative school arena - like a homeschooling co-op or some sort. I would suggest you look to see if there is something you can do in a non-conventional area like that in your area.

What about simply setting up a tutoring business or joining a formal tutoring place like Sylvan Learning centers or something like that? One of my teacher friends did that part time to supplement her teaching salary. She said though they only take licensed teachers nowadays.

Anyway - just throwing some ideas out there. I don't know if you've looked into them or not.

Big hugs mama. You sound so disappointed in yourself, but honestly, I don't think you should be.
post #48 of 94
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by FancyPants View Post
How do you feel about "opting out" even for the short term?
I feel it was the right decision.


Are you glad that you did?
No. In a dream situation, I would have preferred part-time/flexible option with perfect childcare, even if I made no money (after childcare etc).

Do you feel longings to go back
Yes. Working on it.

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).

Exactly. It caused an identity crisis in a way. It caused resentment to my DH cause he didn’t have too even though he didn’t get to stay at home with his kids either.

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.

Ditto. Never wanted to be a SAHM. I never liked the overtime working Mom, 2 jobs model either.

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 felt this way for many years.
Hopefully I will get this job tomorrow (have to pass a physical) and my DH will be staying home and taking his turn to enjoy his children while I enjoy working/starting a career.
Just curious about what career you will be going into and what career your dh will be leaving?

My dh got laid off when I was 6 mos pg with dd1 for a year, so he did the SAHD for a while. It gave him a lot of respect for the responsibility of a stay at home parent.

Good luck with your job opportunity. I hope it works out.
post #49 of 94
I opted out after the birth of my fourth son - I was an executive, had a company car, good salary, yadda yadda. I had switched to part time (or tried to) after my 3rd was born but it was impossible to do a good job at my work only part time and I was constantly feeling torn. I decided to give it up and stay home. It's been tough financially, I was making the bulk of our income, but do-able. I did not regret my decision at all for the first few years although recently I have started working again - at home and it's my own business - so a little different but I still feel conflicted at times. It was actually quite easy to get back into working again, maybe because I was only gone a few years.

My new work is very self-fulfilling, it's also rather altruistic so I do feel like it's important work that I will look back fondly on in my elder years. Still it's hard because it's a start up and I need to dedicate a lot of time to it and a lot of focus. There are times when I just want to be a mom. Yet I also don't want to give up on the work because it is important to me and to others.

So I guess I still struggle with these issues. I think it is important that a woman has something that is important to them beyond their children - whether this is work or not will obviously vary. For me it is work, for others it might be a hobby or whatever.
post #50 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by kmcmommyto3 View Post
Just curious about what career you will be going into and what career your dh will be leaving?

My dh got laid off when I was 6 mos pg with dd1 for a year, so he did the SAHD for a while. It gave him a lot of respect for the responsibility of a stay at home parent.

Good luck with your job opportunity. I hope it works out.
I would be going into Environmental Engineering. I have a degree in Mechanical Engineering and worked in Noise Control prior to moving to the USA . Before that I worked for a pump manufacturer (where I was blissfully happy - sigh).

This job would involve work for the city and I have to be in good enough shape. It would be at the place I interened. I loved interning there and REALLY like the people.

My husband was a UNIX Admin with a background/education in hardware. He was making 2.5x what I will start out at but he burnt out. Pretty much worked solid from 15yo up starting with his own business, so he was in the biz 20+years.
My hunch is that he will miss making money eventually but he is in a MUCH better spot to find at-home/consulting/part-time work. His skills are still high demand.
post #51 of 94
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by FancyPants View Post
I would be going into Environmental Engineering. I have a degree in Mechanical Engineering and worked in Noise Control prior to moving to the USA . Before that I worked for a pump manufacturer (where I was blissfully happy - sigh).

This job would involve work for the city and I have to be in good enough shape. It would be at the place I interened. I loved interning there and REALLY like the people.

My husband was a UNIX Admin with a background/education in hardware. He was making 2.5x what I will start out at but he burnt out. Pretty much worked solid from 15yo up starting with his own business, so he was in the biz 20+years.
My hunch is that he will miss making money eventually but he is in a MUCH better spot to find at-home/consulting/part-time work. His skills are still high demand.
Cool, my dh is a mechanical engineer and works with an environmental engineer at his job. Definitely your dh should be able to find a way to incorporate his skills from home. Sounds like an ideal set up for you guys.

Here's some good luck for you
post #52 of 94
Thank you KMC.

I passed the physical. It was quite demanding and I am sore today. That is really the only true hurdle so I should get the job.

I am hoping for exactly the same outcome of your DH where my DH will have a lot more understanding of SAH work. Even now he is doing much more work around the house. I'm hoping for my kids (both boys) to see this. Up til DH took a break at the end of May it had been me at home and doing all housework and him at work and doing pretty much none.

I have read encouraging studies of SAHD where the researchers found it really increased the father's bond with his kids and involvement in housework and that the WOHM tended to be/stay much more involved in the family than a typical WOHD.
post #53 of 94
nak, so short post now, longer one later. i guess i qualify as a professional mom who opted out. i was a practicing attorney when i had my first child, over 6 years ago. i was supposed to go back to work full time after my maternity leave was up (12 weeks), but i just couldn't do it. i have been home ever since and i cannot imagine it any other way. i do not regret going to law school though, not a bit. i have no idea if/when i will ever practice law again, though i do plan to join the work force in some way some time in the future, how's that for a vague "plan"? :
post #54 of 94
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrissy View Post
nak, so short post now, longer one later. i guess i qualify as a professional mom who opted out. i was a practicing attorney when i had my first child, over 6 years ago. i was supposed to go back to work full time after my maternity leave was up (12 weeks), but i just couldn't do it. i have been home ever since and i cannot imagine it any other way. i do not regret going to law school though, not a bit. i have no idea if/when i will ever practice law again, though i do plan to join the work force in some way some time in the future, how's that for a vague "plan"? :
Your plan sounds just like mine .

Looking forward to reading more about you. I know the courts from the view of a forensic expert sitting in the witness stand. I honestly believe the reason I couldn't conceive a child while working in forensics was the stress (and it was probably a good thing too as I was really depressed in that job often). As it turned out, I got pg within 3 months into my new job. Coincidence? I don't think so.

I can't even imagine combining motherhood and being a lawyer, so I get why you chose to not return to work.
post #55 of 94
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by FancyPants View Post
Thank you KMC.

I passed the physical. It was quite demanding and I am sore today. That is really the only true hurdle so I should get the job.

I am hoping for exactly the same outcome of your DH where my DH will have a lot more understanding of SAH work. Even now he is doing much more work around the house. I'm hoping for my kids (both boys) to see this. Up til DH took a break at the end of May it had been me at home and doing all housework and him at work and doing pretty much none.

I have read encouraging studies of SAHD where the researchers found it really increased the father's bond with his kids and involvement in housework and that the WOHM tended to be/stay much more involved in the family than a typical WOHD.
Yes, my dh is more involved in most aspects. See a need, fill a need, so to speak. He pitches in whereever there is a need. Of course, I do try to reward him by giving him the chance to go out with his friends occasionally, as he does me.

Your dh won't have any choice but understand all the intracies of the home thing. It ought to work out. Let me know how it goes with the job.
post #56 of 94
I haven't read the whole thread yet but just wanted to say that I am struggling with the same issue. At the moment, I do not feel satisfied at home. I feel like part of my identity is missing- kind of like I've lost myself. I worked really hard to get through college and my career is a part of me, so i guess it makes sense that I would feel this way........ BUT i know I would be miserable if I worked 40 plus hours a week. I look forward to reading all the posts. thanks for starting this thread.
post #57 of 94
I have not opted out yet, although I feel like doing so about 80% of the time. I am working on a PhD now and going back and forth about whether to follow the academic career path so neatly laid before me. It's tempting: prestige, great money, engaging work, good colleagues.

It has been interesting and useful to read many of the posts to this thread, particularly from those of you who opted out after extended education and before you had really gotten very far in the career you prepared for. The comment of one who said she feels like a failure for not getting her career off the ground after having gotten so much education and also feels like a failure for starting a family so late deeply resonates with me. I feel like I may end up never having done either motherhood or career very well, not as well as I could have.

I am so afraid that I will deeply regret not at least taking a stab at being a professor and a mom. There is a lot of social pressure from parents and mentors and friends who don't want to see me "waste" my potential. I really like my work, although I can also easily see myself doing other things that would probably be less stressful and more fulfilling. Yet, academia is what I've trained for and invested oh so much money in to boot. On the other hand, there is a part of me that knows that I would be very unhappy with that life and that my child (or children by that point) would be better off if I was available more than the academic life would allow. After all, I struggle now with the fact that DS is in daycare part-time. I'm not doing school as well as I could (my own worst critic) because I really need to be devoting much more time to that, yet I am totally unwilling to have him in other people's care any more than he is. And the stress; the stress of managing everything is unbelievable sometimes. People tell me that managing work and family in academia is so much easier than in other careers because you have a great deal of flexibility to work when and where you want. Perhaps it is less stressful than some occupations (like law), but you still have to put in the time-lots of it-and it can be quite a high-pressured environment, especially in the years leading to tenure. Or maybe its just me. Maybe it's not all that stressful. Maybe I'm just not all that strong. That's what I think quite often, especially when reminded of the example of my own single mother who just seems to plow through every challenge without even blinking.

It seems Laura Hirshman is a backlash against those that preach the gospel of SAH motherhood for every woman. Certainly, society needs women in the workforce. It needs our talents and our energy, particularly since more women are getting college degrees now than men. But the "opt out revolution" is not a failure of individual women. It is a failure of our system to accommodate reality. Insted of castigating each other for choices that we often feel were forced upon us, we should be looking at what we can do to change the system to work for us. We are, after all, 51% of the population, not to mention that men, whether they realize it or not, have a vested interest in women's and children's well-being. As others on here have said, widespread part-time options for all workers would be a huge step forward.

I think, sometimes, women are our own worst enemy, turning on ourselves and each other rather than seeking creative, collective solutions.
post #58 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lemon Lady View Post
People tell me that managing work and family in academia is so much easier than in other careers because you have a great deal of flexibility to work when and where you want. Perhaps it is less stressful than some occupations (like law), but you still have to put in the time-lots of it-and it can be quite a high-pressured environment, especially in the years leading to tenure. Or maybe its just me. Maybe it's not all that stressful. Maybe I'm just not all that strong. That's what I think quite often, especially when reminded of the example of my own single mother who just seems to plow through every challenge without even blinking.
Lemon Lady - I'm reading your post as I'm debating on whether or not I should go to work today. Both kids have been sick, and today I am sick. DH took the kids into school, but since I've been out the last few days (DH and I have split up the days staying home with them) I feel compelled to go into work. Really, the kids could have used another day at home, but I wouldn't have any more energy to take care of them and me.

So - today I'm feeling like I've let my kids down and my employer. I probably am even letting dh down since I'm not pulling all of my weight around here.

I know other women who can balance well -- except that on a closer look, something gets ignored. My SIL hardly spends time with her children, and they have issues with comes out of that. My mom stayed home with me and my brother, and she was miserable...... It would be nice to find a balance where everyone gets what they need when they need it.
post #59 of 94
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LauraLoo View Post
Lemon Lady - I'm reading your post as I'm debating on whether or not I should go to work today. Both kids have been sick, and today I am sick. DH took the kids into school, but since I've been out the last few days (DH and I have split up the days staying home with them) I feel compelled to go into work. Really, the kids could have used another day at home, but I wouldn't have any more energy to take care of them and me.

So - today I'm feeling like I've let my kids down and my employer. I probably am even letting dh down since I'm not pulling all of my weight around here.

I know other women who can balance well -- except that on a closer look, something gets ignored. My SIL hardly spends time with her children, and they have issues with comes out of that. My mom stayed home with me and my brother, and she was miserable...... It would be nice to find a balance where everyone gets what they need when they need it.
There just has to be a way, but I'm gathering (for me) it's just not in the conventional sense. I'm determined to find that way with my family. I'm determined to figure this out so that my girls don't have the same struggles as I do.

For all the pain in the butt my mother can be, and all the baggage she left in her wake, she did one thing well, she created work for herself. She was lucky enough to have the financial freedom to do so, but she's always created the jobs she wanted. She's even changed directions a few times, but she did find a way to do what she wanted. And she wasn't even college educated.

I am reading the book "I can do anything I want...if only I knew what that was". So far, I'm really impressed. One of the things I noted is that I struggle with is a "time sickness". Having the nagging feeling that this needs to be solved NOW, or that everything I want has to happen now because time is running out. Well, who says that? Nobody but me.

I imagine it must be similar to the biological clock that I hear women get (somehow that passed me by because I was 30 before I had conceived my first child and it was only by accident). A sense of urgency pressing us onward to the next phase of life. I have that and I'm only 37 (will be 38).

It's a false belief I have that I will be worthless, defunct, unemployable in a few years time. I mean, sure, I may be, but that's not a given. Talk about setting myself up for failure before I even try! I think I'm smart enough to create a life I enjoy that works with my family's needs and not against it.

The life I want is somewhere, I just have to do the soul-work now to find it. I've wasted time, yes, but that's okay. I needed that extended hiatus - I worked from my junior year of college up til 4 years ago without ceasing, and had 3 children in a very short period of time (thank God dh has gotten a vasectomy). Now that the kids are growing a little less needy, I'm ready to get down to the business of finding out what I want and make it happen.

I want this thread to be one of hope and inspiration. I hope that it grows into that. That we support each other's struggles and provide some peace and perspective to each other.

Thanks for all the participation and I really appreciate your openness.
post #60 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by kmcmommyto3 View Post
There just has to be a way, but I'm gathering (for me) it's just not in the conventional sense. I'm determined to find that way with my family. I'm determined to figure this out so that my girls don't have the same struggles as I do.

For all the pain in the butt my mother can be, and all the baggage she left in her wake, she did one thing well, she created work for herself. She was lucky enough to have the financial freedom to do so, but she's always created the jobs she wanted. She's even changed directions a few times, but she did find a way to do what she wanted. And she wasn't even college educated.

I am reading the book "I can do anything I want...if only I knew what that was". So far, I'm really impressed. One of the things I noted is that I struggle with is a "time sickness". Having the nagging feeling that this needs to be solved NOW, or that everything I want has to happen now because time is running out. Well, who says that? Nobody but me.
So, here's the great thing. It's been a long time since I've read Sher's books, but from memory she was going through a lot of the same issues that we are......and she wrote a book about it! She became a published author and wrote more books!! How's that for turning lemons into lemonaide!!???

This really is a path of self-actualization. Your mother was able to figure out what she could do to make it work for her; we should be able to as well. I think it's just getting over all these mental hurdles so that we fully realize that we are not constrained by things like time and age. It's thinking outside of the box - daring to dream, and working step-by-step to make it work. It sounds so easy, doesn't it? It just never feels as easy as it sounds. I need to get those books back out and look at them from where I am now. When I read them 10 years ago I wasn't married and I didn't have kids!

Today I started to think that if I could line up additional care for my kids (outside of their school and after-school programs,) that would be a solution. Then I realized if I did that, it would further tie me into something that may not be right for me in the first place. I don't want to put band-aids on a not-so-great thing. I need to find the great thing that's doesn't require a remedy from the get-go. Then again, maybe the band-aid would be what I need to get me over the hurdle so that I can find the great thing. What I really need is time to think. Anyone want to loan me an unused hour they have just lying around??
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