This is part 2 of an interview that I conducted with a professional mother who has been struggling to balance her home and work life. She and her husband have developed a master plan for her to be able to stay home. Since she is still working, I have changed her name to protect her job and identity.
MetaMOMphorsis: Do you feel that you would want to find some type of work in your current field so as not to “waste” your degree?
Kim: Maybe initially, but I would get it out of my system. I got the degrees and the certifications, I know I qualified for them, and I am proud to have had them. But I would be ok, because it would be my choice not to maintain them. When I am out, I will be out. I will definitely go and do something else. I would try to maintain some kind of activity to ensure that I look viable on a resume. I think that would be easy because I could do something while my daughter is in school. I don’t know how hard it would be to find something with the right hours because I haven’t looked for a job in 10 years. I do know that I don’t want to be punching a time clock.
MetaMOMphorsis: If you had to choose between staying home and working part time, which would you choose?
Kim: I would choose to work part time. But I don’t want to end up getting paid a part time salary for full time work. This could easily happen, and it would make me feel bitter. I have thought about working at night and being home during the day, but my husband thought that would be horrific – when would I ever sleep? Also, considering that he travels a lot for his job, it would cause too much upheaval. What complicates it for us is that we have no family in the area to lean on, even sporadically.
MetaMOMphorsis: What does your dream life look like?
Kim: I would be home to put my daughter on the bus every morning and get her off the bus every afternoon. I think it is a dream that a lot of working mothers have. It is a very simple, but beautiful dream. And I am willing to sacrifice for that dream by accepting a lesser position.
MetaMOMphorsis: What do you think about the current work culture that we live in?
Kim: I think that our culture has morphed into a two income society, and as a consequence, our children have suffered. Chasing the American Dream, with it’s need for material things, can kill you. There are basics that I, and most people need, like a roof over their head, food and savings. I do not feel that there is a need to work for “things” in an effort to keep up with the Jones’s. I am happy to make do with less. I also think that women can be very hard on other women. We each need to be personally satisfied with our own individual choices, and do what is best for ourselves. We should be supportive, not critical, of someone else’s choices.
MetaMOMphorsis: Do you discuss any of your work-life challenges with your co-workers or industry peers?
Kim: I am pretty open with other women about these issues. I work with some single mothers who have primary custody of their children. A few of them cannot believe that I am not staying home, even though I could. But they walk in different shoes from me. Lots of women in my profession don’t have kids, or they do, but they are raising them the same way I am raising my daughter. We don’t really talk about how we get through it. We just shrug and say that it is what it is – nothing can be done about it.
MetaMOMphorsis: If you had to give advice to your younger self regarding pursuing a career and mothering, what would you tell her?
Kim: I would tell her to be selective when choosing a career. Maybe something like teaching, which seems to be amendable to the kids’ schedule. I didn’t think about this back then. But I would even seriously consider it today. This is what I tell my daughter, but I still tell her that she is going to get a professional degree. I think an education gives you options, and I want her to have that. I want her to pick something that she loves to do. I will warn her about what to expect, and have her talk to people in the profession to make sure that this is what she wants to do. Most importantly, I will tell her to make sure that she can pay off her debt. I have already told her that we will take care of her college education.
MetaMOMphorsis: Do you feel that your advice to your daughter or your plans to stay home are anti-feminist actions?
Kim: I could care less! I am not out there to be the role model for feminism. I really don’t care to be a role model. If anyone asks how I could do that, I would say, how could I not? If I have a choice, then I am empowered. If I do not have a choice, then I am not.