Emily, our middle daughter, is working on her thesis that will consist of a website devoted to mothers who opt out of the workplace. The premise of the thesis is below. I believe that she is embarking on a really interesting topic.
Before this day is done, a highly educated, full-time professional woman will shut the lights and close the door to her office, turn in her ID and walks away from a promising career. It is a bitter-sweet departure but an exciting new opportunity awaits—the chance to be managing partner of the ultimate start-up venture, motherhood.
All the exit signs are clearly marked on the path from office to nursery. Less obvious is the way back.
There are very little options to re-enter the work force once you have left it. Some women try to achieve a kind of work-life balance (part-time work, shared childcare responsibilities), but what does it mean when you are trying to have it all, but not all at once? This in part about women who’ve invested massively in their careers but who walk away from that in order to raise their children. Why make this choice? What will be your future? How are you thinking about your future, career-wise? We’ve created this space for moms and moms-to-be who are opting out of the workforce to care for their children in order to discuss their thought processes regarding this decision and the future of their careers.
I reached out to a friend of mine who definitely has the internal push-pull of staying in leaving or figuring out how to stay in under her own terms. As she noted to me it is so complicated. It is so damn complicated is right.
I have had that internal conflict for the past 23 years. I am quite sure that Fred has not had that conflict. I hope that the next generation of men have that same internal conflict that I have had because if they do then things will truly change.
As of this past March when Josh essentially stopped going to school because his high school has the kids do a project or internship their last trimester our life has changed. He is not sitting at home every night doing his work after a family dinner. He is on his own, independent and with his friends.
For me it is a new found freedom. We now have three young adults in our lives which is wonderful. For me, that internal conflict is gone. It is empowering. That freedom has changed my personal outlook on how I want to spend my time and with who. I can be focused on my own desires again such as my passion for what I do. It is like being 24 again when I was under the impression that I would be running a multi-billion dollar company by at least 26. I was focused and ready to take on the world. Then I had a kids which changed everything. How could I have both? I decided I couldn’t and it was the best decision I ever made. The time I spent with our kids when they were young was amazing and I am so glad I was able to do that. Even as teenagers I can think back to many times that I am so glad that I was available for them. I plan on being there, supporting them and being their biggest champion as adults but it is different because they are each capable independent people who don’t need me to hold their hand. They just need me to be supportive. That is a very different dynamic.
Happy Mothers Day to all. It is the hardest job out there not just as being a mother to your children but the push/pull echo chamber in your own head based on your own personal desires when it comes to satisfaction in your working world. I am not a fan of the word “work” as I think of that part of my life as my brain challenge which drives my competitive entrepreneurial spirit.
Life is complicated and for me this next phase of motherhood is feeling really good.