When it comes to work, I’ve been very lucky. I’ve found not one but three companies willing to let me work from home in a ridiculously remote location and with a reasonable amount of flexibility. But no matter how sure I am that I’m doing the right thing here, there are days when I’m just wrung out over the entire situation.
With the usual caveats about how everyone should do what’s best for him or her, here’s an example.
Parents who stay home with their kids can get to swim lessons in the afternoon and seem to spend a good part of every summer day at a pool or in a pond. Their kids can swim like fish. On the other hand, I can get John to a lesson maybe once a week at most, and that includes summer. Swimming has yet to achieve critical mass. As a result, John’s not making the progress at the pool that I wish he would. Then I start to worry that he’s going to be left out. And be scarred because of it. And then as an added bonus, I feel even more guilty about my schedule than usual. But none of that helps him swim.
Multiply this example by about twenty, and that’s how I’m feeling about being a working mother lately. And I have it easy! I work very regular hours and my commute lasts as long as it takes me to walk down the stairs. I have brilliant and talented friends who are handling much more demanding jobs an hour away. Or buying precious family time by doing work that’s not as challenging as it could be. These are women who have jobs that I would think of more as callings. Not working wouldn’t be the right choice for them either. Is there a right choice?
As ever, I don’t have an answer. (And I haven’t read Lean In, either, because I think it’s going to make me worry even more about what I have or have not accomplished.) I’m just sharing because it’s an issue that’s on my mind even more than usual lately.
I was talking with someone last week about the way having a baby initiates an enormous change in every single aspect of life, personal and professional. I’m assuming that when these babies leave the house, there will be another change. We’ll have free time again someday. We’ll have the option of working 10 or 12 uninterrupted hours again. But will we want to? Or will we want to sit on the couch with a glass of wine and a book? After a long week and a long weekend, I bet you can guess what I’m leaning toward.