A friend of mine from college posted this New York Times article on Facebook today (Being a Working Mother Means Always Having to Say You’re Sorry) and as I read it, all I could do was nod.
The fact that I was nodding the whole time both saddened and infuriated me.
It saddened me because of how true it is … and infuriated me because it shouldn’t be this way. We shouldn’t have to feel the need to apologize for making choices that put our children first!
I’m fortunate to work at a family-friendly company which allows for some flexibility when necessity calls, but not everyone is so lucky. And even in a flexible environment like mine, there are still lines in the sand you don’t want to cross if you want to be viewed as a team player and a committed employee.
On another related note, another friend (who is a working mom living in the Netherlands and married to a Dutch man) posted an article about how in the Netherlands, only 8% of married couples with children both work full-time. Conversely, in the U.S. in 2012, a whopping 59% of married couples with children both work. (Source: Bureau of Labor and Statistics). Of course, there are tons of reasons for this disparity … but it’s interesting to note that in terms of happiness, the Netherlands ranks #4 and the U.S. … #17 (Source: World Happiness Report 2013).
To me, the ideal work situation would be working part-time — having a fulfilling career but also being home when the kids are done with school to be able to help with homework, cart them to lessons/sports, cook dinner … All of that is very important to me and something I’m not ruling out for the future.
And if our careers wouldn’t take a hit by taking a step back to part-time hours (anyone else read Lean In?), I have a feeling a lot of women would agree with me … that working part time would be the utopian solution: a way to keep one foot in the door but also keep family a top priority.
So let’s make a pact, working moms: let’s not feel bad for the times the scale tips in the favor of our kids. Let’s be the ones to set the tone.
How about you? What would the ideal situation be for you and your family? Are you living it now, or what — if anything — could you do to change it?