It’s tough to be a woman these days, especially if you pay attention to all the gab in the media. Facebook COO and working mother Sheryl Sandberg says we should be “leaning in” and fighting “the man” for better career options. New mom and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer recently sent a message that working from home is no longer an option for effective business practice.
So where does that leave mothers who want to work but also be present for their kids? Forget about nurseries next to giant corporate suites or 24-hour nannies, what if you just want to put your kid on the bus a few mornings a week and be there when they get home?
I did the 50-hour-work-week-attached-to-a-crackberry-24/7 gig for more than 15 years. I loved my job and I was good at it. But after we moved to the burbs and I had my third son, the weight of my career and raising three kids, and trying to be a decent wife (poor Wilson!) began to wear on me.
There are some women who can do it all. There are others who make tremendous sacrifices to become incredibly successful. I envy these women. Because I couldn’t do it. Frankly, I think many women can’t. Thousands more don’t want to try.
And isn’t that ok?
I don’t know if you can have it all. Because “it” is different for everyone. I know that I took a healthy break from full-time work and now that I’ve returned part-time, things are much different.
I work two days a week in Manhattan. I don’t mind the commute, I don’t even hate getting up at dawn. I enjoy using my mind in that way again and feeling like I’m contributing something. I especially like that it gives me something new to talk about when I see people.
A stay-at-home mom’s life can be rewarding, but it doesn’t give you much to say at a cocktail party.
But the downside is that while I was once a manager calling the shots, now I’m a worker bee, subject to the direction of new managers. There are days I want to kick ass and shine, but when you’re only there two days a week, people don’t see you as a rising star or someone with future potential. They barely notice you at all.
It’s been tough adjusting to not being on a clear career path. Sometimes I’m ambivalent about work and distracted by things going on at home. Is that work-life balance or limbo?
I still have career dreams that I’m working to achieve. I’ve had to accept that the path I might have taken 10 years ago doesn’t work with my life now. These are my choices and I’m grateful to have the luxury to make them. But I have more than myself to consider. The decisions I make about the kind of work I do and the time it requires to do it affects each member of our family.
There are no right answers to these quandaries. But I’d like to have open, respectful conversations about it among women. I don’t know why there has to be so much polarization and judgment in the discussions. We’re all just trying to figure it out as we go.
I’d love to hear about your experience with fitting work into your life and life into your work. Share your thoughts in the comments.