As I watched my predecessor, Karen, write about her exit from her corporate job and, therefore, her role as Working Mom, I felt the familiar twinges of guilt tug at me. Here was a woman who was reassessing her values and priorities and making changes that reflected those life decisions.
And here, on the other hand, am I.
I have two small children - a son in third grade and a three year old daughter. I work full time at a job that keeps me (and as a result, them) out of the house from 7 in the morning until 6 at night. I spend as much time commuting as I do going over homework. I send checks for lunch instead of sandwiches and avoid the PTA robocalls like a bad case of head lice.
What life choices am I reflecting by working outside the home?
Why do I, and millions of other mothers, choose to work full time?
I do it for the money, of course. Because while we could afford to live very modestly on my husband’s income alone, things like vacations and vegetables would be a little more difficult to come by. I understand that staying home is often a financial sacrifice for some families, but for my family (and many like mine) it would amount to fiscal suicide.
But more than that, I do it for me.
I pry my daughter’s arms off my neck each morning at day care because I know that she will delight in the company of her peers once I leave - just as I will relish the opportunity to converse with other adults throughout the day. I forgo the time to make homemade cookies in lieu of drafting marketing plans that showcase my talents and creativity. Because I write a stellar email campaign and I suck at baking pastries. I take off my pajama pants each morning and pick out cute shoes that tell the world I have excellent taste!
I continue to work full time because my career offers my family and me opportunities that being a stay at home mom could not. And these opportunities say just as much about my values as my unconditional love for my children does.
I love to travel. I crave a challenge. And I thrive on new experiences whether I’m alone or with my kids. I continue to work full time in order to hang on to those personal priorities.
Why do you work full time?