Friday, 4 October 2013

Leaving the workforce

We always talk about women having the right to choose a career or full-time motherhood. We do not talk nearly enough about this same choice for men.

Ok, that's slightly different from what comes next, but it is something that truly bothers me and I wanted to state it here. Because the context of this post is the right one. I just read Lisa Endlich Heffernan's Why I Regret Being a Stay At Home Mom.

Her points are realistic and considering these does not make you selfish or unconcerned (again: nobody questions fathers choosing to stay in the workforce).

Her poignant conclusion:
I lowered my sights for myself as I dimmed in my own mind what I thought I was capable of. I let go of the burning ambition I once held because I didn't feel as though I could hold it and three babies at the same time. My husband did not do this, my children did not do this, I did this. In the years that I was home, I lulled myself into thinking that I was accomplishing enough because I was. I was raising my children and as any parent who had spent a day with a child knows, that can fill all of the hours in a day. What I hadn't realized was how my constant focus on my family would result in my aspirations for myself slipping away. And despite it being obvious, I did not focus on the inevitable obsolescence that my job as mom held.
A couple other points that stood out:
During the years at home with my children, I made the most wonderful friends, women I hope to know all of my life. But living in the suburbs among women of shockingly similar backgrounds, interests and aspirations narrowed the scope of people with whom I interacted. In the workplace, my contacts and friends included both genders and people of every description, and I was better for it.

I got my driver's license after a short course and a couple of lessons in 11th grade. My post-secondary education took six years of hard work and yet, for years, I used my drivers license far more than my formal education. On one level, I felt like I was shortchanging myself and those who educated, trained and believed in me by doing this.

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