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Friday, June 17, 2005

Full-time work without guilt, mostly

Now that Portfolio Manager Mom is back at work, we don't really ever see her or her son anymore because our playgroup meets during the week, during regular business hours. And the weekends are primarily for family time, which doesn't leave much room for playdates, unless it is coordinated and orchestrated by Father in Chief.

Anyway, that means that I haven't really seen or talked to PMM since she went back to work a month or so ago. But Portfolio Manager Mom held a birthday party for her son who was celebrating his second birthday last weekend, and of course, we were invited along with all of the other former playgroup pals.

It was great to see them and to hear about PMM's office and co-workers and commute and office parties and how she isn't really missing her son at all. He's doing great in daycare and she is loving work. She was grinning ear to ear. It's amazing how she manages to not be guilty at all (or at least a tiny bit guilty outwardly to the public). Since we were never that close to begin with, I probably don't really get the whole story.

But mostly it seemed like she was totally satisfied with her decision because she felt that she had maxed out on what she could provide her son at home. And she missed working. Which is okay. I don't think there is any rule that says a mother must stay home with her child. (Although, according to Angry Pregnant Lawyer, there are hordes of women who think that mothers should not be allowed to work, even if it makes them happier, better parents.)

When the thank you note arrived in the mail a few days later, there was a tiny bit of regret or longing: "Hope to see you soon. I miss our playgroups, but I also like working. It's too bad I can't have both."

It's so sad that for so many parents, it's one or the other. Finding a combination that works and fulfills both needs is a rarity. On the parenting road of life, there are barriers up on both sides of every lane. You get to pick the one to drive on, but once you choose, you can't really switch with ease.

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