Originally published: June 2011
It’s an interesting study when you think about it. Women who go to school, get degrees, enter the workforce, achieve success in their careers, then have babies and do the “mental flip”. That’s the one where they give birth and then have no desire to be in the workforce again or decide that motherhood supersedes absolutely everything else.
To be clear there is a difference from the women I’m describing above to mothers who start their own businesses and may choose to work from home. They are still working. I’m talking about the ones who are the quintessential stay-at-home moms — who take care of kids and home.
What is at the core of this mental flip? How can you sacrifice that much of yourself?
Don’t get me wrong, taking care of one’s own children is the most important job out there. But why do it at the expense of everything else — career, education, relationships, financial security — the list is long.
I’ve been cast many an evil over the years from stay-at-home moms — and I’m pretty positive that it’s not my imagination. You know the look —- that icy stare when you make a rare appearance to pick up your kids after school or volunteer for a school field trip. Rare is the operative word here.
My philosophy is that I do the best I can with what I have and spend no time focusing on what other people think. In my case, I’ve been blessed with a career I thoroughly enjoy, with a creative energy that must be stoked and nourished, with a spouse that supports my desire to be completely fulfilled and with three children who have had to adapt to schedule changes and the like to accommodate my work hours (shifts, evenings, weekends, etc.) Some days are definitely more challenging than others. And sure there are days when some of the pieces of the daily puzzle need a little more manipulation to make them fit, but we get it done — asking for help when necessary, delegating at other times and just mapping out a plan with everyone doing their part to achieve success.
The key is setting priorities and sticking to them. Family first. Work second. Everything in moderation right behind.
When she wrote, “The Feminine Mistake” in 2007, Leslie Bennetts, author and contributing editor of Vanity Fair magazine set off a firestorm of great debate that continues to rage. Bennetts, a mother herself, contends that women who opt-out of the work force are doing themselves a huge disservice — placing all their financial eggs in one precarious basket — their significant other. What happens if that other half leaves, loses their job or dies?
Critically important food for thought that new moms who may find themselves agonizing over this very question should consider.
Watch my interview with Leslie Bennetts, author, “The Feminine Mistake”