Mothers Day

images-1Emily, 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.

Comments (Archived):

  1. Lauren Moores

    Great post for mother’s day. Good luck to Emily on the thesis. And thank you, Joanne, for not sugarcoating that internal struggle many of us face as our kids grow up.

  2. Lisa Abeyta

    I love her thesis! What a great idea. Happy Mother’s Day to you, and may your new chapter of motherhood be rewarding and exciting.

  3. pointsnfigures

    My wife was going to write a post similar to this but couldn’t find the words. She went to U of I, College of Business. Was the a top salesperson with a Fortune 100 firm. Then, left the workforce to stay home with the kids. Many women look down on her. They ignore her. Get mad at her.I always thought Women’s Liberation was about being free to make a choice-and not having other women think you are a second class citizen for choosing a traditional path.Good luck with this thesis. Great topic. How do educated talented women find their way back?Happy Mother’s Day.

  4. Sunchowder

    Happy Mother’s Day to you 🙂 Love the look and content of Emily’s Thesis project.

  5. AG

    HMD! I’ve learned so much about so many thing on this blog. The tips about parenting and what families can look like, I’ve filed away.I’m not so sure men will ever feel the tug in the same way, but I do believe sharing of responsibilities will keep getting better as women continue to grow more powerful. Would love to see an update on the thesis when it’s done.

  6. Mario Cantin

    I read and was touched by Fred’s post this morning, and I’m also impressed by your statements in this post as well as your daughter’s endeavors and display of maturity. Congratulations for building such a strong family unit, and happy Mother’s Day.

    1. Gotham Gal

      thanks Mario.

  7. Charlene

    Happy Mothers Day to you too! This sounds like an interesting subject and I cannot wait to see the the rest. Being a mother is the hardest job but the most satisfying and I so happy to have taken a little extra time to spend with my daughter. I have sweet memories of school concerts, ballet lesson drop offs, and trying my best to get the hair bun exactly perfect so that the ballet teacher would be happy. All but a few moments gone by too fast. It does feel nice to start getting that freedom back on not feeling guilty for working late and concentrating on what I’d like to do.The truth and hopefully it will change is that the time away from the professional work life is not recognised by employees yet. What a shame, because the soft skills we bring back are huge.Good luck to your daughter on her thesis!

    1. Gotham Gal

      The soft skills are huge.

  8. P.K. Fields

    Happy Mother’s Day!This new journey is awesome. I am attending my last graduation for one of my sons’s next Saturday and his wife’s law school graduation the following day.Yikes, everyone is gone, living productively, giving back and participating in their communities.I couldn’t be prouder as a Mom and it will alway be one of my favorite chapters of my life. All of the driving, cooking, sport practices, travel teams, games, championships, late night homework assignments, trips to the ER, driving lessons, sporting events, …etc The good news is this chapter never really ends, if you are a working parent or a stay at home Mom.I feel incredibly blessed to be spending today with My Mom, my hero and that I have two amazing sons and an incredible daughter-in-law.Brilliant idea for a thesis, good luck Emily!

    1. Gotham Gal

      trips to the ER..hilarious!

  9. Brandon Burns

    Your insights and tough love advice help to mold and shape not just the three kids you gave birth to, but the rest of your brood who come to this blog to learn from you everyday. And we’re all lucky to have you. Happy Mother’s Day!

    1. Gotham Gal

      aw…thanks Brandon.

  10. Rohan

    Happy mother’s day, Joanne! :))

    1. Gotham Gal


  11. Jill Stern

    You should be proud of her for her thesis, great topic especially that a young woman is thinking about it. I have one on his way out and one more to go next year and then I, too, will be ‘untethered’. That is the new word for us. I am so excited for this new chapter, you are right, it is like we are 24 again!!!!

    1. Gotham Gal

      untethered. i like that.

  12. Christine

    Having resigned from law firm partnership to be at home with baby I look forward to seeing Emily’s site when it is up and running – please let us know. Loved the post. Happy Mother’s Day!

    1. Gotham Gal

      will do

  13. Carol Fishman Cohen

    I just posted on her website! I returned to work after 11 years out of the full time workforce. Great topic.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Huge thanks. I will read it