A Summer To Remember

Welcome to the Tuesday guest blog. Every Tuesday "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life.

By Susan Lovett Payton

I've worked for the same company for 13½ years -- full time for seven years and part- time (4 days a week) for the last 6½. While here, I've gone from being single and carefree to married with two children and a dog.

Recently, my husband's work hours have gotten longer and travel has become a job requirement. I started thinking I needed to get back on balance. My initial plan was to leave my job at the end of the school year. I would spend a lazy summer with the kids, hang out at the pool, go to the beach, visit friends and family. No pressures, no homework, just serious downtime. Then in the fall, I would look for a part-time position with flexible hours that doesn't require a subway ride across Eastern Montgomery County and the District. (Does this exist?)

I wanted to stop sending the kids to before and after care. I'd like to be available to help them with their homework while their lessons are still fresh in their minds. Maybe I'd even sign them up for piano lessons or karate after school.

In April of this year, I went to my boss with what the military terms a "Bene Sug" or Beneficial Suggestion. My great idea was to hire my talented assistant to replace me, and give me a severance package. The premise was the company could save money by getting one full-time person (my assistant) for the same money they were currently paying for one part-time person (me). Made perfect sense to me. The answer came back: No.

I was trying to last a couple more weeks before submitting my resignation, thinking I could save up a few dollars to tide me over for the summer. ... And then my assistant resigned to move to the West Coast with her fiancé.

Now, I thought, EVERTHING was ruined. So I thought about it, discussed it with my husband, discussed it with my sister, thought about it some more, and finally came up with what I thought would be an even better plan.

Plan B would be to stay at the company through the transition of hiring for both my position and my assistant's. I proposed working as a contractor, 10-4 every day, one of those days from home, at an hourly wage akin to that of a Capitol Hill lawyer. This time, the answer came back: Yes. What else could they do?

Next Friday is my last day. I've saved up a few dollars for some summer fun, and I've been alternately thinking Bring On the Summer and What Am I going to Do in September? Beneath the anxiety, though, something tells me I'm doing the right thing. Our family will be better off. This summer will create a memory for the kids and me, and even though my husband will still be working, things will be less stressful for us all. He's looking forward to joining us for a few weeks of our Summer to Remember, and maybe getting in nine holes a couple of times during the week, without his usual worries about getting home late.

Susan Lovett Payton lives in Silver Spring, Md., with her husband and two children. She worked for McGraw Hill as a production manager, and now consults.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  July 18, 2006; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Guest Blogs
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Comments

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Wow, good for you for having the guts to figure out what you want, then ask your company to provide it. I've never been that brave.

Hope you are enjoying your "lazy" summer.

Posted by: NewSAHM | July 18, 2006 7:32 AM

I hope everything works out for you and you can find another job in the fall.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 18, 2006 8:12 AM

It is very stressful when both parents work full time. I'm not saying it can't be done, because it is done. I have worked full time, part time and not at all, with 3 children. I've discovered that there is a value to not working and staying home with the children that can't be calculated in dollars. For my family, it provides peace of mind, a relaxed life, and the ability to socialize -- when both my husband and I were working full time, we spent our weekends having family time, and not doing much else. Now that I'm home, we eat dinner usually 2-3 times a week with neighbors and family who live close by, and it's not a big deal. When I was working, I always felt like my "to do" list was looming if I wasn't actively working on checking things off, and I was tallying the hours I'd had with my kids vs. the hours I'd been at work. I absolutely miss the stimulation and challenges of working, but am learning to seek them elsewhere through volunteer work.

Posted by: SAHM NC | July 18, 2006 8:13 AM

Ah, yes, Susan, the Country Club life. Sounds like you finally get to rest in the nice and cumfi bed you made for yourself.

My daughter is selling Bon-Bons for a charity fundraiser. I'm sending her over to your house.

It's OK to watch Oprah, really! I understand she admitted to not being gay...

Looking forward to reading your posts over the summer.

Posted by: Father of 4 | July 18, 2006 8:38 AM

The guest writer today and her 'summer to remember' makes me wonder just how many people reading this blog have that kind of lifestyle, where they could take off an entire season from work without putting their family in an economic crisis. I certainly don't know that any of my friends or neighbors could do that.

Posted by: John | July 18, 2006 8:47 AM

I second the first comment..it takes a firm sense of yourself to get the respect you received. I think it shows that no matter what you do in life, self respect and a firm sense of what works for YOU and YOUR family, lead to happier lives. I have stayed at home for the past five years, and look forward to returning to the workforce in the fall, part-time. For us, part-time work is just perfect.

Posted by: NC Mom | July 18, 2006 9:06 AM

Congratulations on finding a balance that keeps you happy. I wish you well.

This may be a slightly different topic (since you had been working part-time), but I've gotten to know more than a few moms that worked full time during the earlier years, and eased up once the kids got to be around 7-10. It was at those ages (of homework, more peer influence, etc...) that they wanted to be more available.

I just think it's really interesting how people come up with all different configurations--keeping in mind that some people just don't have these options at all.

Posted by: Another thought... | July 18, 2006 9:08 AM

Re: "The guest writer today and her 'summer to remember' makes me wonder just how many people reading this blog have that kind of lifestyle..."

Let the class warfare begin! "Rich" people aren't the enemy. "Rich" people who get richer by stepping on your neck? They're the enemy...

Posted by: Anonymous | July 18, 2006 9:10 AM

Define "rich". "Rich" in what?

Posted by: Mom | July 18, 2006 9:16 AM

I challenge everyone to be nice today. Guest writers deserve an extra measure of civility ...

Let's talk about some of the interesting issues Susan raises, like how and when women can get the flexibility they request at work, and why employers do and do not grant these requests.

Posted by: VAMom | July 18, 2006 9:16 AM

Susan, I echo the congratulations that others have given you. More people should use the approach that you used. We should not be afraid to approach HR or executive management to propose working arrangements that are good for us and our family ***and good for the company***. And, if they say "no" at first, propose something else.

I think that too often we bemoan the big bad company and the big bad managers without giving them a chance to make us happy.

You've set a great example for your fellow co-workers and your kids!

Posted by: Proud Papa | July 18, 2006 9:25 AM

>>Let's talk about some of the interesting issues Susan raises, like how and when women can get the flexibility they request at work, and why employers do and do not grant these requests.>>

I don't understand why the company would pay her severance for quitting. It's true that they could (presumably) pay the assistant less, but why would she get the money? That's the only part that confuses me. Having a job where you can negotiate to come back on a consulting basis is great, and one way to create a "mommy track" for yourself if your company does not normally offer part-time or flexible schedules for employees.

Posted by: Aworkingmom | July 18, 2006 9:25 AM

"My great idea was to hire my talented assistant to replace me, and give me a severance package."

Your boss said no?...What did you think your boss would say? I'm surprised that you didn't get fired for this crazy idea. Nobody gets severance for quitting.

Anyways, have fun this summer and best of luck with the job search.

Posted by: CH | July 18, 2006 9:30 AM

"I don't understand why the company would pay her severance for quitting."

My company pays severance when one quits if one gives ample notice (read more than 2 weeks) and trains their replacement. We bill by the hour this save the company thousands of dollars in billing if we stay on and get our replacement up to speed. It is a wonderful incentive for not dropping a bomb on the company and leaving our positions empty and therefore not generating revenue. It is at all of our advantage to generate as much revenue as possible for the company since we receive profit sharing payments.

Posted by: mommyworks | July 18, 2006 9:34 AM

"My great idea was to hire my talented assistant to replace me, and give me a severance package."

That's how negotiations work. Come in asking for something comfy and have them negotiate you back.

If you are a strong employee (13.5 years with the same company) they don't "[fire you] for this crazy idea". They chuckle and ask for a more serious proposal.

Posted by: Proud Papa | July 18, 2006 9:35 AM

"Your boss said no?...What did you think your boss would say? I'm surprised that you didn't get fired for this crazy idea. Nobody gets severance for quitting."

I think Susan pulled a gutsy move! Of course she didn't get fired. There's no reason to fire a good employee who makes a request of HR and her bosses. She played with the "big boys" as someone responding to the Linda Hirshman post said women "must do" if they want to succeed. And she won!

They said No. She came back with a second suggestion . . . and they said Yes! Maybe if she'd tried the second suggestion the first time, they would have said No. Very clever on her part.

Go Susan! Have a great summer.

Posted by: Tanger | July 18, 2006 9:40 AM

It's always interesting to me when companies jump on "hiring" back an employee as a consultant or independent contractor. I think more and more companies will turn to this as an option, which can provide more options for working parents. The downside -- no benefits. As a freelance writer (essentially an independent contractor), the flexibility is great, the money is OK, the "benefits" (none) stink!

http://punditmom1.blogspot.com

Posted by: PunditMom | July 18, 2006 9:41 AM

Susan, what sort of work do you do? It would be interesting to know because in some fields and with some skills it's much easier to work part-time and to get a new job than in others.

Posted by: Tanger | July 18, 2006 9:44 AM

Good for you for stepping out on faith and realizing that you could make such a big change! While everyone may not be able to follow your path, we can be inspired to think about our own lifestyles and choices so that we can give our families the time and attention they deserve. Every situation, every family is different and it's all about finding the right balance for you and yours.

Congratulations and bring on the summer....

Posted by: slg | July 18, 2006 9:46 AM

[Define "rich"]
Mom
If you got a toilet to sit on and flush you are "rich",
If you don't, you are "Poor"

Now, if you want to talk about character, that's different.

Posted by: Father of 4 | July 18, 2006 9:54 AM

Susan, congratulations on identifying what you really wanted to do, planning to make that a possibility (I'm sure there was a lot more to the preparation than you could address in 300 words!), and then figuring out a path to make that happen. In the back of my mind, I am already thinking about cutting back more in another 8-10 years, when my kids hit their teen years and the universe of possibly scary things gets a lot bigger, and trying to figure out the things we need to do now to make that a possibility (i.e., save more!). I hope you write in again to let us know how things turn out.

Posted by: Laura | July 18, 2006 9:55 AM

"If you got a toilet to sit on and flush you are "rich","

And if you have 4 flushing toilets, you are LOADED.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 18, 2006 10:01 AM

Haha! I like that one....

Posted by: Mom | July 18, 2006 10:05 AM

....but what if thats just in the summer home?

Posted by: Mom | July 18, 2006 10:07 AM

I don't know that I would have made the choice you did. If you were part-time to start with why not just cut your hours back more, and hang onto what seems like a pretty good job?

It's way easier to cut a good deal with an employer you have many years of service with than to do it while trying to get hired anew.

Being a high paid consultant is a great thing, but you do spend time marketing for your next task, and you train for the future on your own nickle/time.

I guess I wonder why an extended summer leave wouldn't have been another option your could have explored.

I say this as someone who worked part-time for years and came back in full-time. I sure like the senority and extra weeks of vacation that all those years entitled me to.

Posted by: RoseG | July 18, 2006 10:07 AM

I admire the fact that you know what you want and go for it. Hats off to you.

Posted by: Rive Gauche | July 18, 2006 10:08 AM

Susan's bio says she is a production manager. I do very similar work and have been able to do contract freelance work for a few years, which allowed me a more flexible schedule and to take time off (several weeks) between jobs. I think with Susan's 14 years of experience with a "name" company, she will be fine come September, but I urge her to start looking soon and I warn her that, if she wants part-time and benefits, she may not get anything near the salary you had a M-H. There ARE jobs out there; I see listings every day.

It IS a risk to quit a job with no job lined up. And I have to say, Susan may be in a situation where, if the hiring company has a choice, they will hire a younger worker with less experience at a lower rate.

Posted by: Mel | July 18, 2006 10:14 AM

>>Recently, my husband's work hours have gotten longer and travel has become a job requirement. I started thinking I needed to get back on balance.>>

OK, this is interesting. SHE needs to get back on balance? He has the job that is making it more difficult to manage family life. And his employer gets away with it because the wife quits.

>>I wanted to stop sending the kids to before and after care. I'd like to be available to help them with their homework while their lessons are still fresh in their minds. Maybe I'd even sign them up for piano lessons or karate after school.>>

I'd be interested to hear about situations that are reversed--where a dad gives up his regular job to spend this kind of time with school-age kids.

Posted by: Arlmom | July 18, 2006 10:29 AM

"The guest writer today and her 'summer to remember' makes me wonder just how many people reading this blog have that kind of lifestyle, where they could take off an entire season from work without putting their family in an economic crisis. I certainly don't know that any of my friends or neighbors could do that."

I have this kind of lifestyle, and we're not in an economic crisis. But before I get labeled some sort of priveleged snob, I think I should probably mention that I live in a mid-sized town in the Pacific Northwest, where it is very common to take several years off or have one or both parents work part-time. I'm not using the "if it's too expensive there, just move" argument...just pointing out that not all areas of the country have the kind of cost of living issues that the DC area does, and that lifestyles are much more relaxed outside of most major metropolitan areas.

And that segues me to a question from yesterday - why is a SAHM, much less a SAHM from Oregon, reading a work/family blog in the Washington Post? Well...I read Mommy Wars and went looking for more information on Leslie, and found this. Since I did have a career outside the home for 13 years, 8 of them as a mom, before I became a SAHM, and plan to return to work in some part-time capacity when my youngest is in 1st grade, the topic is interesting to me.

Posted by: momof4 | July 18, 2006 10:34 AM

Arlmom - My husband quit his job to support me as I took on a new job four months after our son was born. He stayed home until our son was almost one. I believe their unique bond is as a result of their time together.

Posted by: fabworkingmom | July 18, 2006 10:34 AM

momof4 - why did you decide to SAH after 8 years working full time as a mom. Did you feel it was more beneficial to be with your kids when they got older than when they were younger?

Posted by: fabworkingmom | July 18, 2006 10:36 AM

Hmmmm....Doesn't all these working moms seeking ways to get back to the home contradict the state of bliss and joy you want SAHM's to think you have?

Posted by: Gina | July 18, 2006 10:38 AM

To Father of 4: Why are you always so negative? Your first post was just mean and offered nothing of value to the guest writer. Jealous?

Posted by: Silver Spring | July 18, 2006 10:45 AM

Man, I just did NOT know I was 1)loaded and 2) enjoying a lifestyle few people have. I am not the only mom around in my neighborhood! I did sleep in until 8:15 (the kids were at a sleepover). It was nice. I don't work ALL SUMMER LONG, but at least I am still pulling in a paycheck. I get paid yearround. And Susan, I agree with the poster who said you must start looking sooner rather than later. And I hope you really do enjoy the summer home with your kids. But make sure you get some time alone. Being with kids 24/7 can make you crazy, even if they are the best kids in the world.

To fabworkingmom: I think it is beneficial to stay home as they get older. Little kids can't get into a huge amount of trouble and there are many more options for aftercare or beforecare or whatevercare. Big kids can do all KINDS of things to get into trouble, and by age 13 they are balking at any kind of care. My best friend at age 14 used to take her boyfriend home after school and play grown-up games in her parents bed between the hours of 3:30 and 5:00.

Posted by: parttimer | July 18, 2006 10:54 AM

And not to sound like I am insane, I DO look forward to the school year starting and actually do a lot of planning during the summer.

Posted by: parttimer again | July 18, 2006 10:58 AM

Fabworkingmom said "My husband quit his job to support me as I took on a new job four months after our son was born. He stayed home until our son was almost one."

Mine also stayed home a few months after I went back after maternity leave. I think a lot more dads are doing this. But how many are giving up a career five or ten years down the road? This is what I'm struggling with now--when you have more kids, and are farther along in your career and have more responsibilities at work, how do you keep the balance, or decide who gets to focus on their career for a while and who gets to stay with the kids? Several women at my office with jr high and high school-aged kids have cut back or left because they want to be home in the afternoons, participate in the activities, etc. But I don't know ANY dads who have done this. And it seems like, in the blogger's case, that the fact that her husband's job got more demanding was one of the things that pushed her over the edge into actually quitting. The family may be more balanced, but what do you do if each parent wants keep their careers?

Posted by: Arlmom | July 18, 2006 11:00 AM

All last summer (and spring and early fall) I was home taking a long maternity leave and it was bliss. Good for Susan for making a choice and sticking with it and have fun on your "Summer to Remember."

Posted by: FamilyTime | July 18, 2006 11:04 AM

Silver Spring,

I've been reading Susan's posts for some time now and I've always liked what she had to say.

When I say Looking forward to reading your posts over the summer" I didn't realize I was being so mean. I apologize. I just figured that every thread could use a Bon-Bon/Oprah wisecrack.

And yes, I'm a little jealous.

Posted by: Father of 4 | July 18, 2006 11:04 AM

Gina, does that mean every time a SAHM mom seeks employment, she is contradicting a state of bliss that she wants WOHM moms to think she has?

I don't even understand your point.

Look, people go from staying at home to working outside the home and back again. What works for one family will not work for another and may not even work for that same family down the line.

I cannot believe that some people are already coming out to say that what this guest blogger did was wrong, should have been done differently, she shouldn't even have asked her company for what she wanted, she shouldn't have changed her work b/c of her husband's job, etc.

For now, she's happy. She shared how she got there. If you can learn something, great. If not, that's ok, too. No need for negativity.

Can't we all just get along?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 18, 2006 11:05 AM

Good luck to Susan finding balance. Writers/editors/web designers can build a freelance career if they have a fallback (working spouse or trust fund). Certainly if I had married a more responsible person, I would have been able to build a decent freelance writing/editing career (I still pick up the occassional freelance job for extra income because I am able tow ork from home).

I know other moms who have been successful in such ventures. Again, much luck to Susan in this pursuit; she seems to be a creative problem solver. WDC is a great area for freelancing in publishing.

Posted by: single western mom | July 18, 2006 11:08 AM

'To Father of 4: Why are you always so negative? Your first post was just mean and offered nothing of value to the guest writer. Jealous?'

he was being funny, very funny. lighten up!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 18, 2006 11:11 AM

i agree with the idea of working while the children are small & then cutting back when they get older. there are more activities they can be involved in when they are older, they are less comfortable with a "babysitter" when they are older and they can get into more trouble. now, i was lucky to have an excellent day care provider when he was an infant and his elementary school has a very good after school program so right now that is not an issue. it may be in another 3 or 4 years and i need to think this through. bravo to our guest today for thinking it through and actually acting on it.

Posted by: quark | July 18, 2006 11:15 AM

I keep waiting with baited breath for someone to throw out that old line, "You need to really THINK about being a SAHM/quitting your job/taking time off, since fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce."

The thing is, just because "50 percent of all marriages end in divorce" doesn't mean MY marriage has a 50 percent chance of ending in divorce. That's known in social science methodology as the ecological fallacy -- generalizing from the specific to the general, or the general to the specific, without controlling for other factors. (Here's another example -- if 30 percent of the residents of my hometown are African American, it does not necessarily follow that 30 percent of the residents of my household will be African-American. Actually we all are!)

So here's what I pulled up --
YOUR CHANCES OF DIVORCE MAY BE MUCH LOWER THAN YOU THINK

[Taken from Barbara Whitehead and David Popenoe's The State of Our Unions (2004). Prepared at Rutgers University for the National Marriage Project. The full text of the study is available here.]

By now almost everyone has heard that the national divorce rate is close to 50% of all marriages. This is true, but the rate must be interpreted with caution and several important caveats. For many people, the actual chances of divorce are far below 50/50.

The background characteristics of people entering a marriage have major implications for their risk of divorce. Here are some percentage point decreases in the risk of divorce or separation during the first ten years of marriage, according to various personal and social factors: [a]
Factors

Percent Decrease

in Risk of Divorce
Annual income over $50,000 (vs. under $25,000) -30
Having a baby seven months or more after marriage (vs. before marriage) -24
Marrying over 25 years of age (vs. under 18) -24
Own family of origin intact (vs. divorced parents) -14
Religious affiliation (vs. none) -14
Some college (vs. high-school dropout) -13

So I'm going to rest secure in my current decision to be a SAHM, and tell the rest of you with your silly 50 percent statistic to go away. And please stop attacking this poor columnist today for doing what she thinks is best for her family.

Posted by: Since YOu Asked . . | July 18, 2006 11:17 AM

To Father of 4: It wasn't the bon bon statement that got me - it was the Country Club life. Apology accepted. Oprah part I got. Jealous - aren't we all a little. I am a nurse so there is never a chance to work from home but there is always work so I never have to worry about being unemployed.

Posted by: Silver Spring | July 18, 2006 11:17 AM

"The premise was the company could save money by getting one full-time person (my assistant) for the same money they were currently paying for one part-time person (me). Made perfect sense to me."

The company would save money if the assistant was doing more work full time than you were part time. But, then the assistant would not be doing equal work for equal pay. I'm surprised this made sense to you. When you are ready to go back to work, do you really want to replace someone at their salary but actually be required to work more than the person you are replacing?

If this example were about a part-time male employee who was replaced by a full-time female employee, I think there would be quite an uproar on this blog.

I actually admire that you found a way to be home. I hope that your future also works out well.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 18, 2006 11:21 AM

To Silver Spring: You still don't get it

Posted by: Anonymous | July 18, 2006 12:06 PM

Makes sense to me that an assistant would make less money upon her promotion b/c she is less experienced. How is that lesser pay for equal work?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 18, 2006 12:24 PM

"why did you decide to SAH after 8 years working full time as a mom. Did you feel it was more beneficial to be with your kids when they got older than when they were younger?"

No, the reason it worked out like this in my situation was because of a divorce and remarriage. I was the main and often sole wage earner in my first marriage (father of my older children). When I remarried, the plan was to work until our first child together was born and pay off debt, and it worked out well for us.

I don't think it's any more important to have a parent at home when the children are school aged/teens than it is when they're babies/toddlers/preschoolers, even though I totally agree that the demands and pressures just get bigger as children get older. I just think there are different reasons for being home/physically available to older children and younger children.

Ideally, I hope to work part-time when my younger children are in school so that I am always available to them when they're not in school. I realize that it might not work out this way, but I hope that it will.

Posted by: momof4 | July 18, 2006 12:31 PM

"Makes sense to me that an assistant would make less money upon her promotion b/c she is less experienced. How is that lesser pay for equal work?"

I understand your point but in this case the company would be paying the same money to the full-timer. This arrangement would supposedly save the company money. The only way that I see the company saving money by paying the same amount would be if the full-timer would also be doing other work that the company would no longer be paying for.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 18, 2006 12:41 PM

Here are some percentage point decreases in the risk of divorce or separation during the first ten years of marriage, according to various personal and social factors: [a]
Factors

Percent Decrease

in Risk of Divorce
Annual income over $50,000 (vs. under $25,000) -30
Having a baby seven months or more after marriage (vs. before marriage) -24
Marrying over 25 years of age (vs. under 18) -24
Own family of origin intact (vs. divorced parents) -14
Religious affiliation (vs. none) -14
Some college (vs. high-school dropout) -13


YAHOO!!! I've got a negative 119% change of divorce.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 18, 2006 12:53 PM

I posted a couple of weeks back as SAHM, but I'll use my "real" name now. Good for Susan for negotiating to get what she wanted. Why on earth do we need to criticize what she asked for in the first place - it may not be what we would have asked for, but is that really the point? The point is she negotiated, she got something that works. Also, do we really need to scrutinize her relationship with her husband? She only had 300 words, people. No one I know would make any such decision that would impact their family so profoundly in a vacuum. She may have discussed, at great length, the impact of her husband's career and her career on their family, and decided between the two of them what would work best for the family. Why do we always have to assume that because the woman decides to stay home that her husband is automatically some sort of neanderthal who wants to keep "his woman" down? If the woman staying at home is what the FAMILY decides works for the FAMILY's benefit, why do some of us feel the need to condemn either the husband or wife because they were too private to outline the specific details of their decision? I say GREAT to Susan and her family for having the courage to hold their decision and method for achieving what they wanted up to public scrutiny like this. I hope your summer is everything you wanted.

Posted by: FishyGirl | July 18, 2006 1:01 PM

Why can't someone ask a question without being accused of "attacking" or "criticizing"? Even if the blogger doesn't want to respond, others can. It's supposed to be a discussion, isn't it? That implies more than one point of view. Sheesh.

Posted by: Arlmom | July 18, 2006 1:06 PM

"YAHOO!!! I've got a negative 119% change of divorce."

That sounds like it would make you a polygamist. 119% - you're married to one person, and also another person's arm?

"My great idea was to hire my talented assistant to replace me, and give me a severance package. The premise was the company could save money by getting one full-time person (my assistant) for the same money they were currently paying for one part-time person (me)."

If the full-timer took longer than Susan to do the same work, then it's not an efficient use of the company's money (they could hire someone better qualified who takes less time to do Susan's work). If, however, the assistant took the same time to do Susan's work, and then used the remaining time to do other tasks, the company would have been paying her less (per hour) for *more* work. That doesn't make sense at all.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 18, 2006 1:14 PM

What is the Divorce Probability reduction Data coming from?

According to the: Wishful Happines and Tangential Team However Employed For Understanding Cultural Kicks, (you make up the Acronym) the following is PROVEN to reduce one's chance of divorce by the following percentages:

Golf Handicap 75% -20%
Short Commute (ie 30 and still playing -25%

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics...

Posted by: Fo3 | July 18, 2006 1:23 PM

I got cut off there....hopefully will clarify:

Golf Handicap 70% -20%
She: Great T***s and He Glutes -20%
She likes sports -10%
He likes decorating -10%
Golf Handicap >30 and still playing -20%
Sex more than once a week -100%

Posted by: Fo3 | July 18, 2006 1:30 PM

Since you asked, so you were waiting to get in the ring and fight it out with someone today? So now you are trying to bait people into the ring with you? Aren't you comfortable with your decision to stay home? If people give you flack, why not tell them to bug off?

I think it is everyone's oen decision to stay home. As long as you are happy and it works for you, great. What I don't get is people's jealousy with things. If you are not happy, be proactive to change your situation. No offense, your ranting sounds childish. I am sure there are things about being a SAHM that make you happy. Why not focus on those things and bring them into the discussion?

FWIW, I am a mid-30s woman with no kids. (Am married.) Want kids, but am not quite ready. When my friends bring over their kids, sometimes I feel a pang of jealousy, but then remind myself, I am making the choice to wait. So, why be jealous. I have the power to change the situation and am too gunshy to pull the trigger. Why waste time being jealous?

Posted by: Thought | July 18, 2006 1:32 PM

I wasn't criticizing what Susan asked for. Just trying to point out that what "made sense to her" doesn't make sense to everyone. She just seemed surprised that the answer was "no".

Posted by: to fishygirl | July 18, 2006 1:32 PM

Arlmom: I quit my job so my wife could continue on her career path. To advance in her job she had to be able to travel and move...things we could not do with both of us working. She has excelled in her job and we now are easily able to make ends meet. It has given me good times with the boys, although, I do get frustrated at times since I'm alone with the kids for at times 5-days a week while she travels. I'll probably get a part-time job when all the kids are old enough to be in school, but for now it's fun and rewarding.

Posted by: Tillman | July 18, 2006 1:53 PM

Double Reverse Negative Psychology

Funny thing, If you are waiting to have children because you have thought the issues through throughly, discussed it with your spouse, are saving money to build some security and or pay down those student loans, and are in agreement to wait until you are both ready. You sound readier than we were....

Play a round of golf with you spouse to see how they handle stress - very enlightening grasshopper. BLAAANNNNGGGG.

Posted by: Fo3 | July 18, 2006 2:01 PM

Here's a suggestion. Since the title of this feature is "On Balance: Washingtonpost.com's WORK-LIFE Blog Categories" THEN DON'T POST IF YOU DON'T WORK. That will put an end to all of the judgements, arguments, jeolousy, and the SAHM v. Working Parent fight.

Work-Life balance is an important topic and this blog always turns into a big cat fight after the first few posts about whether or not a parent should have a career while having a family. This blog is supposed to discuss how to balance both.

No offense SAHPs, but I could care less about your advice. You have already made your decision on how to deal with work-life balance and I fully respect that. It's obvious that most of the working people on this blog have decided to continue working and are seeking advice on balance.

Posted by: MeAgain | July 18, 2006 2:04 PM

"No offense SAHPs, but I could care less about your advice. You have already made your decision on how to deal with work-life balance and I fully respect that. It's obvious that most of the working people on this blog have decided to continue working and are seeking advice on balance."

No offense taken. But I question your judgement to dismiss input from the SAH side of the tracks, dispute your assertion on the puropose of the blog, and question your accuracy regarding the desires of "most of the working people" on this blog.

Respectfully, everybody has their right to an opinion, unfortunately for some, there is only one set of facts.

You cant make me leave nyah nyah.


Posted by: Fo3 | July 18, 2006 2:16 PM

Best of luck Susan. It is often difficult to take the plunge and make that drastic change in one's life without some time for reflection and perspective. Many of us envy you for being able to give yourself some space (and time) to decide your next career move. I hope that you do enjoy your summer.

Posted by: dcdesigner | July 18, 2006 2:17 PM

MeAgain: If you're working, why are you on a blog anyway...hmmm.

Posted by: Tillman | July 18, 2006 2:17 PM

"MeAgain: If you're working, why are you on a blog anyway...hmmm"

Let's just call it MY work-life balance.

Posted by: MeAgain | July 18, 2006 2:24 PM

MeAgain: You should check out the "About OnBalance" link - you will find that the opinions and experience of SAHPs are very much, theoretically, welcome here. Just because some parents are SAHPs right now doesn't mean they never worked outside the home. It most likely means that SOMEONE in their family is working outside the home, and any SAHP is affected by, and has input in, to work/life balance discussions. Just because someone isn't working outside the home right now doesn't mean they never did and never will be again in the future. It certainly doesn't mean that they've lost their intellect and ability to offer points of view that will benefit someone who is working outside the home today. It is precisely this kind of divisiveness and dismissal of the other side that frequently prevents us as a group of parents from working effectively to make changes in society that will benefit all of us.

Posted by: FishyGirl | July 18, 2006 2:34 PM

I work in management and you would not believe how many people who've quit come back in six months or a year wanting their old job back. Usually the answer is no; there are always eager job-seekers willing to step into the role you vacate. Quitting is so...final. Sometimes people just need some time off and a hug.

Posted by: Texas mom | July 18, 2006 2:36 PM

Well said FishyGirl

Posted by: Dlyn | July 18, 2006 2:37 PM

SAHPs can offer a different view of the good, the bad and the ugly of staying home than those of us who work full time have. Maybe they even can help someone decide whether to stay home or not with their brutally honest commentary.

Posted by: DC | July 18, 2006 2:44 PM

Just trying to end the fighting and get some "real" discussion. Sometimes you have to isolate the two waring sides to get any progress. And no, I have no advice to offer on the dilemma.

Posted by: MeAgain | July 18, 2006 2:44 PM

How about all the regular participants agree to some blog rules, like:
-- always post with a name and the same name
-- don't say anything to anyone else you wouldn't say to their face
-- ignore all the posts that are intentionally meant to get everyone upset

I think that would lead to a lot better conversations.

And, in general, I still find this blog a helpful space to think through issues related to my own work/family/balance choices. Especially on days when there is not a lot of hate and ugliness (days like yesterday, I just stop reading after a while).

Posted by: VAMom | July 18, 2006 2:45 PM

I believe that the origin of this blog was Leslie's book, which is titled:

Mommy Wars: Stay-at-Home and Career Moms Face Off on Their Choices, Their Lives, Their Families

Clearly, SAHMs and WOHMs are both the source of material and the target audience.

I am interested in input from all points of view (except hostile ones). I can see myself choosing different options at different points in my parenting and career cycles.

Posted by: Another DC Mom | July 18, 2006 2:47 PM

Congrats Susan!

My parents were both WOHPs. My mom has been going back and forth between home and work as financial and other needs required for my whole life. Maybe she didn't climb as far as she might have, but she had an interesting variety of experiences, as well as the other benefits of working.

A perk for my Dad was that she was able to provide benefits and a steady income for them both when he decided to start his own business.

Life is long and our needs change. It's great to be flexible so we can meet them.

Posted by: WiSAHM | July 18, 2006 2:51 PM

Thank you to VAmom and Another DC mom. After reading yesterday's discussion, I wasn't sure if I could come back here.

And just in case any of you who were wondering, I only started posting under my current name because I unthinkingly used "SAHM" before, and there are just too many of us - it was getting confusing. I wasn't trying to hide behind anything, and would never say anything online that I wouldn't say IRL. How I write online is pretty much how I sound when I talk, too.

Posted by: FishyGirl | July 18, 2006 2:54 PM

I post with "SS" because there's another Stacey who posts and it may be confusing. I hope the SAHPs will post too - I was a SAHM for 3 years before I went back to school and work and I see both sides of the debate. I think both views are valid and important - and I think it's more likely than not that most of us will wear both hats at one time or another. It's all shades of gray people and not so black and white.

I don't live anywhere near the DC area so a lot of what is posted isn't relevant to me. Does that mean I'll quit reading and/or posting? No. A lot of what is posted is confrontational, judgmental and mean. I won't quit reading because of that either, but I don't read those posts. After a few weeks of participation, I know the ones who post just to get a reaction and simply don't respond to those. It's like anything else - take what you want and can use from the discussion and ignore the rest. For the most part, it's an enjoyable, intelligent discussion of the issues we all face in the effort to balance work and family - whether the choice is ultimately to work or to be home.

Posted by: SS | July 18, 2006 3:04 PM

>>Arlmom: I quit my job so my wife could continue on her career path. To advance in her job she had to be able to travel and move...things we could not do with both of us working.>>

Thanks, Tillman. It's the travel more than the hours that seems hard--that is specifically what today's guest writer referenced and it's what I'm dealing with in my family (for either of us to move ahead we will need to travel more, but with little kids we can't both be traveling. Well, with ANY kids we can't BOTH be traveling). Who steps off the career path for a while? It's a tough question for a dual-career couple. If you don't mind, what factors went into the decision?

Posted by: Arlmom | July 18, 2006 3:12 PM

Oh, don't listen to me again, she wanted me off the board but i'm still here.

Posted by: scarry | July 18, 2006 3:15 PM

Thank you to those who realize that this is a space for stay-at-home AND working parents (as well as for those planning on having a family and interested in working through the issues of balance ahead of time, as much as possible). Aside from the fact that many SAHMs have worked previously and plan to work again in the future, I think it's important to realize that staying home and raising kids IS work, even though you don't get paid for it. Balancing work and life also means balancing time for family and time for oneself and one's spouse, outside of the kids.

Posted by: Ingrid | July 18, 2006 3:18 PM

Here, Here MeAgain!

I love debate but if it always comes back to SAHPs vs. WP and it's a "work-life" blog, something isn't working.

Posted by: NFONWM | July 18, 2006 3:36 PM

don't read their comments is you don't like them.

Posted by: scarry | July 18, 2006 3:44 PM

Ingrid says - Balancing work and life also means balancing time for family and time for oneself and one's spouse, outside of the kids.

Not to devalue the work of SAHMs but balancing time between your spouse and your kids does not fall into the category of work-life balance. Managing the balance between a career and your life (which includes kids and spouse) is infinitely more difficult than managing the balance between your spouse and kids. The latter is completely under your control while the former depends on the benevolence of your employer.

Posted by: fabworkingmom | July 18, 2006 3:44 PM

Many of the blog topics, how to find a good babysitter, over the top room moms, etc. affect all parents. The issues aren't just those related to dealing with your employer.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | July 18, 2006 3:53 PM

I guess when I consider work-life balance, I'm thinking longer term. I have worked both outside the home and at home, and will almost certainly work again.

Speaking rhetorically, you could say we SAHMs were completely off balance, having gone all the way to one end of the spectrum.

Posted by: WiSAHM | July 18, 2006 4:05 PM

"Not to devalue the work of SAHMs but balancing time between your spouse and your kids does not fall into the category of work-life balance. Managing the balance between a career and your life (which includes kids and spouse) is infinitely more difficult than managing the balance between your spouse and kids. The latter is completely under your control while the former depends on the benevolence of your employer."

Not entirely. The balance between myself, my spouse, and my kids depends not just on me, but, as you put it, the benevolence of my husband's employer, and other things, like the demands and care of our parents and if alive grandparents, demands of school schedules, everyone's relative health, and a host of other outside forces. That's life. You can't really say what's harder unless you've done both. I have - and I personally felt I had it easier when I was a working parent, but this is the situation that is right for our family right now, and it can't be changed. You say you don't devalue the work of SAHPs, but saying something is harder IS placing a value judgment. I don't devalue your opinion just because you are working right now, and I really wish you wouldn't devalue mine. We both have things to offer each other.

Posted by: FishyGirl | July 18, 2006 4:07 PM

Didn't say one was harder than the other, fabworkingmom, just that both career-family and self-family require balance. And what if you are self-employed? That doesn't depend on a benevolent employer...(Besides, is anyone else, be they family or colleagues, ever "completely" under "our control?" I tend to think not.) I guess my point was that stay-at-home moms might do a lot of work: planning lessons, projects, homeschooling sometimes, volunteering, housework, financial work etc., and balancing these things with family fun time, time for oneself/one's own pursuits, and time for one's spouse is difficult too. A different balancing act than going to an office everyday, but it qualifies as balancing work and family nonetheless. (In my humble opinion.)

Posted by: Ingrid | July 18, 2006 4:11 PM

Just want to say, this blog is obviously open to anyone who wants to weigh in on the subject of "balancing" work and family. We have a lot of working moms, working dads, stay-at-home moms & dads, grandmothers, grandfathers, and people without children of all ages. No one needs to be a parent or an employee to have an interesting opinion.

Posted by: Leslie | July 18, 2006 4:24 PM

"Well said FishyGirl"

And yet yesterday you were all for limiting who can participate.

Posted by: To Dlyn | July 18, 2006 4:31 PM

Fishygirl:

"The balance between myself, my spouse, and my kids depends not just on me, but, as you put it, the benevolence of my husband's employer, and other things, like the demands and care of our parents and if alive grandparents, demands of school schedules, everyone's relative health, and a host of other outside forces. That's life. You can't really say what's harder unless you've done both. I have - and I personally felt I had it easier when I was a working parent, but this is the situation that is right for our family right now, and it can't be changed. "

I'm asking this out of curiosity only....

When you were a working parent, did you have help with housework, yardwork, etc., or did you do all of the things you do now as a SAHM? I ask simply because I have also done both, and I have never "gotten" how people feel that it's "harder" to be a SAHP than a WOHP. I realize it *totally* doesn't matter which is harder and that individual families have different situations....but when there's xyz to be done and 24 hours in a day to do it and then you take 9-10 hours a day out of the equation for work/commute....how can that possibly be easier?

I agree with fabworkingmom, actually. I don't think it's difficult to balance my personal life and family responsibilities without an employer involved, because everything I do is ultimately my choice and that of my husband...not an outside force. Yes, there are responsibilities outside of my immediate family - helping my aging parents & other family members to name one - but those are ethical choices that I make and aren't made for me by a boss.


Posted by: momof4 | July 18, 2006 4:32 PM

I just saw this and couldn't help but post it, considering the topic of this blog:

Posted by: Stacey | July 18, 2006 4:36 PM

Darn! It didn't link to:
www.gawker.com/news/upload/2006/07/mothers060717_3_560.jpg

Posted by: Stacey | July 18, 2006 4:37 PM

I still maintain that I'm not devaluing SAHM's work in anyway and value their input to this discuss because it helps us all. The point I was trying to make is that on top of all of life's demands working mom's have work to contend with as well. As a working mom I have to balance time with my son, my husband, my other family members, friends, church activities etc on top of the time I spend in the office. It's just the fact that there are only 24 hours in the day (as momof4 said) and we have to get it all done in that time.

Posted by: fabworkingmom | July 18, 2006 4:40 PM

How about we start a movement to add about 4 hours to each day? Then maybe I could get everything done ...

It wasn't directed at me, but we do not have household help and we both work 40+ hour weeks, have three children in three schools, and community and social obligations, although not extended family issues. I did have help cleaning every other week but our cleaning person left and we didn't replace her - we ended up cleaning anyway and we got a really big dog that makes it a lot harder to have someone come in the house when we're not there. What I need is someone to help with the really big dog ... We're really organized, otherwise I don't think we could do what we do without outside help.

Posted by: SS | July 18, 2006 4:45 PM

momof4,

I have never been SAHM, only WOHM, and I never got the "It's harder to stay home" remark either. One of my co-workers who has been both explained it to me. While working, she said no to a lot of things, whether it was school volunteering, costume making, cupcake baking, community volunteering, additional household tasks, tec. While she was SAHM, she said yes to everything asked of her in addition to putting extra pressure on herself to have the cleanest house, best meals (no cooking shortcuts). She also believed, since she was home and her husband worked hard so she could be home, that she wanted his non-work hours to be relaxing for him. She did not want him to help her with housework and errands because she wanted the children to be able to spend the evenings with their dad. She is a classic type-A. She found SAHM to be harder because she took on too much, albeit willingly.

For myself, it would be easier to SAHM because I have developed a high tolerance for dirt, don't care what the school uber-moms think of my store-bought cookies, and can easily say no to things I don't care to do.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 18, 2006 4:48 PM

Store bought cookies vs cook-from-scratch

noooooooooooooooooooooooo!

I am a pillsbury doughboy guy.

Posted by: Fo3 | July 18, 2006 5:01 PM

To the person who calls themselves To Dlyn,

Remember I was only commenting on people who seem to be reading this blog only for the sole reason of instigating trouble. I'm all for anyone who has, wants to, or has a viable interest in family affairs. I am not for some who are only interested in devaluing anyone who has made their best choices for themselves. It seems when it gets "hot in here" all the trolls attack.

Posted by: From Dlyn | July 18, 2006 5:05 PM

Leslie wrote:
"Just want to say, this blog is obviously open to anyone who wants to weigh in on the subject of "balancing" work and family. We have a lot of working moms, working dads, stay-at-home moms & dads, grandmothers, grandfathers, and people without children of all ages. No one needs to be a parent or an employee to have an interesting opinion."

Leslie,
So I gather that you find the comments during the past few days helpful and constructive? What's the purpose of the opening blog if it always comes down to everybody judging each others choices without understanding their personal situation. It doesn't seem like anyone even reads the opening statement after the 5th response. Maybe you should just start the blog each day like this:

Ding Ding... In this corner we have the SAHMs and in this corner we have the Working Parents. Lets get ready to rumble!!!

Posted by: MeAgain | July 18, 2006 5:14 PM

No, I never had any help when I was working. An example of something small that made it easier: When I needed to, say, pick up the dry cleaning, I could run in quickly by myself on the way to or from work, or during my lunch time. Now, I have to shlep 3 kids in car seats, do all of the associated buckling/unbuckling and trying to make sure they don't get killed in parking lots or cause any damage to anyone else just to get the dry cleaning (or go to the post office to mail a package, or the grocery store to pick up something needed for dinner, or whatever). This all adds up. DH can't do most of this because his commute is so long that he just isn't around when places are open. If I needed to go to the doctor I didn't have to worry about finding a babysitter for my 3 kids because they were already in child care. The house was easier to keep up with because the kids, the primary makers of mess in this house, weren't here to make the messes all day. Dirty dishes weren't generated because we weren't here. Family and friends somehow didn't need the support they do now, and there wasn't the emotional blackmail and drama that happens now if I say no to things, because it was understood before that I had to work, I was busy with my own concerns (somehow I'm not supposed to have my own concerns now that I'm home). Finally, the intellectual and social stimulation and satisfaction that I got from my job made it much easier for me to deal with my kids (my oldest is 6 1/2) just being kids - I am far more likely to lose my temper with them now than I was then. These are by no means all the reasons it was easier on me before, but they are valid examples of why.

Posted by: FishyGirl | July 18, 2006 5:22 PM

To MeAgain - I can't speak for Leslie, but if you ignore the trolls there are some thoughtful comments mixed in on all the blogs.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | July 18, 2006 5:25 PM

Thanks FG your comments really help me empathize with my wife's feelings about going back to work vs staying at home.

Posted by: Fo3 | July 18, 2006 5:28 PM

me again is a troll

Posted by: Anonymous | July 18, 2006 5:36 PM

To MeAgain,

This is Leslie's blog. If you want to set the rules, you need to get your own blog.

Posted by: WiSAHM | July 18, 2006 5:52 PM

Kudos to whoever pointed out that the husband was the one whose career change required "balancing".

But hey, he pays the bills. So it makes sense that the wannabe worker who just does pin money jobs would have to compensate. Not that it bothers her, of course. She gets to laze away on hubby's dime.

And yo, everyone posts in admiration. How nice to have someone else pay the bills and have nothing to do but spend his money.

Posted by: Cal | July 18, 2006 6:36 PM

To WiSAHM,

*This is Leslie's blog. If you want to set the rules, you need to get your own blog.*

If this is how you feel, you should also address the comment to VaMOM and not just MeAgain. Actually, it should be addressed to anyone who has expressed an opinion about rules for the blog.


Posted by: bjt | July 18, 2006 6:48 PM

I happen to agree about the husband needing balancing for his life. My husband took a 40% pay cut in order to avoid travel. We both have to work full time as a result, but we work 40-hour weeks and are able to be a family after work hours. I know many SAHM who are home because hubby travels and/or works incredibly long days. The kids are in bed by 8:00 and Dad doesn't even see them awake every day. I hear about parents of both sexes who try not to miss tucking the kids in bed and this is bizarre to me. It reminds me of the commercials that endorse families having dinner together. I thought this was a completely absurd advertisement because we always have dinner together. Now, between what I have seen myself and what I read on this blog, I understand why this commercial exists.

Posted by: bjt | July 18, 2006 7:00 PM

Having expressed my opinion about husbands/wives travelling and needing the other spouse to scale back work to accommodate their schedules, I will say that what Susan and her husband do is up to them. It wouldn't be what my husband and I would choose, but to each his own.

Posted by: bjt | July 18, 2006 7:03 PM

The hyperlink below is to an intersting article in the NYT about women vs men in scientific careers (science is one of the most sexist fields). It's an interview of a transsexual who has insight as a successful scientist as a woman and then a man.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/18/science/18conv.html

Posted by: Anonymous | July 18, 2006 7:55 PM

fishygirl

Very well said!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 18, 2006 10:58 PM

"Family and friends somehow didn't need the support they do now, and there wasn't the emotional blackmail and drama that happens now if I say no to things"

I have a co-worker who is the oldest of 4 who each have been taking off to help elderly parent with appointments, house cleaning and such. She is considering early retirement and would like to spend more time with the parent (other than just running back and forth to appointments) as well as pursue other interests. She has just about decided to delay retirement because the younger siblings are already insinuating that she could handle ALL daytime activites with the parent since she will be retired. She is not selfish and actually takes off more than anyone to help out. It's just that she wants to share the responsibilites of her parent and not take on everything by herself. So, it seems easier to keep working and juggling responsibilities than to stop and deal with all the resulting family drama.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 19, 2006 7:01 AM

isi "Me Again" -- The way I see the blog is that it's fascinating (and sometimes frightening) to read what's actually inside people's heads, for better or worse.

The debates are rarely as simple as WM vs. SAHMs. I find most of the comments smart and thoughtful and complex(often the ones that criticize me, too).

I'm not denying the vitriol. And sometimes I find one or two posters can derail the conversation in negative and unproductive ways. But more often than not it's interesting (as well as troubling) to see how much anger and judgment exist inside people's heads when it comes to motherhood.

Posted by: Leslie | July 19, 2006 7:43 AM

Regarding whether the guest writer of the day is taking time off at her husband's expense, the way I read it his increased hours and travel are unrelated. It is because of these increased obligations that home life became more stressful, so by cutting back for a few months she can pick up more of what he would otherwise do at home and life will be more relaxing than if she did not make these arrangements. We do not know whether he would have been able to balance his life more, or wanted to if it affected his ability to be promoted in the future.

I am an occasional viewer of this blog, and have posted once or twice. (Not as "Sam" because what I've wanted to call myself in the past has depended on the subject matter. Will stick to this name if I post in the future, though). I agree that all viewpoints should be represented. For example, if we're talking about changes to the workplace to make balancing family and work easier, it's helpful to know how those without children feel about it, so we will know how well it would go over. But it doesn't need to degenerate into childless bloggers sarcastically stating that only people with children have value. What really bothers me is how off-topic the discussion gets after just a few posts. It seems that there are people out there just itching for a fight. For example, today someone anticipated being told that she should work so she can support herself in the event of divorce and addressed that comment even though no one had brought it up. Yes, someone named Cal brought it up last week, but no mention of it had been made at the time the post regarding chances of divorce was posted this time. If you want to fight for the sake of fighting, go to ivillage or something and get in one of their chat rooms. People like me, who get on this blog to try to get some ideas on how to make life easier, will stop reading it if it ends up being just anger and bitterness day after day. Not that those of you who enjoy that type of thing would miss the rest of us. . . . .

Posted by: Sam | July 19, 2006 7:47 AM

I find it unfortunate that most companies will not even consider the concept of extended leave or sabbaticals. Since graduating from College, I have only able to step away from the full-time workforce twice, both times for maternity leave. Being able to step away from the stenuous demands of my "on demand" job for a couple of months was quite rejuvinating. I came back to work more focused and energized. My co-workers even commented that the time off did me some good. My ideas were more creative and innovative and I seemed to have more dynamic energy during my day in the office. It seems like a minor inconvienience for a larger company to allow their employees to take a sabbatical. (This can be unpaid of course, after all I never got to take paid maternity leave with either of my pregnancies.) Especially when an employee has devoted 10+ years to the institution. The company may find that they have a more productive and innovative workforce, and less turn-over. It would be a far better alternative to losing 10+ years of experience with the company.

Posted by: dcdesigner | July 19, 2006 9:00 AM

There was an article in Washington Lawyer recently about sabbaticals. Apparently a number of firms allow lengthy, albeit unpaid, sabbaticals. I know that the firm I used to work for would let you take up to 9 months' unpaid leave for any reason, in addition to a months' paid vacation and three months' paid maternity leave. I do not know what their paternity leave policy was. I only remember two people taking advantage of the sabbatical option during my five years there (and it was a large firm). One woman I know took 7 months off to be with her daughter before she started pre-school, and someone else took 9 months off to work on a novel.

Posted by: Sam | July 19, 2006 9:48 AM

Well, I'm Susan's husband and this decision she made came after many long discussions. I support her decision and I'm looking forward to the lifestyle change we will be making as well.

Posted by: rich | July 22, 2006 2:25 AM

Why does the conversation always have to go back to the battle of the sexes? Susan did not say that her husband's career was so overwhelmingly important that she was being forced to give up her own career to stabalize the family. This is clearly a woman who is capable of identifying what she wants and going after it. And yet still the comments about "why the woman? why not the dads? where are the dads?" come up. When are we going to really start respecting each woman and the choices she makes regarding her children and her goals without questioning the integrity behind her husband, her family and her own decision-making abilities?

Posted by: KCS | August 25, 2006 7:02 PM

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