Once again, we’re entering into the age old debate about balancing motherhood and a career. This time it’s brought about by a book recently released by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg who encourages women to “lean in”. I’ve tried to stay out of the debate, as most mothers I encounter are pretty defensive about the subject of sacrificing their careers or sacrificing their family. My views tend to be a bit passive-aggressive and cause friction and even anger, but I’m going to stick my big toe into this debate again and test out the waters.
First off, I think a high-powered COO who earns $30 million a year (Sheryl Sandberg) or the youngest CEO ever (Marissa Mayer of Yahoo) are not really the voice of so many working women. These women have the luxury of hiring landscapers, house cleaners, cooks, taking clothing to the dry cleaners daily, and in the case of Marissa Mayer, converting the office next to her’s into a nursery for her child. Women like these make it seem easy to balance motherhood with a career.
I made a choice when I became pregnant, that I wanted to be home with my child. I made the choice that ME being home and raising him was more important than any career I could ever have. Let me rephrase that, it’s more important than any career in the CORPORATE world. Raising a child is a career all on it’s own.
I know not every mother has the luxury of being at home. Not every mother sees that as a luxury, either. I saw and still see the opportunity to be home and raise my son as my greatest adventure ever. But I didn’t immediately become a stay-at-home mom. I took my son to daycare at six weeks of age and I worked until he was four months old. And let me tell you, balancing motherhood and a career is not as easy as some of these high powered executives make it out to seem.
I gave up a LOT in my life, a lot of me when I became a working mother. My friends were not important to me. I didn’t care to have a girls night out, I didn’t care to try to get my body back into shape. All I cared about was the fact that I was up at five a.m. every morning, dropping Davey off at daycare at 7 a.m., arriving at work by 7:45 a.m., leaving work at 5 p.m., picking my son up from daycare and then maybe having about two hours with him. TWO HOURS! That’s two waking hours of no feeding, but just one on one time with my child. A career in the corporate world? Not worth the sacrifice for me. I couldn’t have it all, and I didn’t want it all, at least not the “all” that society seems to push on working mothers.
Balancing motherhood and a career is possible, but not without sacrifices. It is not possible to maintain all parts of your life when you become a mother. There will always be that one moment when you have to sacrifice your child’s first recital because you’re closing a multi-million dollar deal or closing a security threat to your network. There will always be that one moment when you leave work on time to see Junior’s first soccer match, but in turn lose that contract you’ve worked on for the past year, that contract you’ve sacrificed other family time to attain. There will always be conflict. There will always be sacrifices, doubts, guilt, second thoughts, and regrets. As with everything in life, a choice has to be made, but don’t be fooled by these women who claim to balance motherhood and career with the ease of flipping the page of a book. Their lives are not indicative of the normal working mother’s life.
I’m not advocating for stay-at-home moms or working moms. I’m advocating for doing what’s best for you and your family. What’s best for me and my family is to be a stay-at-home mom. Just remember, it won’t be easy whatever your choice may be.