Thursday, April 1, 2010

Babies and Careers and Women

I was debating whether to write it can kind of be well, alittle controversial. I love my mom and my grandmothers. They are wonderful dear people in my life. They had babies young. They always reminded me to get my education and my career before settling down, getting married and having kids. I always wanted to learn from my mom and my grandmom and do things the "right way", whatever that was. I went to college, (by a thread), got a job, tried grad school, left and am now in grad school part time. My sister is the same, she got a Ba, got a BFA, and is now going for her masters in Teaching. I'm married and she's getting married. Friends of mine are in the same boat, went to school, just got married and thinking about having children. But theres a worry, time and money. One more worry than what these women in my life had. Alot of women today have gotten their education, careers and are married/getting married and want to have children, but do not want to give up their jobs that they've worked so hard for.

My female elders have always drilled career and education first, then settle down. Its as if, my grandmoms and the other women in my life were some how given the raw end of the deal because they settled down early and didn't have their education and careers first. Even after having their babies and being married, when they did enter the workforce, unless their family had money saved for them for school, they rarely got to go back to school and so entered a job, maybe not a career, but a job nonetheless. I'm finding myself, and talking to lots of my friends about this as well, almost 30 and with a job (which I am very thankful for) and an education (which I am also very thankful for), and married (again which I am also extremely grateful for)...but without the other that these women have had, the big B... Baby. And, to be honest, I’m starting to want one. I’m starting to talk with friends and instead of going straight to clothes or travel trips, we’re going to baby talk. I wonder if having a baby is conducive to a lifestyle of a "career woman". I mean, I have a career, I work, I guess you could call me a career woman. Many women in my situation are in careers that they've worked very hard for, and that they've invested in (education wise). Thats all well and good to be proud of, but it seems, the older I get, the more seniority at work comes, the more I feel "set in my ways" and the more having a baby gets farther and farther away...and the funny thing is, it seems directly opposite on the spectrum of career safety and financial security. The more financial security and career safety, the more the picture of having babies, leaving work and raising them fades off into the distance. Have women been given the raw end of the deal...again?? Friends of mine who are also in this situation are getting married and buying houses and working, and complain about not having enough time with their husbands...that their idea of being married isn't the same as what they thought it would be, mostly because of the time issue. The women who reminded and reminded me to get my education and career, are the same women who stayed at home with their kids, maybe went to work at a parttime or fulltime job after their kids had grown, but had kids and took care of their home and everyone in it, and had the time to cook nice meals at home, but again, thought they got the raw end of the deal because they missed out on an education that would lead to a career, and a career. Don't get me wrong, I cook at home, but its mostly me getting in from work and then going to the kitchen to cook. I sit down and relax finally when we eat together. How would that be if I had a baby? See the baby in the morning, and then at 7 o'clock at night.  I feel like that would be really hard, emotionally and physically. And many women need to work to pay off the student loans that have mounted from working for the education and career. I remember something different when I was little. I remember my mom smiling with an apron, telling us slowly and sweetly how to make homemade sauce and how to spread it over homemade pizza doe. It makes me wonder, have women been given the raw end of the deal...again? What do you think?



  1. Growing up my mom that was a the top of her career and my father owned his own business. We had a nanny that we loved like a second mom. We did however have dinner every night as a family and always spent time together over the weekend and took several family vacations.

    Although, my sister was a nanny for a few different families and some of her kids didn't want to go back to the parents at the end of the day.

    I think it is all on how well you can balance work life and home life and the quality of the time you do spend with the kids. It can be done, but I am sure it takes work.

  2. Hi Nikki- As a 32 yr old, unmarried, career woman (lawyer), I've thought a lot about the issue of work-life balance and the unique dilemmas that women face because of our physical ability to bear children. I've also thought at times that women got the raw end of the deal. But really, what our moms' generation fought for was the opportunity for us to choose what we wanted to do with our lives, not the opportunity for us to do everything with our lives.

    The ability to be a mother is a blessing and a curse. It forces us to make tough choices about where we want to expend our mental, emotional, and physical energy. But it's pretty awesome that we get that choice. And really, isn't that what life is all about? Discovering what your individual path to happiness is, and having the courage to follow that path, regardless of what society or anyone else tells you is right or wrong.

    I think if you're living in a way that makes you happy, and you set the tone and priorities for your life, your career and your family will adjust with you.

    Good luck!

  3. Maybe the key here is that while we CAN have it all, we may need to realize that we might not be able to have it all at once! If babies and family are your desire and your ideal is to give that your full focus then some lean financial times and putting your career on hold might be the solution. I realize that is a HUGE sacrifice... but sacrifice and parenthood are synonymous. I know many men who would love to stay home with their children, but they've also gotten the "raw end of the deal."

    I watched my mom balance a career and a baby born in her 30's (me) and given the financial choice she probably would have chosen to not have it ALL. She would have loved to be a Stay at Home Mom, but she didn't have that choice and instead made the best of it.

    As a mom myself, I can honestly say that a child isn't a choice that is regretted, even if it is exhausting and taxing to be a working mother (which I've done) and your situation isn't ideal... it still works somehow!

    Good luck!

  4. This is such a difficult choice for many women. Though I tend to disagree with your earlier commenter that said motherhood is both " a blessing and a curse"- I kind of feel like if you think motherhood is part curse, you should probably avoid having kids. Maybe that road isn't for you. And to me that's what it comes down to- how much do you want it? If it's burning in your heart to have a baby, then making the sacrifies to do so may be hard, but you will ultimately get great satisfaction from making those choices. If it's burning in your heart to be the best in your career field- that also takes sacrifices...and one of those is going to be family time. And by the way that will be the case whether you have a baby or not.
    So to me, I think women have to very carefully weigh their own desires. It's ok to listen to other women (elders as you say), but always keeping in mind that they come from their own circumstances and what might have suited them best, may be terrible for you.

    I agree with the poster above that said we can have everything, just not at the same time. I think that comes the closest to the truth. You can have what you want as a woman...but you do have to take the time to listen very carefully to your own feelings about the matter. And then you have to make tough decisions to put that plan into action.

    I believe that women did not get a rough deal. I think we got the kick ass end of the deal! We live in a time when society will support us being career women or stay at home moms, or a combination. Though I think doing a combination at the same time is pretty rough. Guys do not have that support for staying home with their babies, guys do not have the one of a kind experience of bonding with their baby while it grows in their bodies, guys don't ever get to be "mommy!"- so I think we as women pretty much lucked out!

    I say- find what you feel most passionate about- motherhood or career...and then pursue it with gusto. It's only my opinion- but I think trying to prioritize a career and baby equally is just asking for disappointment on both counts.

  5. When I was younger, I was going to get a career and rule the world. Seriously. That was my whole plan. I used to say "I'm never having kids!" but if I did, hubby would take care of them. Not me. Having children, is a very personal decision and not one to be taken lightly. Have women gotten the raw end of the deal? Perhaps. It's all how you look at it. Career women longs for a family but it is too late. SAHM wishes she could still be in her career. And for the same reason: To do something that has meaning. Mom's forget that they are doing something so very meaningful that goes way beyond the laundry. Career women forget that they too are doing something meaningful. It's not just about them. It's about women every where. Empowering us and reminding us that it really wasn't that long ago that our place in life was the home with our kids and nothing else. I am rambling here. Sorry. It really boils down to you, Nikki. What do you want?

  6. This is truly an interesting post. Your questions are hard ones...and, I think, ones only each couple can answer for themselves. For us, it was important to have mommy at home for the formative years of our daughter's life. Loss of income and brain cells notwithstanding, I'm glad we made that choice. I have friends, however, who seem quite happy continuing with a career. In truth, the only complaint I've heard is from a woman my age whose mother's career was soooo consuming she barely spent time with her. She truly was raised by a nanny and missed out on bonding with mom... Sometimes I think the grass seems greener...the only difficulty, in truth, we're really experiencing as a result of our choice is comparative loss of income. So many two income households exist, prices of houses etc are responsive to this ability to pay, and I think alot of inflation has the point that, for many, two incomes are absolutely needed.

    That said, good luck with the decision making process for you and your husband.

  7. I agree that it comes down to each person and what they're willing to sacrifice. I guess it's a lie that you can have it all because eventually one thing will have precedence over the other. Right now I have every intention to continue working once I have kids because hey, my dreams and ambitions will still be there once I'm a mom and I want to feel like I'm providing for them and myself too. Maybe it's the idea of needing to rely on someone that I'm not yet comfortable with.

    But I have no idea if all this will change once that time comes. I just know/hope it doesn't come anytime soon because I'm definitely not ready for that commitment just yet!

  8. I never wanted to be a stay at home mom until I had a baby. I KNEW I would want to work and have a career...then she came. The light of my life. My very reason for existence. I became SO depressed at work...finally, I had to quit my job. I'm a stay at home mom now but I'm still in school and I have so much student loans that I hate to see my education go to waste. I know that eventually I want to work again because I'm extremely passionate about what I'm going for (Teaching) but I also know that I'm not willing to work until my kids are in school. So, I'm slowing it down a bit. Playing it by ear.

    Not everyone feels this way though and there is NO shame in wanting to work full time as a mama.

  9. wow thanks for all of your feedback ladies!!! it is so nice to talk to other women about this kind of stuff and to hear your povs. I know it is our decision but its nice to know that I'm not alone in all this questioning I'm doing. I don't know what is right, maybe like you have done mamachrista, I'll know what to do after that time comes.


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