Today marks the beginning of the one-month countdown until I plan to go on Maternity leave from work.
This still terrifies me.
It’s plainly obvious that my career (along with life in general) from here on out will never be the same. What it will be like post-kid, nobody can say, and I, like anyone, have a healthy amount of anxiety about the unknown.
So I’ve been doing a lot of reading and reflecting about work, work-life balance and life as a working mom. And a number of pieces have really resonated with me.
From Seth Godin on “Why we work”:
1. For the money
2. To be challenged
3. For the pleasure/calling of doing the work
4. For the impact it makes on the world
5. For the reputation you build in the community
6. To solve interesting problems
7. To be part of a group and to experience the mission
8. To be appreciated
The Dutch Paradox on women working mostly part-time, and how they don’t seem to equate work with pleasure (from Slate):
“We look at the world of management—and it is a man’s world—and we think, oh I could do that if I wanted,” says Maaike van Lunberg, an editor at De Stentor newspaper. “But I’d rather enjoy my life.”
And from Penelope Trunk, on Working (or not) Moms:
So. Now I’m a stay-at-home mom. I’m working about 35 hours a week, but relative to how I had been working, this is part-time work. It’s scary to tell people I’m not working full time because all the good jobs will dry up. And it’s scary to tell people when I’m not home with my kids because I only get one chance in my life to do that. The labels are most scary because they tell you what you gave up. And the scariest thing about adult life is what we give up.
It’s also hard for me to remember that the way thing are going to be for the next few years is not the way they’ll be forever. Raising kids is hard, important work. Work I want to do. But I also find the work I already do to be challenging and rewarding, and I am reluctant to step away from that entirely. A whole year off seems both too long and not long enough at the same time.
What I would really like is to focus on being happy and fulfilled, in whatever form that takes, and not worry so much about how other people label it.
I’m still mostly uncomfortable about the whole thing, but found this article in the New York Times most closely mirrors my own thoughts about the feminism, the tradeoffs, the costs and the rewards.
And at the very least it’s a glimmer of hope that maybe that the time off will be a very good thing, for me, my family, my career and my peers.
This, I would argue, is why the workplace needs women. Not just because they are 50 percent of the talent pool, but for the very fact that they are more willing to leave than men. That, in turn, makes employers work harder to keep them…. Women started this conversation about life and work — a conversation that is slowly coming to include men. Sanity, balance and a new definition of success, it seems, just might be contagious. And instead of women being forced to act like men, men are being freed to act like women. Because women are willing to leave, men are more willing to leave, too…. Looked at that way, this is not the failure of a revolution, but the start of a new one. It is about a door opened but a crack by women that could usher in a new environment for us all.