About two years ago there was an article that came out in Salon in which writer Katy Read said she regretted quitting her job to stay home with her kids. The headline read “I Wish I’d Never Quit Work To Raise My Sons.” The story’s sub-headline read: “Consider this a warning to new moms: Fourteen years ago, I ‘opted out’ to focus on my family. It was a mistake.”
I’ve never forgotten about this article.
From the minute I left my job after my first child was born, I felt the same way. Though I can’t say I’ve always been the first to declare it. I tend to feel rather ashamed about the way I feel. I love my kids and I don’t ever want to denigrate my love for them. I did go back to work a short period after they were born, but I went for a part-time job. Which led to another part-time job. And another. And not a lot of stability in terms of longevity.
Over the last few years I’ve been working primarily from home as a consultant. Every now and then, when a client has required face time in the office, I’ve had no problem going into the office a few days a week. The balance has been good for my family and me over the years but recently I’ve become more of a work-from-home mom. It was never really planned, it just evolved as my employers became more flexible over time and saw the value of a multi-tasking, efficient mom working from home, avoiding the commute and putting in just as many hours, if not more, as everyone else.
But lately I’ve started to desire the outside world. I feel a need to expand my work and take my skills back to the office on a full-time basis. Working from home is not as cushy as it was when my kids were in preschool and were coming home early in the day. When they come home now at 3 p.m., it’s hard to keep working and the balance is getting harder to maintain. Conference calls are hard to have after they get home and I can’t be that mom who keeps her kids inside while I work.
I’ve hit a breaking point where I want conference calls to turn into real life meetings. I crave the train ride into the city, as well as the steady paycheck. I crave a lot of things that people who have full time jobs complain about.
And there are jobs out there for women like me.
According to an analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, the May employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that job growth for women improved in April compared to the previous month. Of the 165,000 total jobs added to non-farm payrolls, women gained
It’s good news but the job search can be daunting.
I have put myself up for several full-time jobs this year. Most of them have been through real life contacts, like old managers and recruiters, but didn’t work out for various reasons. Perhaps they weren’t meant to be.
Yesterday I had another interview, this time for a job I very much wanted. It didn’t go very well and I came home kind of bummed out. My daughter took one look at me and asked what was wrong. When I told her I why and murmured that I was worried about not being good enough, her response was simple: “But you’ve been a mom for 10 years. You’re SO good at it!”
It was very sweet and I love my daughter for saying it, but it also made me wonder why being just a mom isn’t enough for me. It is for plenty of women living in my town who stay home with their kids and answer the door wearing June Cleaver aprons.
Don’t get me wrong, I adore my children, but I can’t just sit back and watch them grow up without achieving other things in my own life.
The question is this: what’s stopping me from getting the fabulous job I deserve? I am so ready to get back out there and buy some adult clothes and use my skills in a more professional arena where I will be recognized for something other than motherhood and children.
In a recent article by Peggy Drexler in the Huffington Post about going back to work after babies are born, she wrote:
“A 2011 study published in the Journal of Family Psychology looking at more than 1300 mothers across the U.S. found that working mothers reported fewer symptoms of depression and were more likely to rate their health “excellent” as compared with non-employed mothers. In this same study, working mothers also reported being just as involved in their child’s schooling as stay-at-home moms, while those who worked part-time provided more learning opportunities for their toddlers than those who didn’t work at all. The lesson? The kids will be all right — maybe even better — when mom puts herself if not first, then pretty close to the top of the priority list.”
Being a mom is full of everything wonderful, but sometimes being the person we were meant to be is no longer as possible as it once was.
Guest contributor Holly Rosen Fink is a marketing consultant, publishing executive, freelance writer and theater producer living in Larchmont, New York.