In a week focused on my evolving career goals I can't ignore how having children has changed my professional life. Below is something I wrote 3 years ago on a long since neglected and no longer public personal blog. At the time I only had one child. When I wrote this he was 5 months old. In the post I still refer to him with his in utero nickname of "critter."
Since writing this I have had another child, and my work arrangement has changed. Before I reflect on my current situation I wanted to look back at when I put myself "On the Mommy Track."
I’ve always considered myself a career-woman. Sure, I may have sometimes slowed my career (and earnings) in exchange for changes in specialty and employment sector, but I was always focused on being successful in my professional life. Even as recently as my maternity leave I applied for another position in search of greater challenges and visibility.
That most recent job pursuit resulted in three rounds of interviews. In that last round, I was one of two finalists (down from 20 candidates for the initial phone interview and who knows how many applicants). In the end, they chose the other person. I was disappointed, of course! Who doesn’t want people to think they are the best person for a job? But I was also a bit relieved. By the time the choice was made I had been back to work for several weeks and was increasingly unhappy about the time my job kept me away from the critter. A new job would mean a learning curve that would likely result in longer hours. The greater degree of responsibility would like mean that those longer hours would likely persist.
Another mommy had pointed out that with 50 hours a week in daycare the critter spent most of his waking hours there. That was a very depressing thought. On weekends I didn’t want to do anything without the baby because I was acutely aware of how limited that time was. My personal self began to atrophy due to the lack of time when I wasn’t caring for the baby. I was exhausted. Something had to change.
So, starting this week, I will be a part-time SAHM. I start working 3 days a week, which gives me 2 extra days with my boy and a lot of extra breathing room to occasionally do things on my own without feeling guilty for being away. By working part time (rather than staying at home full time), I’ll still get the satisfaction of my professional accomplishments, contributing to the household income, and just having a reason to know what day of the week it is. I am hopeful that this will be the perfect balance for me.
I am extremely grateful to my wonderful husband whose support (both personally and financially) is making this possible. I am truly a very lucky woman.
So, will this adjustment affect my future career opportunities? I hope not, but I realize it might. That’s okay. My priority is my boy. For all my accomplishments both professionally and artistically, this critter is the project that by far brings me the most joy. I never expected to not continue working full time, but I never expected to love motherhood this much. It is the most amazing thing I've ever done.