Recently, I've been having a lot of conversations with women who are struggling with the all too familiar dilemma of choosing between careers and family. Given my current status, I'm sure they expected me to be biased on this issue, but I'm not. During the past 8 months, I've learned that staying home is not for everyone.
Most people think this is a black & white type of decision - meaning, either you want to work or you don't. Well, surprise, surprise - it's not quite so cut and dry. One thing you may not realize is that there is an incredible amount of pressure and fear involved with making such a life altering decision. Just think - would it be easy for you to place your families' livelihood solely on your partner's shoulders? Are you really ready to make some serious personal sacrifices (goodbye name brand products & clothing, hello clearance racks & bargain bins). Sure, it doesn't sound horrible when you're reading it here, but believe me, it's tough!
For some, there is a greater concern of choosing between losing their identity or being viewed as abandoning their family should they decide to continue working. I have to admit, I was really surprised by the number of women who've said they feel as though their career is the last remaining hope to being identified as an individual and not "just Mom" or "So-and-so's spouse" . I know, I know - in these tough economic times, how can anyone judge an individual for continuing to work after becoming a parent? We all know children are NOT cheap, especially, if you plan to allow them to have a good, quality education. The fact of the matter is, no matter how advanced our society becomes there will always be "old school" expectations placed (predominantly) on women when it comes to raising children.
So, what's my advice for working through all of this? First and foremost, be honest with yourself about where your heart truly lies. Listen, deep down we already know what we want in most situations, but are usually too afraid to accept or voice our choices for fear of judgement. Your decision in this situation could call for some serious preparation, so time is of the essence - don't waste it fighting with yourself. That being said, if you are on a career path that you simply cannot walk away from, then by all means, continue working and be happy about it! Trust me, your family will benefit far more from a content, working parent than a miserable, stay home one. Next, have an open and honest discussion with your partner/spouse about your fears or concerns....ALL of them. My husband was actually a bit surprised to hear that he was one of my biggest concerns when deciding whether or not to seek a new corporate role. My fear was that he could resent me for causing him additional stress about our finances, if I chose to remain at home. In fact, my concerns over these pressures are exactly why I opened my DeSadas Style shop on Cafepress (which, by the way, you can check out here or "like" on Facebook here) and I began seeking freelance opportunities. Lastly, for those whom are concerned about losing their identity...I don't know how to say this delicately, so I won't - if you choose to peak out at this point in your life and become "just (insert title/role here)" well, that's on you. Personally, I don't understand how anyone could allow this to happen, but who am I to judge anyone? What I can tell you is that I was raised with the belief that you should always be striving for growth at every stage of your life. If you feel that you HAVE to choose to place your drive or ambitions aside for the sake of caring for your family, then let me remind you that your family will benefit far more from a content, passionate individual than a miserable one.
Until next time, my friends...
Be well & take care!