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Monday, January 10, 2005

Not giving up

I have been getting a lot of email about whether it is better to work, or not work, or work part-time while you have a baby at home.

One friend's email started out commiserating with me and wound up scolding me for even thinking about wanting a job. She worked full-time after both of her maternity leaves and wishes she could have been home with her kids during that very short period of time. Being at home with your babies while they are small is “a season of life” that goes by so quickly, she said.

It is true. Work and bosses and commutes and deadlines and stress will be there in a few years if I decide to go back to work full-time. She does not understand why I would want any of that, even if it would only a few hours a week. She has never had the choice to be home, so she admittedly does not know what it feels like to have a chunk of your identity cut out of your life.

Instead of tying to balance home and work, Scolding Friend said if you have the option and luxury to be at home, enjoy! If you want some creative outlet, she recommended taking a class or volunteering.

I know what I want, and I guess I am not ready to give up so easily.


  1. Hi Suzanne,

    It's Miriam from Playground Revolution. I love your blog, and thanks for visiting mine, and let's hurry and get you a copy of my book when it comes out in April because I think you will really love finding friends in it! It's all about wanting more options inbetween either being totally at home forever or totally working fulltime forever.

    Don't give up. It is really hard to deal with this stuff, with the all or nothing choice that many mothers are forced to make. And there is so much judgment and scolding out there, as you say, instead of real understanding that we moms (and many dads too) are not insane for wanting to parent, and work, in different ways at different times, and in proportions that keep life sane.

    And let's ALL keep talking and blogging about these issues. It's really fraught, and it's really important.

    Glad to meet you, and thanks for linking me, and I'll do the same!

    playground revolution

  2. Thanks for starting this blog. The subject of work/stay-home-mom has not been discussed among my mom friends yet, but it's probably because I've just passed my first month of motherhood - a complete newbie. While pregnant, I laid out a plan to go back to work after 3-4 months AND train for a marathon - was I naive, is this realistic? After spending a little over a month with our baby girl, I am having second thoughts about commitment / involvement, FT / PT, cash rich / time poor, and the list goes on... Keep writing. It's inspiring!

  3. It is an individual preference whether a mom WANTS to be at home or wants to be in the workforce. That preference is then, of course, affected by whether a mom can financially afford not to have a paycheck, or whether a mom can find a job or has one to go back to. I have a friend who was laid off from her job while on maternity leave with her first-born a few years back. I had just moved to CA when I was pregnant and did not have a job. When my daughter was 4 months old I started looking because I thought I would like to go back to work when she was around 6 months old - but I couldn't find anything in my field. It was depressing not to have an actual choice available to me. And isn't what this is all about - trying to give women a choice?

  4. I just read the Scolding Friend post and must defend myself.

    Staying at home with your children is a luxury that many women can't afford. I'm one of them, so I will admit to a measure of envy. That being said, my second point was that corporate America may not be capable of giving you what you're looking for.

    You don't want a job, you want an adult life.

    A "job" is one way to get that life, but if memory serves me, your job was never that fulfilling to you. Isn't that why you quit your high-level management position to be an underpaid TV production assistant? My point is this: Take this golden opportunity to find your way to what you REALLY want.

    I don't mean you should just get involved in the local Ladies Garden Club. Freelance, write a book, take a writing class (fer Chrissakes we've got Stanford and UC Berkeley right here where published novelists teach night classes), get a part-time job (yes, they do exist).

    Don't waste this "season" moping and whining for something you never really liked in the first place. Go get what you do want. Or at least, spend some time going down blind alleys figuring out just what that is.

    You've got the resources and the time, two things many moms don't have whether they stay at home or go back to work.... You KNOW I love you....xoxoxo