Sunday, January 07, 2007

Ruminations

As I learn more about career sacrifices many professional women make when they have children, I am reminded of a conversation my dad and I had when I was 18 and just about to enter college. The pressure and the scariness of that transition got the best of me one afternoon so I lashed out at him, "Why does it matter if I go to college? I'll have to give up my job the minute I have a baby anyway." He seemed taken aback since my schooling experience had not cut corners and had been slanted toward a grueling profession in the sciences (which to his chagrin I later abandoned for a broadcasting degree). In retrospect, my comment was just plain ignorant and short-sighted. But, it underlined a frustration that still pervades today's female workforce.

Once I started college, the reality of getting through school with good grades, good times and the prospect of a job faded the "motherhood conflict" into an abstraction, like a country you've heard about but never visited. It also helped that I dated guys who, like green bananas, had great potential but needed to ripen. With a healthy dose of work ethic and self-sufficiency, I graduated and developed a challenging career observant of technology trends that also exposed me to bright and exceptional people (including my husband).

As a "Type A" perpetual project manager, I like to consider all possible scenarios...far in advance. So in the later half of 2006, I ruminated about what it would be like to walk away from 10+ years of working full time to stay at home to raise a child--not that we were even in this position yet of course. The very thought awakened a deep fear of becoming irrelevant to the community I had spent years participating in. Granted, for some people it doesn't have to be an all or nothing proposition but the time commitments required for the kind of work I do *is* all or nothing. It took months of talking to friends who already have babies and observing their various situations to feel comfortable that I could do this too. One of the main complaints I've heard from stay-at-home moms is feeling under stimulated due to lack of regular exposure to adults. You know, I've worked with my share of adults who act like children so it does go both ways.

I also realized that I had bound almost all of my interests and self-worth to my work. I knew this was dangerous and I needed to expand my purview. So I started to blog and reinvested myself in children's writing again. This leads me to a whole new group of people and celebrates my love of children's literature. I find it extremely fulfilling and I've only scratched the surface of what I can do in this arena.

I know there will come a day when I will set my current career aside to fulfill the great and blessed responsibility of motherhood. But it doesn't mean I will cease to contribute or be relevant. Like everything I've accomplished in this life, it's up to me to forge that path.

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