What About Moms Who Want to Work?

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 Send me your original, unpublished entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life.

By Stephanie Himel-Nelson

In one Guest Blog last year, Erin Armendinger wrote compellingly about her choice to put family before her career in At Your Funeral No One Reads Your Resume. Because of her difficulty in carrying a pregnancy, Ms. Armendinger discovered early what many working women do not understand until after they give birth. To quote the Johnson & Johnson commercials: "Having a baby changes everything."

I agree with that. But I take issue with other parts of what Ms. Armendinger had to say:

So many discussions about combining children and a career only present the 'work' half of work/life balance. In all, I think older working moms give many young, impressionable women the idea that work/life balance means nannies, travel away from home only 50 percent of the time and working only 6-8 hours on the weekends.

Maybe that is the message some young women are getting, but it's not the message I get. I hope it's not the message I give. There is a comfortable middle ground between stay-at-home mom and full-time-workaholic mom. I simply don't agree that all working moms have to sacrifice their careers to raise their families. I realize that I am incredibly lucky to be able to "choose" to work, but for me work is what keeps my life balanced.

At 34, I'm not sure if I qualify as an "older working mom." But I am a mom, a lawyer, and a litigator. I love my job. Like Ms. Armendinger, I wanted to focus on my career before beginning a family. Like Ms. Armendinger, I faced infertility, miscarriages and two high risk pregnancies.

Becoming a mother also made me realize that my family is more important than anything else. So, after my first child, I struggled with the decision to remain a full-time working mom. My husband and I left the D.C. area in search of a slower pace and more balance. Still, when we had our second child, I struggled with my career decision all over again. Ultimately, I decided to keep working in the same capacity.

It was incredibly hard to return to full-time work three months after each of my sons were born. I kept in mind some wise advice given to me by a female mentor. She warned me that being a working mom would be hard and that I would be overwhelmed and tempted to quit. But she asked me to give it at least three months of working full time before I made any decisions. Then she told me, "When you do make a decision about work, don't feel guilty. What's best for you is best for your family." She was right. It took some time, but I am now happy to work full-time outside of the home.

I am a better parent, a better role model, and a better person because I work outside of the home. I know that I am more patient with my husband and my children when I am not with them every waking moment. I know that I am better able to handle the exhaustion and stresses of parenthood when I have an intellectual and creative outlet that doesn't involve Play-Doh and crayons. This may not be the case for every woman, but it is for many women I know. Not all of us are conflicted about the decision to work. Lest the flaming hordes accuse me of being one of the unrealistic "older working moms" to which Ms. Armendinger referred, let me assure you that I don't have a nanny, I rarely work on the weekends, and I am home for dinner almost every evening. Yes, there are times when I am exhausted and overwhelmed. Am I always perfectly confident about my decision to work full-time? Of course I'm not. When my husband is out of town, the baby won't sleep, and I have to be up at 6 a.m. to prepare for a 9 a.m. court appearance I wonder what on earth I'm doing to myself. But it's not always like that. In fact, my life is rarely that chaotic.

The message I've received from "older working moms" is to decide what balance means to me. With time and a lot of reflection, I've realized that my balance and my fulfillment come from being a mom and from being a lawyer. I've found that kids and career are not mutually exclusive choices.

Stephanie M. Himel-Nelson is a former resident of Northern Virginia and currently lives in Chesapeake, Va. She is an attorney at Vandeventer Black, LLP in Norfolk. She writes a blog about parenthood called Lawyer Mama.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  January 9, 2007; 7:53 PM ET  | Category:  Guest Blogs
Previous: The Sandwich Generation Searches for Balance | Next: Can Freedom and Kids Co-Exist?


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Comments

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First!

Posted by: First Comment | January 9, 2007 7:44 AM

Yes- work-childcare duties are a tough balance, especially to those moms who don't enjoy such fun and exciting careers but need the money to pay bills. But Kudos to you for at least taking care of your own kids. I am tired of getting lectured by yuppie moms who preen about their 'progressiveness' when in fact they are only able to enjoy their self-indulgent lifestyle because they have surrendered their duties as mother to a hired hand.

Posted by: observer | January 9, 2007 7:49 AM

I am sure this piece would have been just as interesting and informative if it was structured as an essay about this woman's life and not as an attack on another woman's life. There is no need for this piece to quote the other in such a derogatory manner.

What this piece has to say could stand on its own and does not need to put others down to make the point.

Posted by: Why Attack? | January 9, 2007 7:56 AM

Thank you! It's nice to hear that I'm not the only full-time working mom who loves what she does, at work and at home. I'm a better person (mom, wife, lawyer, daughter, sister, friend) - because of the choices I've made.

Posted by: happy working mom | January 9, 2007 8:01 AM

Everyone always says that family is more important than everything else, but then all of their actions are contrary to that statement. If your kids are more important than anything else, why would you have a non-family member raise them? You wouldn't have a junior attorney prepare YOUR brief? If your kids are so important why isn't it important that you be there when they get off the bus. Oh, that's right, being a lawyer makes you happy (that I don't get either, but its another blog, another day) and you being happy makes you a better mother and wife. So are the people who don't like their jobs not as good at wifing and parenting as you. As long as you have everything YOU want, everyone around you will be happy. Where's the compromise, the sacrifice part?

Posted by: Don't get it. | January 9, 2007 8:04 AM

Yes- work-childcare duties are a tough balance, especially to those moms who don't enjoy such fun and exciting careers but need the money to pay bills

What they don't have colleges where you come from?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 8:09 AM

Thank you. I'm a 30 year old mom who works as a federal agent. I love my husband, my son, and my family is a beacon for me, but. . .I need to work. The money, retirement plan, and health benefits alone made my decision a no-brainer, but I simply need the mental stimulation outside of the home. I grew up as an overachiever and couldn't imagine staying at home full-time. As much joy as I get to reading to my son and playing with him, I still need to read about politics, engage in adult conversations, and be engaged in the world beyond my house. I've had to cut back on some things I'd like to do, such as long work trips, but I rarely miss a dinner or work on weekends. It is possible to take care of your family while still taking care of yourself. My family gets a better mom because I'm not bitter about forgoing a life of my own.

As ever, I wonder why no one ever foists this debate on men. If they aren't up at night having cold sweats about choosing family or career, why are women?

Posted by: Cop mom | January 9, 2007 8:09 AM

First, I didn't see you attacking the other writer. I saw you stating how YOU feel versus how the other writer said you feel. I heartily agree with you that to work or not is a personal decision and there is no "right" answer. I also continue to wonder (especially after reading the first essay and then some of your comments) why some women still paint such an all-or-nothing and right-versus-wrong picture. As a group, women continue to be our own worst enemy.

Posted by: Katie | January 9, 2007 8:10 AM

I actually like this blog very much. I don't see where it is attacking anyone. It just presents the other point of view that all working mothers aren't conflicted/upset/guilt-ridden and for that I say HOORAY!

Posted by: scarry | January 9, 2007 8:13 AM

Wow - so negative so early today! Just a quick note and then I am not going to stick around so people can attack each other.

LawyerMama - thank you for your view today - I hope that most people will take it the way you meant it - I am happy that you have found a good balance (most of the time) in a career where that can be difficult, but not impossible. I too, work in a firm, where most parents (male and female) are home for dinner every night.

To Don't Get It - What do you think Junior Associates are for? They are the ones that do most of the work in preparing a brief. And yes, some of us love being a lawyer (and loved law school).

Posted by: Betty | January 9, 2007 8:15 AM

Cop mom - SAHMs can also read about politics, have discussions with other adults and be engaged in the world outside the home. Why does this stereo type of the SAHM as intellectually static and a martyr persist?

Posted by: moxiemom | January 9, 2007 8:17 AM

thanks for your article! I am one of the moms that has to work (I'm widowed), but feel that my children are better off because I do. This issue is always made to seem black and white, but it isn't. The issue isn't whether you choose to work or not, for me the issue was choosing work that allowed me to also be a good mom. For my entire career (my children are now in their late teens) I have chosen to work closer to home, making less money so I could have better hours and benefits. did I miss being there when the bus came? sure. did I miss much else? not really. are my children happy? will they be successful? I hope so, and don't think they have less chance of doing so just because I happened to work while they were growing up?

Posted by: thanks | January 9, 2007 8:18 AM

Thank you for your guest blog - I could have written it myself (substituting journalist for lawyer, of course!)

I also went back to work full-time when my daughter was 3 months old, and it really worked for us too. Sure, the trick is finding the balance between work and family time, getting everyone out the door and back in again, cooking and cleaning, and so forth but it's possible and people need to be reminded of that.

Like you, we're normal professional people who worked relatively normal business hours (9-10 hrs a day) but rarely worked after hours or on the weekends. That was the time we devoted to each other and to our daughter, and it sounds silly and trite, but if you know that's family time you do try to maximize it and I always felt like we did.

I was proud to return to work to a job that most people didn't return to because of the pressure - I thought it was healthy for all of us because I could be happy in my own right and that made me a more positive influence in my family life.

Posted by: ViennaMom | January 9, 2007 8:19 AM

Well, I was going to be a little snarky here, but I am tired of that here on this blog. My question then is, for those for whom it is a choice, do you ever wish you didn't work full-time? Has part-time work ever appealed?

I come from a little different perspective in that while I agree that working is vital in some way to most women, I found that full-time work just pulled me too thin in so many ways. My patience was thinner instead of greater. I felt badly about not being home after school with my kid and not being able to play with her before it got dark everyday. But, that's me. I also suspect that as she get's older I will want to ramp up hours. But, for now, I am much happier.

Posted by: Mom FT/Worker PT | January 9, 2007 8:19 AM

To Don't Get It,

The whole "letting strangers raise your kids argument" loses a bit of substance when you think that the vast majority of kids will spend most of their time in a classroom being influenced by their teachers. Unless you would like to tar teachers from pre-school on as a malevolent force destroying the planet, relax a little. Should we all home school? Maybe redevelop an agrarian economy where kids stay on the farm under familial control in perpetuity? Being a good or bad parent involves far more than being home when your child comes home from school.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 8:21 AM

Mom FT/Worker PT

your name alone is snarky. So if you work full time you aren't a mom full time?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 8:24 AM

No, that is not what I wrote. Once you give birth, or become a parent you are 100% a parent. It is the worker part that is either PT/FT/or SAH. And this applies to Moms or Dads.

Posted by: Mom FT/Worker PT | January 9, 2007 8:31 AM

Moxie mom--not once did I accuse SAHM of being intellectually vapid, but nice try to turn the argument. But, since you'd like me to take the gloves off, did your husband ever decide he loved his kids enough to stay at home? Do you have many conversations about nuclear proliferation, the uses of intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war, Supreme Court decisions, etc.? Do you find yourself reading Le Monde? Have discussions with friends about linguistic developments or dialects? Do you think most stay at home parents do?

Posted by: Cop mom | January 9, 2007 8:31 AM

for younger children and babies, re time: quantity = quality

Posted by: truth | January 9, 2007 8:32 AM

When I was a kid, I was fully attuned to the notion that "if Mom's not happy, NO ONE is happy." It's true. Why force a mom into a role she doesn't want? Some women are perfectly happy being a SAHM, but if a woman is not, she shouldn't be criticized for pursuing a career as well.

Lots of lawyers on this board. So tempted to hijack and ask for advice--!! Must...resist...!!

Posted by: Mona | January 9, 2007 8:33 AM

"Don't get it" really doesn't get it. To say that being a working mom involves no sacrifice and compromise is completely ridiculous. Every second of your day involves compromise and sacrifice. I am so tired of self-righteous women criticizing women who have say they are happy working moms. In their world, I suppose only women whose families would otherwise be on welfare should ever leave their children to work and they should be miserable about it. We should all just go to college to improve our brains so we can meet husbands and be able to hold up our end of the conversation because once we have kids our career needs to go in the trash. I am a lawyer. I work part-time time doing public interest law. I sacrifice in terms of a lower salary, less benefits and less job mobility because of my part-time schedule. I get up at 5:50am to be at work at 7:30 so I can get home early to have time with my kids for homework and carpools. My family is better off financially because I work and I, too, am a better mother and wife because I spend 7 hours a day in an office doing challenging, interest work. I have not turned over the raising of my children to someone else. The author of this article, myself and all of my working mother friends are the ones raising their children. We are doing the homework with them, attending the soccer games, arranging the playdates, taking them to the parties, doing the science projects. We do it with them when we get home from work. And, we are the ones they talk to when their friends are upsetting them at school or they are excited because they got 30/30 on the math quiz. There are plenty of working moms who are lucky enough to have work life balance and there should be more. And, we all make sacrifices to do it. I have one girlfriend who gets to work at 6:30 so she can meet the school bus at 3; her husband goes into work late to put the kids on the bus. They both work full-time and are lucky to have employers that allow them these schedules. But, part-time arrangements and flexible schedules are still too hard to come by for many parents. My hat is off to the author of this article for making the best choices for her family and finding that balance that works for them.

Posted by: Happy working mom | January 9, 2007 8:36 AM

Those are some really broad strokes you are painting SAH's with. You might want to get to know a few more SAH parents before making such assumptions.

Posted by: to cop mom | January 9, 2007 8:36 AM

Have discussions with friends about linguistic developments or dialects?

What would such a discussion entail? What is a linguistic development? Seriously?

Posted by: s | January 9, 2007 8:39 AM

Cop mom...you had it, then you threw it all away.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 8:40 AM

I think that I should change my name to FT Worker/FT Mom... for I do the role of both mother and father and work. My compromise was to find a less intense job for a couple years in an industry that I want to be in, at a place that is a couple blocks from my apartment and my childs school. Perhaps my lack of passion for what I do shows up in my work, but I am able to work normal hours and visit her at lunch time most days. I am one of those non-creative types that needs teachers to do fun and educational things with my child. Reading the same book 20 times drives me crazy, as does talking about potty training and such at the park with other moms. I like to have that division in my parent/working lives.

Posted by: single mom | January 9, 2007 8:41 AM

Have discussions with friends about linguistic developments or dialects?

What would such a discussion entail? What is a linguistic development? Seriously?

Posted by: s | January 9, 2007 8:43 AM

When my first was 7 and 1/2 months old, I went back to work part time because we had to have the money--trust me, there was nothing to cut back. Thank heavens I did, because I needed it for sanity. It helped me A LOT and probably made me a better mother. I had a very short commute (maybe 15 minutes on a bad day) and just worked 3 to 4 hours 4 days a week. The woman who cared for her also had a child the same age, so the babies got to have some interaction (well, slobbering all over each other), which was good for my child. She got over her separation anxiety much faster than I did! I was really torn between loving my job and the outlet it gave me and leaving my child. It was easier with the second one--I knew that it was healthy for all of us to have some time away from each other--even when my baby was 8 months old! When I look back, the times I was home full time were the most difficult for me. I love working part time now that my kids are in school full time. It gives me time alone to do whatever I want (like sit here on this blog in my p.j's drinking coffee!) for a little while each day, but still take care of obligations at home and work. And I get to see friends! Now that I have spent my free time (well, I did throw a load of wash in before I sat down) I had better get moving!

Posted by: jane | January 9, 2007 8:44 AM

Cop mom - SAHMs can also read about politics, have discussions with other adults and be engaged in the world outside the home. Why does this stereo type of the SAHM as intellectually static and a martyr persist?

Posted by: moxiemom | January 9, 2007 08:17 AM

Geez - I have to agree with moxiemom. Are women at home just sitting around reciting "This little piggy" all day? I love politics and adult conversation, however the politics discussions I have are usually not with my co-workers but with my friends and family. Sometimes politics in the office place is obnoxious.

And here is Cop mom 's reply:

"Moxie mom--not once did I accuse SAHM of being intellectually vapid, but nice try to turn the argument. But, since you'd like me to take the gloves off, did your husband ever decide he loved his kids enough to stay at home? Do you have many conversations about nuclear proliferation, the uses of intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war, Supreme Court decisions, etc.? Do you find yourself reading Le Monde? Have discussions with friends about linguistic developments or dialects? Do you think most stay at home parents do?"

Do you think working women have corner on intellectual discussion? You don't even realize how degrading you are being.

Again, I have all those discussions outside the work place - why is that so hard to believe? Your capacity to discuss politics and world events probably has less to do with your work then with your interest in the topics and intelligence, which should help you realize how wrong you are.

Also, is Le Monde some kind of benchmark on intelligent discussion? Give me break.

Posted by: cmac | January 9, 2007 8:45 AM

Great article! I'm a formerly high achieving professional woman, turned into a 19 year SAHM. I fully support you in your desire to work outside the home. I think we each need to find our own balance, and not bash others who choose to walk a different path.

Posted by: experienced mom | January 9, 2007 8:49 AM

My wife and I have four children and we both work full time. I am a lawyer and she is a registered dietician. Though we need both incomes to support our modest lifestyle (household income of less than $150,000 per year) my wife has often commented that she would still work even if we could get by on one. She loves her work and it is important that she fulfill that part of her. I support her in that though I'd also support her if she decided to stay at home.

I think it's great that some parents, mothers and fathers, have the option of staying at home. I would be far more likely to do it than my wife but I too would probably need some professional outlet.

One thing I find interesting is that the well educated, type A women who are now so passionately embracing stay at home motherhood are the same type that a generation ago were so passionately eschewing it. Why is that?

Posted by: An Dliodoir | January 9, 2007 8:50 AM

HURRAY for an essay that expresses how many of us working moms feel! I would be infinitely grumpy if I didn't work. I know because I tried it already. Work keeps my energy in balance and I'm able to be happier and more sane.

Posted by: Another Working Mom | January 9, 2007 8:54 AM

HURRAY for an essay that expresses how many of us working moms feel! I would be infinitely grumpy if I didn't work. I know because I tried it already. Work keeps my energy in balance and I'm able to be happier and more sane.

Posted by: Another Working Mom | January 9, 2007 8:57 AM

I agree with cmac. My discussion of politics and reading of periodicals is done mostly at home with friends and family. Maybe cop mom's friends outside of work are a bunch of illiterate heathens so she can't imagine people doing such things away from the office.

Posted by: Chris | January 9, 2007 9:00 AM

cmac--you are entirely right that I want to talk about those topics because I am interested in them and found a job where I could talk about them. This isn't about intelligence--it's about finding outlets for what makes you feel like an engaged person. Again, I never said not having those conversations made someone dumb. I merely said I needed to work to find the environment where I could have those conversations.

s--linguistic developments would be the conversations where you discuss how languages relate to one another, how they have evolved, and how that might relate to historical/social issues. On a historical level, how Latin devleoped into romance languages and influenced German grammar would be an example. The USG focuses on finding arabic speakers, but we often also need to focus on what dialect is being used and where those dialects are spoken.

But, I noticed no one has yet raised the issue of when their husbands--who presumably love their kids--are going to decide to stay home and stop having someone else raise their kids.

Posted by: cop mom | January 9, 2007 9:00 AM

To cop mom: does your husband stay home and raise your children?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 9:04 AM

I think today's column is great, and the comments point to the importance of each woman, and for that matter, each family, determining the OPTIMAL way to achieve balance. Note that I did not say "ideal"...that doesn't exist.

I too love working and still feel that I am a good parent. Friends have decided to stay home full time, and that is the right decision for them. Everyday is not perfect, but we each have to figure out what is best for us. There is no one right solution.

And why is the only choice between working and staying home? How about families who change careers to achieve balance? How about families like ours who decided to have only one child in order to manage all that we wanted to do (including what our son enjoys and needs)? There are lots of ways to make life work.

Posted by: KrisD | January 9, 2007 9:04 AM

To January 9, 2007 09:04 AM:
Does yours?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 9:07 AM

I'm like An Dliodior, if my wife and I could afford to have one of us stay home, it would probably be me, unfortunately, my field is also the one with much more potential growth for income, the fortunate thing though, is that I work days and my wife works nights, so one of us is always at home with the kids.

Posted by: Chris | January 9, 2007 9:09 AM

I think that two things need to happen before men stay home with their children

1. we (as woman and men) need to raise a generation of sons that are comfortable in the parenting as well as bread winning role

2. As woman we need to fight hard for equal pay for equal work so that it becomes less of a financial decision in the family for the father to stay home (I'd say that in the majority of american families the male earns more).

I think what we have progressed a lot over the last 50 years, and I think we will progress even more in the next 25-50. Who knows maybe with the progression of science men will be able to carry the pregnancy

Posted by: single mom | January 9, 2007 9:09 AM

Would you be talking about vulgar Latin or popular Latin? My neighbor, currently a SAH parent, just yesterday was extolling the extreme variation between the two.

Posted by: to Cop mom | January 9, 2007 9:11 AM

Would you be talking about Vulgar Latin or Classical Latin? My neighbor, currently a SAH parent, just yesterday was extolling the extreme variation between the two.

Posted by: to Cop mom | January 9, 2007 9:11 AM

KrisD has a good point. I moved away from the city to find balance.

Posted by: scarry | January 9, 2007 9:12 AM

Would you be talking about Vulgar Latin or Popular Latin? My neighbor, currently a SAH parent, just yesterday was extolling the extreme variation between the two.

Posted by: to Cop mom | January 9, 2007 9:12 AM

Choose your priorities and stop whining. I also work for a law firm that allows mothers to work part-time if they wish. However, the childless women who can pull 16-hour days and travel at the drop of a hat are the ones promoted to partner. The part-timers can spend their half-days on the playground discussing sleep habits of their spawn. BOOORRRING!

Posted by: Childless by Choice | January 9, 2007 9:12 AM

To 09:04: Nope! But that isn't the point. Cop Mom is the one who made it an issue so I thought I would ask her.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 9:13 AM

I think that two things need to happen before men stay home with their children

1. we (as woman and men) need to raise a generation of sons that are comfortable in the parenting as well as bread winning role

2. As woman we need to fight hard for equal pay for equal work so that it becomes less of a financial decision in the family for the father to stay home (I'd say that in the majority of american families the male earns more).

I think what we have progressed a lot over the last 50 years, and I think we will progress even more in the next 25-50. Who knows maybe with the progression of science men will be able to carry the pregnancy

Posted by: single mom | January 9, 2007 9:13 AM

Great post that reminds us that not all working moms are frazzled and depleted. Every one of us feels this way on some days, but on average most working moms actually can attain balance. I didn't say 'perfect balance', but just good-enough balance. And that's the goal.

I feel fortunate to live a balanced life by working enough hours to maintain a meaningful career (about 30/week) and having lots of time with my kids (but not so much that I personally wouldn't be as appreciative of each moment). I love that my husband does exactly the same thing.

Thanks for speaking out for the reality of happiness and balance as a working mother.

Posted by: equal | January 9, 2007 9:14 AM

cop mom - I feel your pain on the outlet issue, but what you posted painted SAHM's unable or uninterested in finding an outlet for their particular interests. There are numerous ways to fulfill your intellectual needs as a SAHM - it takes work though - it is not built in like a workplace.

When I go to a party or an event and people (mostly women) are talking about decorating their homes, preschool, breast feeding - all things you would consider "mommy talk" I can't take it. However, I never assume that those conversations are the only interests these women have. You never know what people's interests, backgrounds and work experience is just by their SAH or Working status.

ASS U ME - well you know what it means.

Posted by: cmac | January 9, 2007 9:15 AM

Thank you so much for the positive comments. I know that I'm not alone out there as a Mom who enjoys working.

Mom FT/Worker PT had a question I wanted to address: "My question then is, for those for whom it is a choice, do you ever wish you didn't work full-time? Has part-time work ever appealed?"

Yes! I have considered working part-time more than once (so has my husband) and I think my law firm would be willing to let me if I asked. But I came down on the side of my career. My schedule usually isn't overly hectic and I don't feel like I'm being torn between work and home. Why fix what's not broken? Of course, things may change but for now this works for us.

Posted by: Stephanie Himel-Nelson | January 9, 2007 9:17 AM

To January 9, 2007 09:13 AM
I think she was being sarcastic. We keep fighting among women about staying at home or working, but dads love their families to and don't go through the same fight.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 9:17 AM

Yikes, cop mom - please don't pull out your gun! I wasn't "taking the gloves off" I was simply responding to your post from my perspective. I didn't mention antything about your life choices or anyone elses.

You said:

"I simply need the mental stimulation outside of the home. I grew up as an overachiever and couldn't imagine staying at home full-time. As much joy as I get to reading to my son and playing with him, I still need to read about politics, engage in adult conversations, and be engaged in the world beyond my house."

The implication of the above statement is that these things cannot be achieved while staying at home which is what I was responding to.

I didn't say anything about anyone loving their children enough to stay home or what I thought was appropriate for anyone else. The situation we have chosen works for us.

Actually we (my husband and I and my friends) do discuss the war, the middle east, Sudan and believe it or not I did read Le Monde online after Saddam was executed to get the French take on the situation (incroyable!). I listen to NPR, read the paper every morning, belong to a book club and I enjoy absolutely terrible reality t.v. I'm a real, regular, whole person not just a housewife wiping bottoms and floors.

As far as do most stay at home parents talk about these things? I've gotta be talking to someone don't I?

Posted by: moxiemom | January 9, 2007 9:19 AM

Great post that reminds us that not all working moms are frazzled and depleted. Every one of us feels this way on some days, but on average most working moms actually can attain balance. I didn't say 'perfect balance', but just good-enough balance. And that's the goal.

I feel fortunate to live a balanced life by working enough hours to maintain a meaningful career (about 30/week) and having lots of time with my kids (but not so much that I personally wouldn't be as appreciative of each moment). I love that my husband does exactly the same thing.

Thanks for speaking out for the reality of happiness and balance as a working mother.

Posted by: equal | January 9, 2007 9:20 AM

Amen LawyerMama - great blog and you've expressed very well what many of us who work and enjoy working feel. I went to law school when my two boys were three years and eighteen months - after being home for 3 years and after dad decided 2 kids were too much responsibility. I loved law school, love practicing law, and will never, ever be financially dependent on anyone again. My boys are now 13 and nearly 11 - they go to school and I'm home with the 11 year old (and his 4 year old sister) less than an hour after the 13 year old gets home. Unless school teachers are raising my kids, I'm doing it with equal participation from my husband. My three kids see a happy mom who enjoys her work, has a fulfilling career, contributes financially, and still is a mom who makes dinner, participates in the three schools, yes bakes cookies, yes makes costumes, and on good weekends, skis with them. We also clean our own house and go our own yardwork. Easy? Not always. Busy? Absolutely. Fun? You betcha. I wouldn't change a thing and on those days when balance seems unattainable, I go to bed and the next day is generally a little easier. But I never think I should quit my job and stay home. Never.

Posted by: Stacey | January 9, 2007 9:23 AM

she's baaack... I think CBC's name should be spawn as she is one (as are the rest of us)... so spawn, how ya been?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 9:25 AM

Cop mom:
"As ever, I wonder why no one ever foists this debate on men. If they aren't up at night having cold sweats about choosing family or career, why are women?"

Umm, many of us are -- it's just that many of us feel that our choices are more constrained. While the number of SAHDs is slowly increasing, it is still much more likely to meet a WOHM than a SAHD. Thus, for men the choice is often between being willing to work the 60+ hours/week that is necessary for career advancement or being willing to work the 40 hours/week that is more conducive to spending time with the family.

Posted by: A Dad | January 9, 2007 9:32 AM

"My husband and I left the D.C. area in search of a slower pace and more balance."

This thought has crossed my mind more times than I could count. I dream of moving to a sleepy New England town and working in an independent bookstore with wacky and eccentric locals... :)

The DC working culture is just ridiculous. I looked for MONTHS just for a job in my field that was 9-5 (I can't imagine finding a decent part time job). Everyone wants 8-6 +, evening funtions, etc...No one should work that much, nevermind those with kids. It's awful that "part time" is 7 hours/day.

I have never missed dinner and I don't work on weekends. I check my Blackberry once in the evening and I don't respond- I'm just seeing what I'm in for in the morning.

I work AT WORK. I parent at home. I don't tap away on my Blackberry while pushing my daughter in the swings on a Saturday morning (I see this every weekend and it makes me sad)

I think we largely do this to ourselves- we let our bosses and coworkers take over our lives. How many times have you told your kids to hold on while on the phone or computer?
that to your boss? Probably not- but it's important to set limits on that as well. THere's no need to be a slave to your boss if you work full time- or your child, as people seem to belive, when a SAHM.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 9:33 AM

*****What's best for you is best for your family.*****

Is this oft-quoted advice also true for husbands/fathers or is it only for wives/mothers? If husbands/fathers spend their time doing whatever makes them happy, are their wives and children automatically happy too?

Posted by: MBA Mom | January 9, 2007 9:33 AM

I love my job and it's very flexible. I'm able to work 6:30 to 2:30 and be home when the kids get home from school. When the kids became preteens, we decided we needed a parent at home full time, so my husband quit his job and is now a SAHD. There ARE dads out there willing to make the sacrifice!

Posted by: Working Mom/Stay at Home Dad | January 9, 2007 9:34 AM

I get tired of all these moms justifying that work makes them a better person. I think this argument is open to attack and also a tired one.

The real reason a lot of moms work today is to help support their families. Yes, I love my work but there is no way I could quit. We depend on my income. I'm fine with that. My husband makes a smidgen less than I do running his own restaurant. I provide health insurance to him and my son through my job.

How many families out there depend on moms who work? I wager more than not. The kind of society we live in today does not offer many women the "choice" of working or not. We could not afford the mortgage for our 1600 sq ft home in a non-expensive town in Ohio if I did not work.

Sometimes, it's not a choice but a necessity. I think the people who attack moms for "wanting" to work are living in as much of a dream world as those moms who natter on about how they have to work to be a full person or something. For most of us, it's a necessity.

At the same time, I would never want to be a SAHM. I enjoy working and have found my own balance by working from home full-time.

Posted by: Rebecca | January 9, 2007 9:36 AM

Stephanie, great working woman's topic.

Here are the words that popped out at me: "let me assure you that I don't have a nanny"

I'm not sure why you would put forth an effort to convince me that you don't have a nanny. Is there something you find undesirable about employing a nanny? I'm hoping that you didn't reach into your lawyer's bag of persuasive tricks and use the nanny example to try to impress us with the notion that you have no outside childcare arrangements.
I am curious as to who provides childcare for your 2 young boys while you are working. if you happen to visit your guest blog today, I would appreciate a little more insight on how the childcare thing fits into your life balance.

Posted by: Father of 4 | January 9, 2007 9:38 AM

to cmac and moxiemom:

My kudos to both of you. I wasn't able to find a group of people outside of work who shared my interests. I've met a lot of very nice people in my neighborhood who I would go to the ends of the earth to help and vice versa, but we don't share much in common about what we would choose to talk about in our free time. I'm thrilled that you both are able to live the lives you want to lead.

Not directly to you guys: I really enjoy doing things that people don't expect me to be able to do or talk about--and work gives that to me. I'm grateful to have a loving (working) husband who works hard with me to make our lives a workable balance. The comments about "husbands staying at home" is because I find this whole debate ludicrous. There is the expectation that if someone will stay home with the kids, it will be mom (please don't flame me SAHDs) and I wish we could turn this debate around from "moms: to work or not" to "parents: to work or not."

Posted by: cop mom | January 9, 2007 9:42 AM

You know, it strikes me that kids are kind of a red herring in this debate. They may force the issue, but it's really about work/life balance, period. I'm childless, and in fact recently took a reduction in pay for a job at a very small firm close to my house where the people are friendly and I'm home, unstressed, at 5:30. After that I walk my dogs, see friends, do yoga, volunteer at church, watch tv, cook fun meals - all things I love and have decided to prioritize over more hours, more money, more prestige. So far, so good!

Posted by: U street denizen | January 9, 2007 9:43 AM

LOVED this blog entry. I have two young children and returned to full time work outside of the home approximately three months after the birth of each child. I love being a mom and a wife and I love my career. Balancing it all is a great message to send to my daughter and to my son. My job is a career that I worked hard to build. I too am a lawyer. I work as the chief lobbyist and general counsel for a non-profit association. I love what I do. I also love raising my kids (which contrary to an early posters assumption is what my husband and I have been doing since the kids were born).

I am also lucky to have kids that are thriving, a wonderful husband, amazing preschool teachers, elementary school teachers and a great network of support. I also have switched off babysitting and playdates with neighborhood moms so that we can get alone time with our husbands. Although I still am searching for the holy grail (a reliable available babysitter for regular date nights with my husband). But that's another blog topic.
I will say it's definitely worth the effort to find someone to babysit on occasion--my sil in another state,a stay at home mom, e-mailed me recently to say that she was excited to be going on her first date with her husband without the kids in four years.
Anyway I haven't read all the responses--just wanted to say I appreciate reading about someone like me. We do exist and our family/work life balance works for our entire family and isn't that what counts?

Posted by: downtown mom | January 9, 2007 9:45 AM

The annoying thing about working people who assert that SAH parents can't make decent conversation often don't realize that most of the very same working people can't make decent conversation themselves. I've run into countless people who work and then collapse in front of the TV in the evening, watching mindless reality or game shows or the 200th showing of some middling film on cable. When I wasn't working I still had far more interests outside the home than most of the "working" people I came into contact with, few of whom even read the daily headlines or watched a real news show for more than 10 minutes a day. I often tried to discuss film or art exhibits or interesting current events only to get a blank look or a shrug of noninterest or typically "Oh, we're so busy! We haven't been to [a movie, concert, vacation spot other than Disney] in ages!" However, these people often knew all about what Nicole Kidman was up to or which celebrity was in rehab.

Please stop telling me that every person who has a job is therefore far more intellectually stimulated than people who are homemakers or SAH parents. Many people I know are made braindead by their jobs, or find very little that is "stimulating" about them.

Posted by: Morgan | January 9, 2007 9:49 AM

*****What's best for you is best for your family.*****

Is this oft-quoted advice also true for husbands/fathers or is it only for wives/mothers? If husbands/fathers spend their time doing whatever makes them happy, are their wives and children automatically happy too?

Posted by: MBA Mom | January 9, 2007 09:33 AM


Hah! Yeah, right. Chris Rock has a great joke about this that's only funny because it's true. Something about a husband dragging himself out of bed every morning, looking in the mirror and saying to himself, "You're [nothing]. Now, lets go out there today and make this [girl] happy."

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 9:50 AM

Quick question - not to be snarky; but how to stay at home parents impart on their children a work ethic, and the need to be independent and self sufficient?

Posted by: single mom | January 9, 2007 9:50 AM

Stephanie - loved the guest blog. I'm another mom who works because I want to. I don't know if this is going to devolve into the inevitable "why-have-kids-if-you-ain't-gonna-raise-'em" debacle, but I've never understood that question. I've met very few parents in my life that stay home with children 24/7, homeschooling, etc. Come to think of it, I haven't met any. In my tougher honest moments, I think I would be BAD at staying home full time and I'll wonder if maybe I shouldn't have had kids.......but then I think about how this is true for many, many, many men also - and no one would suggest they not have kids just because they don't want to quit their jobs and stay home full time. Small comfort, maybe, but the bigger comfort comes when I find other women like you who enjoy their jobs, and stay because they WANT to.

Posted by: SMF | January 9, 2007 9:51 AM

To U street denizen: Yes, yes, yes! This is all about a balanced and happy life for us parents (and non-parents). And along the way, our kids get to see us model a happy adulthood for them - a lovely gift to give them.

Way before my husband even met me, he did just what you are doing - and even worked part time in order to have a balanced and fun life. It was a simple life so that his salary met his expenses, but a rich life from a balance perspective. He would be posting his own cheer for your views, but he's home today with the kids (posting is far easier from my desk that when you're the 'home' parent!).

Posted by: equal | January 9, 2007 9:52 AM

"Quick question - not to be snarky; but how to stay at home parents impart on their children a work ethic, and the need to be independent and self sufficient?"

A few weeks back, there was a post from a WOHM who hated having to work and who was worried that she was sending her daughter the message that it would be impossible for her to stay home. I don't think SAHMs have a lock on sending their kids mixed messages.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 9, 2007 9:55 AM

Thank you for a piece that does give reassurance from the working side that it's feasible. I think the stressed-out side is often the one highlighted, and I appreciate the balance.

Posted by: planning... | January 9, 2007 9:56 AM

Teachers may be raising your kids. Talk to any teacher who is frustrated dealing with this generation of kids who are impolite, whiney, hyper, and a list of other wonderful traits that parents are teaching them. Teachers spend oodles of time correcting bad behavior that shouldn't be there. It has nothing to do with whether you stay home or not. It has everything to do with discipline and respect. You're passing your guilt onto them and they pass it through bad behavior in their classrooms. Just ask any teacher but they may not tell you the truth because most time, you're still thinking your kid is an angel.

Posted by: Rockville | January 9, 2007 9:57 AM

I agree that this was a good guest blog.

If making Partner or Vice President is in the cards for you, then it is, if it isn't that's alright as well.

It's nice to hear from someone who likes their job and their family! You can be my lawyer anytime.

Posted by: RoseG | January 9, 2007 9:58 AM

This SHAM's advice for my sons and daughters; get good grades, go to college, find a career that you like, pursue it, look for part time options if needed, always remain employable, as you never know what life will hand you. SAHs should be prepared to go back to work if illness, death or divorce take away the needed income.

Examples I set: tales of my work before I had children, discussions about friends who combine work and family successfully, and how a career is probably easier if you limit your family to fewer children than four. Also, what I liked and didn't like about working, talking about the employment I plan to pursue when the children are launched, and I do quite a bit of volunteer work, to be involved and give back to the community.

Posted by: experienced mom | January 9, 2007 10:03 AM

Rockville - although I agree there are a lot of badly behaved children, I do not agree it is the result of working parents' guilt. Of the children I know, those of the SAHPs are not the better behaved, in fact many of them are the worst. They believe the world revolves around them and the parents, from what I've seen, change the environment to meet the demands of the child. Children who I've seen in pre-school, including my own, learn social skills, respect for their teachers and other children, the ability to accept "no" on occasion, and that there are others whose needs may come ahead of their own sometimes. An added benefit is seeing and befriending children from a variety of cultures and family situations. Our state just initiated public pre-K because those children with pre-school experience do so much better once they start kindergarten. Badly behaved children can result from parents who fail to provide structure and discipline regardless of their work status and/or guilt.

Posted by: Stacey | January 9, 2007 10:04 AM

I wish we could turn this debate around from "moms: to work or not" to "parents: to work or not."

Cop Mom, this is changing, I think. At least in our case, my husband and I have each taken on a shift of stay-at-home parenting (me for almost 3 years; my husband, for 1.5 years and counting). When my husband, an executive, told his counterparts he was quitting to be a stay-at-home dad, he was surprised how many of the men at his level were supportive and said they wished they had done the same when their children were small.

It's just one anecdote-- but, hey, the stay-at-home dads are out there. And there are even some of us who decide to take turns on the stay-at-home parenting so that neither partner's career takes too much of a hit.

Posted by: Neighbor | January 9, 2007 10:07 AM

Thank you, thank you!

I just started my last semester of law school and am beginning to make serious decisions about the type of life I want to have - and that life will include a full-time job (I didn't just pay all this money and spend all this time to play CandyLand all day...) AND kids. It seems as though this blog is often dedicated to the "evils" of working motherhood - especially targeted at those of use who have chosen professional, demanding careers (we can't help it - we come from the "women can do EVERYTHING! generation, even though we all know that that is a load of propagandist bs). It is refreshing to hear from a women who made the choices I am making and who is happy with that choice.

Posted by: scr | January 9, 2007 10:08 AM

To Father of 4: here's how I interepted "let me assure you I don't have a nanny" -- that Stephanie has the same struggles to pick up her kids from a child care arrangement by a set time as the average working parent. An in-home nanny has to wait for a parent to come home and tends to be a more flexible arrangement.

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | January 9, 2007 10:08 AM

I was active Working Mom with Two kids. Very stressed due to stressful job and behaviorial issues with kids. Lack of sufficient support from husband.

Husband wanted more kids. Wife/Mom offered compromise "Only if I can go part-time or stay at home without us living in poverty". Husband does nothing to increase his salary; so no more kids.

Fast forward a few years later.. husband left for younger woman to have more kids ("wished he'd listened to me before")... Thank goodness I had my career to finish supporting the two kids I felt responsible and accountable for.

I enjoy my work. My husband accused me of putting my career before my family. yet, I did not leave my family for another woman to have more kids. Is this all crazy or what??? I say if you want to stay home and are able - ENJOY! I say if you want to work and are able - ENJOY! I say if you have no choice but to work, it does help that you can ENJOY without feeling guilty about it. And you never know - it might be a life saver one day. Because you never know what is on the road around the bend that you never saw coming..

Posted by: cyntia | January 9, 2007 10:09 AM

To Father of 4: here's how I interepted "let me assure you I don't have a nanny" -- that Stephanie has the same struggles to pick up her kids from a child care arrangement by a set time as the average working parent. An in-home nanny has to wait for a parent to come home and tends to be a more flexible arrangement.

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | January 9, 2007 10:10 AM

To Childless by Choice, and all who scorn the "breeders".

I find it extremely offensive that instead of simply choosing to not have children and be done with it, you have decided to actively and maliciously criticize people who choose to have a family. Your derision smacks of disappointment, and your every post leaves me wondering if, in fact, you are not "childless by choice" but because you are not able to have children yourself (either because you've never married and don't want to be a single parent, or because nature will not allow you to have children).

Do tell us why you are SO nasty? You were someone's "spawn" once, too. (Is that how your parents referred to you?)

Posted by: Unreal | January 9, 2007 10:12 AM

Hiya "Don't Get It" -- What I may never get is why so much anger is directed towards moms, whether we work at home, pick crops or argue cases like Lawyer Mama. We are NOT letting others "raise our kids." We are NOT "selfish" for wanting and needing to work. Go harrass someone else! Or better yet, get happy yourself and leave other moms alone.

Posted by: Leslie | January 9, 2007 10:13 AM

I just want to plug in for U street denizen. I too do not have children and my husband and I do not want any. I just took a different job because I wanted a life outside of work. Several people I work with keep asking me when I intend to start a family, assuming that is the reason I'm changing jobs. The real reason is that I just want a life outside of work. I want to play piano. I want to take yoga. I'm thinking of taking Irish dance classes. No kids involved, I just want a life.

The good news that I see happening around me is that I am not the only one who feels this way (about having a life no matter what the reason). I see more and more people who are sick of the long hours (currently work in consulting), the business dinners, the selling expectations, etc. and just want some time to be a person separate from their career. I hope that this trend continues to the point of pushing us all to greater balance regardless of our family status.

Posted by: Tina | January 9, 2007 10:16 AM

Every woman has to decide what works for her but I was lucky enough to have a choice and wild horses could not have dragged me away from my children. I had worked for several years before having them as a computer software engineer but never regretted staying home with them until they started school. At that point I went to work part time and volunteered in schools. My children learned that a 'work ethic' can be about volunteering to help others and doesn't have to be about a paycheck. They learned that making family a priority and "working" to live on a budget is important. I have friends who have worked full time since their children were babies and feel that it made them better moms. That is simply not the choice I could make.

Posted by: PTA mom | January 9, 2007 10:16 AM

CBC is a hateful woman who was abused and, now, in turn is abusive. She is carrying on an affair with a married man and is probably so upset with her life that she turns to a blog about balancing family and work to lash out.

Posted by: to unreal | January 9, 2007 10:19 AM

I agree with U St & Co. - I could have found a more high powered, lucrative job in my field, but chose to work for a smaller company to achieve balance, even though I have no children. I do like to have time to volunteer, run, do yoga, etc. Balance is important for everyone....

Posted by: Missicat | January 9, 2007 10:20 AM

Amen, Morgan. I'm a working mother by necessity who would love to stay home. While I completely understand the need for fulfillment and intellectual stimulation, I simply don't understand why so many people seem to think those things are found only at work. In my experience, those things are found only outside of work. Being a working mother just leaves me exhausted and stretched too thin. In my limited spare time I just want to veg out. I would have so much more time for the things I find fulfilling and stimulating if I was at home.

Posted by: This Blog Drives Me Nuts | January 9, 2007 10:23 AM

"Quick question - not to be snarky; but how to stay at home parents impart on their children a work ethic, and the need to be independent and self sufficient?"

Single Mom, I WOH but since work ethic (or the lack of one) is a pet peeve, I can't resist responding to your question. Having a good work ethic isn't at all about being compensated for one's efforts. It can be taught by being a reliable and responsible Sunday School teacher, by following through on home repairs timely commenced, by raking the leaves on a gorgeous fall day when one would rather be playing golf just because they need to be raked. To me, work ethic is taught by taking the initiative to work at almost anything and doing a task well whether or not anyone is looking. It's about creating a culture in your household of careful, responsible diligence.

On the other hand, I also know many employed persons who haven't a lick of work ethic. Don't you?

to Mom FT/Worker PT: part time work appeals greatly, but it doesn't work in my job, and I am the primary breadwinner in our family. It also doesn't work in my spouse's industry - IT. If he even breathed a hint of wanting to work part-time or a daytime only schedule, he'd be replaced within 6 months through some sort of reorg that only eliminates his position. We've already relocated to achieve more balance, and it's better than it was, but p/t jobs do not work across all industries and roles. I believe many, many families would opt for one full-time, one part-time employed parent, were that option more broadly available.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 9, 2007 10:26 AM

"I don't get it" wants to know where the compromise and sacrifice is, as if being a parent requires you to be some kind of martyr that gives up all other rewarding aspects of life in order to raise children.

I just don't see it that way. Raising children is hard enough without looking for martyrdom on purpose. If someone has a career that is conducive to raising children, where the hours are not too long or the stress to great, then hurray for them. Our children do not need us to be there 24/7. It is absolutely fine to outsource some of the childcaring duties to a nanny or daycare or babysitter for some of the time. The child will still know that their parents love them, and if you choose a good childcare situation, they will make some friends, adjust to other people, and learn some independence which will build up their self esteem and confidence. These are all good things.

I think every parent realizes that sometime during their childraising years, they will be called on to make some hard choices and sacrifices. We are all up to that. But I am not up to martyring myself in vain. If I can raise my children well and still be happy at work, what on earth is the harm in that?

Kudos to you, LawyerMama, for finding the balance that works for your life.

Posted by: Emily | January 9, 2007 10:27 AM

"Quick question - not to be snarky; but how to stay at home parents impart on their children a work ethic, and the need to be independent and self sufficient?"

Single Mom, I WOH but since work ethic (or the lack of one) is a pet peeve, I can't resist responding to your question. Having a good work ethic isn't at all about being compensated for one's efforts. It can be taught by being a reliable and responsible Sunday School teacher, by following through on home repairs timely commenced, by raking the leaves on a gorgeous fall day when one would rather be playing golf just because they need to be raked. To me, work ethic is taught by taking the initiative to work at almost anything and doing a task well whether or not anyone is looking. It's about creating a culture in your household of careful, responsible diligence.

On the other hand, I also know many employed persons who haven't a lick of work ethic. Don't you?

to Mom FT/Worker PT: part time work appeals greatly, but it doesn't work in my job, and I am the primary breadwinner in our family. It also doesn't work in my spouse's industry - IT. If he even breathed a hint of wanting to work part-time or a daytime only schedule, he'd be replaced within 6 months through some sort of reorg that only eliminates his position. We've already relocated to achieve more balance, and it's better than it was, but p/t jobs do not work across all industries and roles. I believe many, many families would opt for one full-time, one part-time employed parent, were that option more broadly available.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 9, 2007 10:29 AM

I've been a SAHM for ten years. My husband's job requires that he work a constantly changing schedule that combines 2nd and 3rd shift, days and weekends, and many holidays. He earns several times what I would be able to earn.

Before kids, my 50 hour work week meant that we would have only a few evenings each month to spend together which was a strain on our marriage. We didn't think we could hold it all together and raise a family so we decided I would stay home.

The only time I feel regret about this choice is when I'm treated like I parked my brain at the door ten years ago.

I have great conversations on many topics with my SAHM and WOHM friends. I don't think there's any worry about kids not learning about work because their mom is home with them. They'll develop intellectual curiosity by watching me read, watch and listen to the news and discuss events with friends. My daughter shares my desk with me while I work managing our finances. My son(7)can plan and cook dinner with a little supervision. He went through an annoying phase in which everything he said was sung to the melody from "All Things Considered".

I see an appalling number of young people with no life skills. Developing a work ethic and intellect is not all about getting paid.

Posted by: HappyMom | January 9, 2007 10:35 AM

I too have a very balanced work/home life as do many of the better educated parents I know - education or training gives you options. We are able to work out flexible schedules precisely because we have skills that are in high demand.

I stayed home with my children for 12 years, working part time to keep up with my field and staying active in professional associations - I actually had more time to read and do research while home with my kids than I do now working full time. Even with taking off that much time, I have a position now that is higher than I anticipated achieving had I not had children at all(which, as many note will often slow your career pace even if you go back to work right away.)

Because I have achieved a certain level, I can take off when I want, work around children's activities, etc... I love having staff who can cover for me - just as they would if I were on a business trip. I don't get this bias against nannies or doing well enough to have the flexibility in your career to make balance easier. And yes, my husband has made the same choices that complement mine.

I have friends who did make partner - years later than they might have had they not worked part time but they also had a much higher quality of life while their collegues were trying to get their 1800 billable hours and never left the office.

Posted by: Rockville | January 9, 2007 10:38 AM

really! what about us? we commute 3 hours a day, we work 9.5 hours a day, we go home and take care of the kids so mommy can have "me time" and EVEN THEN we have to beg for sex? WTF?!

Posted by: Dad Got Hosed | January 9, 2007 10:47 AM

Here! Here!

Posted by: Carrie | January 9, 2007 10:48 AM

"While I completely understand the need for fulfillment and intellectual stimulation, I simply don't understand why so many people seem to think those things are found only at work. In my experience, those things are found only outside of work."

It's amusing -- I'm fortunate enough to now be in a position where I can earn a nice income and occassionally work from my home -- and I'm listening to my SAHM wife and her SAHM friend -- both with graduate degrees -- alternating their conversation in the other room between educational theory, philosophy, and politics. Both volunteer significantly in our childrens' schools -- as well as other community activities -- and seem to do pretty well in their desire to have intellectual conversations.


Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 10:48 AM

"how to stay at home parents impart on their children a work ethic, and the need to be independent and self sufficient?""

A "work ethic" doesn't apply only to paid work done outside the home. My children see that I "work" caring for our home, for them, and doing volunteer work and they understand the importance of those things as well as seeing the results of my work every day. Questioning how a SAHM teaches "work ethic" to their child certainly sounds like you think we sit around on our rear ends all day doing nothing.

Re: the need to be independent and self-sufficient. Well, my kids know that I went to college and worked for many years supporting myself (and in the case of my older children, them and my ex-husband). They also know that I will return to work after they are all older and that I have education, experience, and skills that would allow me to be self-sufficient if needed.

But for now they also understand
that my husband and I are partners that share the duties of raising our children, taking care of our home, and earning the money required to do both of those things. So what if the separation of duties is such that he does the earning and I do the majority of the child and house care - it's still a partnership.

Posted by: momof4 | January 9, 2007 10:49 AM

From a post above:

"Though we need both incomes to support our modest lifestyle (household income of less than $150,000 per year)

Posted by: An Dliodoir | January 9, 2007 08:50 AM "


GOOD GRIEF!!! What planet do you people live on? Someone who thinks that an income of near $150,000 is "modest" needs a HUGE HUGE HUGE reality check!

The MEDIAN household income in this country is $47,000+.

The economic MIDDLE class is from about $36000 - 56,000.

Anyone with an income ABOVE $75,000+ is the UPPER 20% of all households. Anyone with an income of $150000 and up is in the top 10% of all households.

-----

On the topic, this is incredibly tedious. My grandmother heard the same boring disscussion in the 30s (and she worked); my mother heard it in the 50s (and she worked); my generation heard it in the 70s-80s.

Never met a SAHM who wasn't as dull and boring as dirt - obsessed with the children's thoughts, behavior and activities and whose adult interaction is restricted to their spouses and other SAHMS.

All those women who want to fulfill themselves by being a SAHM had better think long and hard. The fastest way to end up in poverty without health insurance for women of ALL economic levels is to get divorced. (See the experience of 3 prior generations.) Betting that there is no chance that you won't end up divorced is pretty delusional.

If you drop out of the employment market to sit home, you will NOT be taken seriously when you try to re-enter. Sorry but it is true. When you decide to go back to work at 40, 45 or whatever, you will find out (1) that there are lots of bright young things who will be hired before you and (2) what age discrimination is all about and how easily it is concealed behind platitudes such as "not a good fit", "needed someone with more recent experience" etc.

You are deluding yourself if you think you can waltz back into the employment market and pick up where you left off. "Staying home with the children" is not a resume enhancer.

When (not 'if') a lot of you SAHMs are felled by the 'divorced in your late 40s-early 50s when the kids leave for college and he wants out' thing, the true consequences of you choice will hit home. Your Social Security will be less - if you get disabled or when you retire. You will not have current job skills or degrees. (A 30 year old degree in anything is pretty useless.) You won't be able to afford to go back to school and, in any event, someone at 50 with a nice new degree is still not exactly a hot property in the job market (that age thing again.)

My generation (late 60s to late 70s) watched that happen to our mothers' generation of SAHMs. They bought into the late 1940s-50s malarkey about staying home with the children being the only true happiness. Their husbands went out the door when they reached their late 40s and early 50s and wanted a more exciting life, feeling free to pursue as 'the children were gone.' Even had a name for them - "displaced homemakers." Women with degrees from some of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the US were unemployable and could only find work in retail and restuarants and entry level clerical (after retraining on office skills.) That generation of SAHMs are now in their 70s and 80s and those women live in DEEP poverty - or to put it in numbers which those who think "$150,000 is a moderate income" can understand, Poverty Level is below $9800 a year for one person and Deep Poverty Level is below $7350 per year for one person. Those women are financially dependent upon their children for the basic necessities of food, shelter and medical expenses (Medicare only pays 80%)

Posted by: Bored with the subject | January 9, 2007 10:52 AM

Sending messages to kids....I was a home daycare provider when my children were small...my husband traveled and I couldn't juggle it all and work outside the home...and I wanted to be with my kids. One of the kids I watched was the daughter of a career mom...the mom said she wanted to show her daughter this example of a happy working successful mom, that she did not have because her mom stayed home and watched other people's kids. The career woman's daughter wrote about what she wanted to be when she grew up..." a babysitter like Miss Amy, so that I can be with my kids."....My kids are now 19 and 13...I have worked and stayed at home...know lots of people on both sides of it....you can't justify one as better than the other if you are looking for outcomes with your own kids. Listen to your kids...and if you have the choice...(beyond the first year) cut your schedule back in the teen years....

Posted by: Amy | January 9, 2007 10:55 AM

My fiance and I are discussing what we'll do once we start having kids in a year or so. I have two graduate degrees and 15 years of experience in a career that I enjoy and value. I would like to continue working, but I've always pictured myself as a SAH mom. Yet where I'm most torn is that while I believe that I should be home to raise my kids, I want to give my own children the role model of a career-oriented mother with whose out there trying to make a difference. It's not knocking the SAH moms, but more that there's another image that I want to impress on my children. Just as my mother did with me and my three siblings when she worked as a lawyer (in a time when women were just breaking into the field)... She worked from home, but doing so meant giving up her career goals for us. ("Work" does not necessarily equal a "career.") Maybe I can figure out a way to do the same - to keep working albeit at a slower, non-career ladder pace - but it will likely mean a complete switch of careers for me b/c mine is not conducive to that sort of arrangement. Basically, I have no idea what to do...

Posted by: hurricanewarningdc | January 9, 2007 10:55 AM

The difference that I discovered between times when I worked outside the home and time that I stayed at home was the quality of weekends. When I was at home, I could take care of auto maintenance, grocery shopping, and other misc errands during the week so that our weekends could be at a more relaxing pace. When working, many of those errands were pushed to the weekends making it very hectic.

Posted by: PTA mom | January 9, 2007 10:56 AM

I really enjoyed today's column, though the comments took their usual turn. I really related to LawyerMama's life (even though I'm apparently in the minority here by being neither alawyer nor a journalist). I work full time and most days enjoy it. I'd a stressed raving lunatic if I were home all the time. BUT it's not just about 'what I enjoy is best for everybody else'. It is good for my child to learn to interact with lots of people. And I have not relinquished the structure or discipline he needs to others simply because he is with them. If he emulates behavior he sees elsewhere that is unacceptable in our home, he hears about and learns the difference. I have chosen his day care providers carefully for what they offer in education and environment. We interact with his providers to ensure that what my husband and I have determined is best is what is delivered. Our son knows he is infinitely loved, has clear parameters, and appropriate expectations. Even though both my husband and I work, we have lots of family time when we are truly focused on each other. We have dinner together every night, breakfast every morning, commute together, ride bikes, etc. We even run errands and grocery shop together as a family. In some ways that takes extra effort, but mostly it's just really nice that life at home is all about being in it together. We got an invitation to a child's birthday party this weekend (Chuckie Cheese, groan) and it never occurred to my husband that we weren't ALL going. I had to point out that he might be the only husband there (he was, and totally didn't care).

Posted by: VAtoddlerMom | January 9, 2007 10:57 AM

"Never met a SAHM who wasn't as dull and boring as dirt - obsessed with the children's thoughts, behavior and activities and whose adult interaction is restricted to their spouses and other SAHMS."


Bored with the subject, for whatever useful perspective you add, comments like this one are breathtaking in their ignorance and small-mindedness. Perhaps the SAHMs you've encountered were put off by the wonder of your intellect, friendliness, and openness to new ideas.

Some fields are more open to re-entry by SAHMs than others. C'est la vie.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 9, 2007 10:58 AM

For someone bored with the subject you sure have a lot to say on it.

Posted by: to Bored with the subject | January 9, 2007 10:59 AM

"Quick question - not to be snarky; but how to stay at home parents impart on their children a work ethic, and the need to be independent and self sufficient?"

I grew up with a SAHM, and this was an issue. She talked the talk, for sure, but the walk was noticeably absent. Seeing her reading the paper over three leisurely cups of coffee, lunching with the ladies, and still enjoying all the finer things in life really took some of the oomph out of the parenting arguments. All that "you'll value it more if you work for it", "never let yourself become unemployable", "when I was working..." it just rang hollow. When the "kids" are 14, 15 and 17, riding bikes to school, at atheletics and extra-curriculars til 6pm or later, what's a SAHM's excuse? Can there be any other than that she prefers her leisure? Hey, great, I like leisure. I hope someday to have more of it. But for her entire raison d'etre to be "staying home for the kids" when the kids were out of the house 11 hours a day, well... I am NOT playing the martyr here, but I feel like I grew up kind of quickly, constantly faced with that inherent contradiction. I didn't respect my mom. Especially not after I went out and got my first job at 15. And it could be completely unconnected, but my brother hasn't held a job in over five years. He lets his wife support him, though he's definitely not a SAHD (the kids go to daycare). It's funny how similar his defenses are to my mother's: there are no jobs in this town for someone of my skills, it's more convenient to have someone available for the kids just in case...

Sorry, this was a ramble. And the point is, I agree with the sentiment expressed in the question. This is a difficult balance, and I think a lot of it has to do with the kids' age. Perhaps the key to showing them balance and independence is to stay home for a few years, then pick up the career where it was left off...

Posted by: WDC | January 9, 2007 10:59 AM

Bored with the subject, you said "If you drop out of the employment market to sit home, you will NOT be taken seriously when you try to re-enter."

In my experience and the experience of many other women I know, this is completely UNTRUE. I was a stay-at-home mom for years before re-entering the workforce earlier this year. I had my pick of job offers and was very surprised by how quickly they came -- within weeks of putting my resume out, I had three offers for full-time or part-time work. And I work in IT, so you could hardly say that my skills after a four-year hiatus were bright and shiny. I know of many women who stayed home for much longer than I did and had similar experiences.

Also, if I think about what MIGHT happen, all the bad things that could come up in the future, I would probably never leave my house. I wouldn't have gotten married, certainly would not have had children, and would basically be reduced to a quivering jelly. Life is full of risks, and in my experience, those who go out on a limb do fall down sometimes, but get more joy out of existence than those who fear the "what ifs".

Posted by: WorkingMomX | January 9, 2007 11:00 AM

We all seem to be having this discussion as a "one-size-fits-all". If I had a daughter who was making the decision my advice would be to make every effort to stay at home until your child is at least 4 or 5 years old. A three year old doesn't need the model of a working mother. Once they start school, try to arrange your schedule to be there when they get off the bus. To me, that is the ideal situation. I know not everyone has those choices, but for those who do, this would be my advice.

Posted by: trieditall | January 9, 2007 11:01 AM

"The only time I feel regret about this choice is when I'm treated like I parked my brain at the door ten years ago."

Amen. I don't feel any "regret" about my choice even when faced with the brain parking comments, but I don't understand how people can possibly think that giving up a paid job means the end of any brain activity beyond the level of a 4 year old. Even when I was working, I would say I received equal or more "intellectual stimulation" from activities, conversations, and friends outside of work as on the job.

"I am a better parent, a better role model, and a better person because I work outside of the home."

It strikes me as odd that people in general are OK with this comment (which I have heard many, many times over the years) from a working parent, but a SAHM would be absolutely attacked if she said: "I am a better parent, a better role model, and a better person because I stay home with my children."


Posted by: momof4 | January 9, 2007 11:01 AM

Chiming in to agree with U Street Denizen, Missicat and everyone else who said that this is not so much a "mom" issue as a "work-life balance for everyone" issue. I'm back in school earning my MA in hopes that this will give me leverage to find a great job that pays decently and yet allows me to have a life outside of work.

Decent part-time jobs are also not just a parent issue - if more of these were available, people with disabilities would benefit, too. I have several friends who have autoimmune diseases, fibromyalgia and so on, who would love to work but can't find decent part-time work and the full-time work is just too much for them, so they stay home. Many people who can't work full-time because of disability issues could work part-time.

An Dliodoir - $150,000 a *modest* income? I guess that's one of those "you know you live in a big coastal city when..." type indicators! (I know it would be considered "modest" in SF, LA, etc. too.) Still, dang. Who would have thought that a six-figure income could be considered "modest?" Ai yi yi. Elizabeth Warren is right, housing and healthcare inflation is out of hand.

Posted by: Flyonthewall | January 9, 2007 11:02 AM

Lawyer Mama--thank you for a thoughtful piece. I, too have been a work-out-of-the-home mom since my daughter was about 3 months old. And thank my stars I continued to work, otherwise I would not be able to support my daughter now that I'm a single parent whose former spouse elects not to contribute financially. I have made "sacrifices" that included working part time until my daughter was 1, and part-time when she was 5, before heading off to kindergarten. Why? Yes, to spend more time with her. But also to spend more time with myself! I am truly a better mother when I am working in a job I love and am quite good at, with adult contact and interaction that makes me happy. I am also a better mom when I have some "me" time. Does this mean I don't love my daughter with my whole heart? No. Make no mistake, I am raising my daughter and I was raising her when she was in preschool. Moms have always had help, from grandparents, neighbors, friends, wealthy stay at home wives have always had nannies. Our children are better off for having a whole group of people around who love and nurture them.

Posted by: Single Mom in VA | January 9, 2007 11:03 AM

GOOD GRIEF!!! What planet do you people live on? Someone who thinks that an income of near $150,000 is "modest" needs a HUGE HUGE HUGE reality check!

Have you or do you live in the DC area? When I lived there by the time I paid the crazy rent, daycare, commuting costs, food, utilities, student loans, etc. I made very little. The cost of living is so high in the DC area that 150, 000 really isn't that much.

Now, if you take that salary to say Nebraska, Missouri or Iowa, you would be living large.

Posted by: scarry | January 9, 2007 11:04 AM

"It strikes me as odd that people in general are OK with this comment (which I have heard many, many times over the years) from a working parent, but a SAHM would be absolutely attacked if she said: "I am a better parent, a better role model, and a better person because I stay home with my children.""

I actually agree that some parents are better parents, role models, and people if they stay at home. I also agree that others do better if they work. Why do we have to pigeon hole people into some ridiculous one size-fits-all role? People are different. They have different personaliites, expectations, levels of patience, tolerances for chaos and stress, etc. Some parents are great doing the stay at home thing. Others really are no good at it. Same goes for working parents. Just because I personally like to work does not mean that I am judging those who choose to stay at home. Why do we have to personalize everything everyone says, as if it were an attack on our choices, when they are just an expression of another valid choice?

Posted by: Emily | January 9, 2007 11:09 AM

To: Bored w/Subject

In DC, $150,000 is a moderate income. The average income in the DC area (last I heard a few years ago) is $74,500 per person. So the $150k person is exactly average.

To put it in perspective - the condo that we bought here for $242k 1200 sq. ft.(Alexandria, Fairfax County -- Engleside area -- read: not posh) is more than what my parents in Akron paid for their 4 bdr, 2.5 bath McMansion.

Posted by: Danielle | January 9, 2007 11:11 AM

Something I've been wondering: why do we look to high-achievers to model work/life balance once kids come along? (Reference: any alarmist media piece on high achieving women dropping out to become SAHM, one example Lisa Belkin's NYT magizine "Opt Out Revolution" cover story). I would argue that high achievers are *precisely* those women/people who are the *most* imbalanced - ie they achieve a lot because they are working all the time! Why should we look to them to model balance once kids are in the picture? Seems like no surprise to me that instead many of them flip whole hog into full-time parenting, after all, it's what they know.

Perhaps it's those of us low-acheivers who are muddling along trying to get a nice work-life balance before childbirth who are the better role models for balance after kids come along. ;)

Posted by: Hoosier | January 9, 2007 11:11 AM

I don't know. I live Rockville, and find 150K to be plenty to live on. No, we aren't filthy rich, but we aren't poor either. Not by a longshot. But then again, I don't pay daycare anymore, and student loans are paid off, and mortgage is smallish. So maybe I am just living in a bubble.

Posted by: Emily | January 9, 2007 11:12 AM

OOOOOh, Unreal, did I touch a nerve? Spawn is a perfectly legitimate word to use for 'offspring.' The Washington Compost fashion Nazi often uses it, as well as the celebrity reporters. Perhaps you'd prefer 'fruit of your loins?' Or 'OOOOPS?'

BTW, CBC is very happy with her life. Ever hear the word 'schadenfreude?' If you people are so miserable trying to figure out work/life balance, why didn't you think about that before you produced the little rug rats?

Posted by: Childless by Choice | January 9, 2007 11:13 AM

I am in a job situation now very similar to the one Stephanie described. I consider myself very lucky. It's a professional position that pays a decent salary by DC standards but I describe it to myself as my "mommy track" job. Why? Because I don't have to work evenings and weekends, like many of my friends. So, the guest blog submission that Stephanie criticizes is still accurate and true, at least for DC working moms in competitive fields. Stephanie moved away from DC to achieve her balance. Not many people can do this. Some careers only exist in DC. Let's all try to make the work place more flexible. If telework and working from home become more of a norm in DC, we will all benefit. And if my husband and I could fund college education, mortgage, retirement, and normal lifestyle on one income, one of us would quit in a second to be with the kids when they get home from school.

Posted by: another working mother | January 9, 2007 11:13 AM

I am a workng mom, my mom worked, loved her work, and was a great mom, my dad worked, loved to work, and was a great dad, I grew up assuming I would work and never (for me) considered otherwise, it wasnt until I started reading this blog that I even knew I was supposed to feel guilty (sorry, no guilt) or that I was supposed to justify my choices (no one has ever questioned my choices.) My kids are happy and great, they loved daycare, now they love school, they have a happy and involved dad, mom and extended family. I dont even join in this debate usually, as I find the idea that I would even have to explain my life choices bizarre. My best friend is a SAHM (for now) and I've never questioned that.

Posted by: jessker21 | January 9, 2007 11:14 AM

"I don't understand how people can possibly think that giving up a paid job means the end of any brain activity beyond the level of a 4 year old..."

Because this is what we hear from SAHMs. All the defensiveness about political and philosophical discussions that I've read on this board today represents a small minority of the experiences SAHPs tell me about. I hear about the neverending cleaning. I hear about the 19th watching of the Wiggles. I hear about how my friend has to take her 2-year-old into the bathroom with her when she can't hold it another minute, so that he doesn't poke the baby's eyes while she's peeing. I don't hear about the discovery of a dialectical contradiction between Kantian and Kierkegaardian readings of Aristotle.

Posted by: To MomOf4 | January 9, 2007 11:14 AM

MomOf4, I like to think...

I'm a better employee, a more productive worker.., blah, blah blah...

because I spend time blogging on the job.

Works for me!

Posted by: Father of 4 | January 9, 2007 11:14 AM

I am a workng mom, my mom worked, loved her work, and was a great mom, my dad worked, loved to work, and was a great dad, I grew up assuming I would work and never (for me) considered otherwise, it wasnt until I started reading this blog that I even knew I was supposed to feel guilty (sorry, no guilt) or that I was supposed to justify my choices (no one has ever questioned my choices.) My kids are happy and great, they loved daycare, now they love school, they have a happy and involved dad, mom and extended family. I dont even join in this debate usually, as I find the idea that I would even have to explain my life choices bizarre. My best friend is a SAHM (for now) and I've never questioned that.

Posted by: jessker21 | January 9, 2007 11:15 AM

am a workng mom, my mom worked, loved her work, and was a great mom, my dad worked, loved to work, and was a great dad, I grew up assuming I would work and never (for me) considered otherwise, it wasnt until I started reading this blog that I even knew I was supposed to feel guilty (sorry, no guilt) or that I was supposed to justify my choices (no one has ever questioned my choices.) My kids are happy and great, they loved daycare, now they love school, they have a happy and involved dad, mom and extended family. I dont even join in this debate usually, as I find the idea that I would even have to explain my life choices bizarre. My best friend is a SAHM (for now) and I've never questioned that.

Posted by: jessker22 | January 9, 2007 11:18 AM

Thank you for this! I am a new mom-and I already know that the best choice for ME is to work full time. I would be miserable and make my child miserable if I was at home.

Posted by: Mindypoo | January 9, 2007 11:18 AM

I think the main problem with this blog is everyone jumps to conclusions that one persons assessment of their own situation is an implied accusation about another persons situation. If a person, like copmom, says she needs work to find intellectual stimulation. Others jump in that being a SAHM/P is not mindless. She never said it was mindless. Or if a SAHP, like moxiemom or who ever says they enjoy being a SAHP, others jump around and say that their implying that WOHPs don't love their kids. Not everyone is saying something about another's situation. BTW, Sorry to moxiemom if you got offended last week when I talked about your kids doing chores. It was in no way a post to ask you to justify how you raise your kids. I don't think anyone cares how you raise your kids. It is your own personal business. But copmom does bring up a valid question, why are we not asking the same question to men? Why are women the only ones who need to talk about sacrifies. I know in my particular situation, I leave for the office before 6AM. Yes my friends, before 6! I leave the office at 4:30 to pick DD up at day care. I usually get there around 5:25PM. DH gets DD dressed and ready for day care. She arrives at day care at 8:15 and takes a bus to preschool. She stays at preschool for the morning and has lunch. She arrives back at day care at 12:30-1:00 and naps till 3:00. She gets up and has a snack and plays for 2 1/2 hours. So the total time my DD is awake in day care is approximately 3 1/2 hours a day. She is home all day (no preschool or day care) on Fridays - Sunday. I have never worked on a weekend, in 10 years! I have maybe worked late, till around 6PM, three or four times a year. I travel once every three years. So why do people say that my kid is stuck in day care, that someone else is raising her? Do they really expect she doesn't attend school? Next year DD will go to preschool 5 mornings a week and will be in day care in the afternoons. When she goes to kindergarten, I plan to work 7 hours a day/ 5 days a week. So I can pick her up after school. She will be in after school care only on Monday's till 3 (early dismissal) and morning care for a whooping 30 minutes each morning. Why are some SAHMs still admant that this is problem? I even no one family where the dad is a school psychologist. Home after school, before school, and all school breaks including summers. Mom gets the child after school. She works 6 hours a day and can meet the bus. But still people point and say she is a bad mother for working outside the home. Do people really expect you to be homeschooling your children? What gets me is some of the parents pointing fingers do not home school their children either and they don't spend any more time with their school aged child then these working parents do.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 9, 2007 11:20 AM

I don't see why so many in these "mommy wars" seem to think you have to go one extreme or the other. Or that if you chose to work or to stay home that somehow you are missing out?
I'm trying to work a way so that I can do both. I'm not an "older mother" as I am not yet 30, but I am a professional who's trying to climb the ladder. Fortunately, I currently work in a job that allows me to telecommute a large portion of the week. I'll admit, I am quite lucky. I think this is possibly the best of both worlds. I will still take home that much-needed paycheck and keep my resume from developing "holes", and will be able to spend the time with our baby. Raising him/her the way I'd hoped to (breastfeeding, babywearing, etc.). I know it'll be hard on me and I'll have to be multitasking all day, but I beleive it'll be worth it. I can still be a good mom and an acheiving professional by taking this little service road.

Posted by: preggers | January 9, 2007 11:22 AM

Let's hear it for working Moms from a child of a working Mom -- my Mom was clearly unhappy being a SAHM. It was very hard on her to handle four small children by herself. When she when back to work she was much happier, and a better Mom. I always wished she had been able to do more in her career, not less. Certainly I never felt the time and love she put into her work subtracted anything from my life.

Posted by: Diane, Baltimore | January 9, 2007 11:25 AM

I don't see why so many in these "mommy wars" seem to think you have to go one extreme or the other. Or that if you chose to work or to stay home that somehow you are missing out?
I'm trying to work a way so that I can do both. I'm not an "older mother" as I am not yet 30, but I am a professional who's trying to climb the ladder. Fortunately, I currently work in a job that allows me to telecommute a large portion of the week. I'll admit, I am quite lucky. I think this is possibly the best of both worlds. I will still take home that much-needed paycheck and keep my resume from developing "holes", and will be able to spend the time with our baby. Raising him/her the way I'd hoped to (breastfeeding, babywearing, etc.). I know it'll be hard on me and I'll have to be multitasking all day, but I beleive it'll be worth it. I can still be a good mom and an acheiving professional by taking this little service road.

Posted by: preggers | January 9, 2007 11:25 AM

"To: Bored w/Subject

In DC, $150,000 is a moderate income. The average income in the DC area (last I heard a few years ago) is $74,500 per person. So the $150k person is exactly average."

Um, no, that is $74,500 per household, genius. BIG difference. Not every single person who lives in this area is a lawyer you know.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 11:27 AM

I've been childless, a working mother, and a stay-at-home mother at different points in my life. Know what I found out? We mothers can't win. No matter what we do, some self-righteous busybody will slam us for it. I've been told by the childless that I was a selfish breeder whose overindulged spawn are going to wreck the planet. I was accused of being a career-obsessed materialistic child neglecter when I worked, and a parasite who was wasting her education and intellect on discussions of potty-training when I stayed at home. All of this got old real fast.

Here's a radical thought: let's declare a cease-fire in the freakin' Mommy Wars. Have kids, don't have kids, work, don't work -- do whatever you think is best. I won't criticize your choices if you won't criticize mine. Deal?

Posted by: Nancy | January 9, 2007 11:27 AM

Wow, Childless by Choice, you are digging yourself in even deeper. The words you chose to use in your last post just make it crystal clear how angry and embittered you are. I truly hope for you that you find happiness in something, even if it is derived out of nasty blog posts, I suppose. I suggest that you find avenues that make you happy instead of reading things on the Washington "compost" (as you put it).

Posted by: Unreal | January 9, 2007 11:29 AM

Momof4 - I think you hear a lot of that stuff when the kids are small because realistically when they are under 3 you don't have time to read or discuss because they require so very much supervision. I always found 30 min to read the paper in the morning and now that my kids are bigger I have more balance and am able to tend to my intellectual needs more. I think a topic about balance when you are at home especially with the small ones would be interesting.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 9, 2007 11:30 AM

CBC there are words to describe you as well. One rhymes with bore.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 11:33 AM

foamgnome - thanks for your kind words. I think that you are right ( guilty myself sometimes) but I also think that people forget the importance of choice of words. Saying "I could NEVER be a ..........." is a lot different than saying "What we chose or what works for me is to.........." Words are powerful and certainly when they are delivered without tone or inflection there is even more room for misinterpretation.

I also liked hearing about your day. Interesting.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 9, 2007 11:33 AM

" It's awful that "part time" is 7 hours/day"

7 hours a day, especially if it is 7 hours without leaving the office for lunch, makes a huge difference in the time you leave the office. It also is "part time" as in less than 40 hours a week, but is officially considered "full time", as in 32 hours or greater, which qualifies for benefits.

Posted by: KS | January 9, 2007 11:34 AM

"It strikes me as odd that people in general are OK with this comment (which I have heard many, many times over the years) from a working parent, but a SAHM would be absolutely attacked if she said: 'I am a better parent, a better role model, and a better person because I stay home with my children.'"

I don't know...maybe what LawyerMama meant was that she's happier, and more able to impart happiness to her children, because she works.

I, like Bored with the subject, know plenty of SAHMs who are dull and vapid, but I'll stop short at saying they are all that way. I'm certain my acquaintances are not representative. They're not dull and vapid because they are SAHMs; they are dull and vapid because they are dull and vapid. I'm pretty sure they'd stay at home even without being parents, because they're just lazy. Their kids are also wild and spoiled, obese and being raised by TV. So these people I know are just lazy all around; there is no cause-and-effect of parenthood.

Some people thrive staying at home, some thrive working outside of it, some find balance, others do not. If only we could be okay with our choices! Why does mom-guilt hit everyone so hard? Why don't dads feel guilty for not being home most of the time? Why, oh why, Childless by Choice, did you have to refer to children as 'spawn'? You know how some on this board hate that term. I am childless for now and take away a lot of knowledge from this board for future reference; please don't give us a bad name by inflaming those who are sensitive.

On a more humorous note, a colleague of mine (we work in a biological lab and our fish spawn every few weeks), upon learning of her pregnancy, said, "Yeah, I'm spawning." She also called her fetus F2 for awhile (bad geneticist joke). Still, most moms don't like scientific terms applied to their children, even if it is perfectly scientifically appropriate. So while, when I have kids in the future, I may jokingly refer to them as offspring, zygotes, spawn, etc., maybe it's best to refrain from such on this board. Just to keep the peace.

Posted by: Mona | January 9, 2007 11:34 AM

No the median income in the DC area was around 74K. In the two wealthiest counties, Loudon and Fairfax, the median income was around 90K. That means half the households had less then the 74K and half had more then the 74K. So 150K is still in the upper tail of the distribution. You would need to know the Standard deviation to determine what quartile that is in. But my guess is 150K is still in the top 20%. My family of three lives pretty well on 175K. We have one DD who we pay for full time day care and preschool. We bought in 2001, which was right before things went crazy in real estate. I would consider ourselves upper middle class. Not wealthy but certainly better then modest.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 9, 2007 11:34 AM

Speaking of resume gaps... how difficult is it for SAHM's to get back into the workforce? Do any just stay a home longer because they cannot find a job?

I'd be pretty scared; I was not working for one year while I was pregnant, in grad school, and having my child. While interviewing I was often asked about this year gap and I was easily able to explain that I was in grad school full time. I was relieved to have this as an excuse rather than explain my family situation and possibly face discrimination/the mommy track.

Posted by: single mom | January 9, 2007 11:37 AM

You know how some on this board hate that term.

Everyone on the board should hate that term. It's not very nice way to refer to children.

Posted by: scarry | January 9, 2007 11:37 AM

CBC: Boy you are one unhappy person. If you hate families with kids, why are you here?

Posted by: foamgnome | January 9, 2007 11:40 AM

Do you all have any idea of what the tyical median household income IS in the DC area? The poster who said that $150,000 is not 'modest' is 100% correct.

MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOMES -US CENSUS
DC 47,221
Prince George 63,365
Silver Spring 59,490
Alexandria (county) 66,116
Manassas Park 60,794
Bethesda 99,102
Falls Church 74,924

$150,000 is anywhere from 50% more to300% more than everyone else. Not exactly a 'modest median' income by anyone's standards.

Those 2500-4000 sq ft McMansions are expensive. So are SUVS. Guess that is how you justify the fantasy that $150,000 is 'modest.'

Posted by: economist | January 9, 2007 11:40 AM

Do you all have any idea of what the tyical median household income IS in the DC area? The poster who said that $150,000 is not 'modest' is 100% correct.

MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOMES -US CENSUS
DC 47,221
Prince George 63,365
Silver Spring 59,490
Alexandria (county) 66,116
Manassas Park 60,794
Bethesda 99,102
Falls Church 74,924

$150,000 is anywhere from 50% more to300% more than everyone else. Not exactly a 'modest median' income by anyone's standards.

Those 2500-4000 sq ft McMansions are expensive. So are SUVS. Guess that is how you justify the fantasy that $150,000 is 'modest.'

Posted by: economist | January 9, 2007 11:41 AM

" It's awful that "part time" is 7 hours/day"

7 hours a day, especially if it is 7 hours without leaving the office for lunch, makes a huge difference in the time you leave the office. It also is "part time" as in less than 40 hours a week, but is officially considered "full time", as in 32 hours or greater, which qualifies for benefits.

Posted by: KS | January 9, 2007 11:44 AM

Foamgnome, Thanks for the clear breakdown.

Sad as it is to say, Washington DC and its environs are home to lots of families who live in cheap but congested, unsafe parts of the city, earn very little and barely squeak by. Even with a majority of the city's population working non-professional jobs, we still manage to achieve a median income that is higher than the rest of the country. Imagine what our averages would look like if we used the incomes of chatters on this board, rathter than the greater DC area!

The claim that $75-100k is average, with $150k and above being comfortable, is about my experience. My husband and I look at our combined income and our eyes pop out. We've never seen so much money! Then somehow, at the end of the month (once the bills are all paid) we're right where we would have been if we'd never moved here.

Posted by: To Foamgnome | January 9, 2007 11:46 AM

CBC: Boy you are one unhappy person. If you hate families with kids, why are you here?

Posted by: foamgnome | January 9, 2007 11:46 AM

CBC: Boy you are one unhappy person. If you hate families with kids, why are you here?

Posted by: foamgnome | January 9, 2007 11:46 AM

Heck yeah our day care provider is helping to raise our child! We need all the help we can get, not because we are working parents but because we are inexperienced. We welcome her insight and suggestions (never offered, only given when solicited). Why wouldn't you want the help of someone with 30+ years of experience? I haven't even had 2! Her advice is also a lot easier to take than that of your parents. She's great, and we appreciate all she's doing to help us raise our son.

Posted by: Help raising kids | January 9, 2007 11:48 AM

Foamgnome, Thanks for the clear breakdown.

Sad as it is to say, Washington DC and its environs are home to lots of families who live in cheap but congested, unsafe parts of the city, earn very little and barely squeak by. Even with a majority of the city's population working non-professional jobs, we still manage to achieve a median income that is higher than the rest of the country. Imagine what our averages would look like if we used the incomes of chatters on this board, rathter than the greater DC area!

The claim that $75-100k is average, with $150k and above being comfortable, is about my experience. My husband and I look at our combined income and our eyes pop out. We've never seen so much money! Then somehow, at the end of the month (once the bills are all paid) we're right where we would have been if we'd never moved here.

Posted by: To Foamgnome | January 9, 2007 11:49 AM

sorry for the multiple CBC posts. I don't know why that happens.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 9, 2007 11:50 AM

Perhaps CBC is bitter that she cannot have children, nor cannot find someone to have them with... often when I cannot get something that I want I pretend to not have wanted it in the first place, and if it was something that I really wanted can cannot have start talking about the problems/things wrong with the item... maybe it is the same. Parents like their spawn and rug rats (though at times they are trying) that is why we chose to have them. If we did not want them we'd have abortions or use birth control - or as Bush would prefer - not have sex

Posted by: single mom | January 9, 2007 11:50 AM

Rebecca asked why this debate is about moms who WANT to work rather than NEED to - I just wanted to say that it's because we've had so many discussions on this blog that jumped all over the notion of "need". I actually think wanting to work is far less contentious, because I do think moms should pick the situation that makes them most happy.
And I wanted to second all the posters who said that teaching a work ethic has nothing to do with paid employment - great stories!

Posted by: TakomaMom | January 9, 2007 11:53 AM

I maintain (old argument) that how cash-strapped you are mostly depends on when you bought your house.

If you were lucky to buy something in 2001 or sooner, you probably have discretionary income at the end of the month, even if your household is making "only" $100k/year. If you were unlucky enough to buy in, say, 2005, your $200k/year household probably has "only" a tad more discretionary income every month than the first couple. In conversations with other couples, that always seems to be the main driver.

I say "only", because if you've got some way to read this board, you're probably better off than a lot of people. We should all be thankful for how good we have it.

Posted by: Random Guy | January 9, 2007 11:53 AM

Randomguy: add in # of kids in full time, part time or no day care and public versus private school. Although some would argue private school is a luxury.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 9, 2007 11:56 AM

For Diane, Baltimore,
I am the child of a working Mom and for a while I used to wish my Mom stayed at home some time with me (mostly because I didn't have a lot of kids my age around me, but that is another story of small town life). That was until she retired and truly became stay at home when I was in college. OMG, she tried to smother me. She wanted to know everything I did, everyone I talked to, and everywhere I went. I know not all stay at homes are this smothering to a college-age daughter, but mine was. To this day, I still wish she would find some kind of work to do, so that she would stop working vicariously through me. I know this will probably piss some people off on this blog, but this is my experience as a child of a working mother. Working for my mother made her more sane and less smothering.

Posted by: Tina | January 9, 2007 11:58 AM

Mona, the most insulting term I've ever heard to describe children came from this blog: Crotchfruit.

I admit I laughed out loud when I read it.

BTW: I happen to like CBC

Posted by: Father of 4 | January 9, 2007 11:59 AM

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you to Cop mom and anyone who jumped on "Don't get it". Women like "don't" set us back and it is difficult not to judge harshly that individual's intelligence. Further more, quite frankly, I have been a SAHM for nine years and three children and am hard pressed to find anyone - whether dropping off or picking up at preschool or picking up older ones at the bus stop OR meeting for coffee inbetween - willling to discuss anything but husbands and childcare - just TRY to get these suburban moms to even discuss anything remotely provocative, controversial, political, religious, etc. 'Sadam" who?

Well-educated, Well-read SAHM mom myth.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 11:59 AM

Single mom, I can to some extent answer your question about "how difficult is it for SAHM's to get back into the workforce? Do any just stay a home longer because they cannot find a job?"

I stayed home with my children for four years. When I decided to return to work, I figured it would take me a while to get a job that I liked which would cover the costs of child care and leave money left over. I was wrong -- it took me a few short weeks, as I indicated earlier. I know lots of women who have returned to the work force after staying at home, and a few had some problems, but mostly because they were unrealistic in their expectations about what they were worth. Let's face it, if you take 6 years off to raise your family, you will not return to the work world making what you would have been making if you'd been full-time in that career (instead of at home). I'm using the example of a friend who for whatever reason feels very entitled to make that salary and is pretty pissed at the world that it hasn't happened for her. C'est la vie. Most moms returning to the workplace look for flexibility, short commute, things like that. I was fortunate to find a salaried position in the field I'd left and which I like, but I was exploring other opportunities which also appealed in some way.

There are SAHMs I know who do stay at home because they're scared. One of my friends who used to be a teacher for 8 years before having children told me that she no longer felt she would be able to handle the responsibility of a classroom on top of managing her family of 5. I say it's all in what you want to do and what you feel you can do. No guts, no glory.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | January 9, 2007 12:00 PM

Economist... you left out Fairfax County...Median Household income $90,000. Median Market Value of homes $349,000. So, $150K is above average but certainly not wealthy.

Posted by: trieditall | January 9, 2007 12:02 PM

Hoosier - loved your 11:11 post! Sometimes this blog makes me feel like the most unambitious loser ever! I work good ol' 9 to 5 for the government (at the very bottom of the ladder) and have no power whatsoever :) but also not too many complaints about my "balance" - I think I am using a different standard of comparison most of the time ... DC is not the standard-setter for the world ...

Posted by: TakomaMom | January 9, 2007 12:03 PM

I read this blog pretty regularly and particularly appreciated today's posting. Just thought I would share my story.

When my first child was born, the thought of even turning him over to the hospital staff for a vital signs check upset me a bit. I wanted to hold him, to stare at him, all the time. We had struggled to have children, and there he was, this perfect, beautiful little being. It sounds funny now, but even taking a shower away from him was an effort. I wanted to observe and treasure every little thing. I hated that he grew so quickly; I even cried when he outgrew his first size of clothing and I had to put them away. Having a baby made me realize the passage of time, the transitory nature of life, and the power of love in new ways.

When he was 14 weeks old, I had to go back to work. I was fulfilling a contract obligation, and to have left at that point would have shattered my career and also put a significant burden on coworkers. We also needed my salary as a cushion, which came in handy when my husband was laid off for a few months the following year.

I went through what so many other working moms do -- struggling to find private places to breastpump, explaining to a harried boss that I needed to go home because my son had pinkeye, being viewed as a mom instead of a 'normal' employee. I struggled to keep up with the changes in my field (medicine), much less keep up with current events or the latest happenings in the arts. (By the way, the thought of even having time to watch reality TV during those years makes me smile).

By contract, I had to work nights, weekends, up to 80 hours per week. Every last bit of free time was spent trying to maintain strong relationships with my son and husband. I love to cook, but felt like I barely had time to boil pasta and pour bottled sauce over it. The garden went to seed. I wore my hair long because I didn't have time to go the salon for trims. If I exercised at all, it was running to codes at the hospital or taking a walk with husband and baby so we could be together. There were many days that I cried in the car after dropping my son off at daycare (even though the ladies there are patient, loving and really wonderful). We survived because I knew my residency years wouldn't last forever.

2 years later, we were blessed with another son, and I experienced all of the same highs and lows. This time, however, there was a difference. I was finishing up my contract and looking forward to a new job. I looked into not working at all, but with medical school loans to pay and quite frankly 7 years of hell behind me to get to where I could be a doctor on my own terms, it just didn't seem feasible to stop. Also, I am fortunate to have a job (primary care) where I think I can make the world a better place. I'm proud of what I do, and I want my sons to learn the joys of working and helping others. In the end, part-time work was the best choice for me.

In medicine, part-time work is coming into its own but is having a lot of growing pains. It took me many months to convince potential employers that part-time employment was feasible and did not equate to slacking off. I did find a position, and so far it's going well. I know that I won't advance quickly, if at all, but at least I'm still doing work that makes a difference. Quite frankly, no one goes into primary care for the glory and the big bucks anyway.

As for home life, it's also improved. The kids aren't at daycare from 7 to 6 anymore. Friends and family are pleasantly surprised that I have nights and weekends mostly free. I'm back to cooking (sometimes) and hoping to attack the garden mess once the weather warms up. Daily yoga is one of my new years resolutions, too.

I'm hoping I've created more balance for the little ones as well. The morning hours at daycare give them a safe, stimulating environment with other kids and some nurturing adults. The afternoon hours they spend with me and we have already grown closer.

I can't emphasize enough that employers need to make part-time work available. Frankly, materialism and stress have taken over our society. We all need time to decompress and spend time with our loved ones, especially those of us with young children. Imagine how energized and refreshed everyone would be if they could work only 4 to 6 hours a day. I suspect that many of the stress-related illnesses I see every day at work would become rather rare.

I understand that not everyone can afford to cut back on working hours, but for me it's been a wonderful solution.

Posted by: MomMD | January 9, 2007 12:04 PM

really! what about us? we commute 3 hours a day, we work 9.5 hours a day, we go home and take care of the kids so mommy can have "me time" and EVEN THEN we have to beg for sex? WTF?!

HAHAHAHAHA! Maybe because she doesn't want another one to care for? Maybe afterwards (after you've fallen asleep, of course) she lies there, worried about how to care for another potential child? Maybe you're not good in bed? Maybe it's unbecoming to beg for it? Maybe if you didn't begrudge her "me time" she'd be more receptive?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 12:08 PM

cop mom - I think you would be surprised at the number of men that would stay at home if it benefitted the family/careers/children. I know my husband would - he always teases me my that earning potential is better and he'd love to stay home and eat bon-bons (just kidding)! Unfortunately or fortunately, I am not a Type A - I don't want to be the President of my organization, work 60-70 hours/week and travel all the time. NO thanks!

Posted by: cmac | January 9, 2007 12:09 PM

Great post. Perhaps somehow businesses could be made to see how the bottom line (including health care costs) could improve with more part-time options. Sometimes balance really is just about more time.

Posted by: to MOM MD | January 9, 2007 12:11 PM

I had plenty of stimulating conversation as a stay at home mom because I was a PTA volunteer who worked as a legislative advocate... emailing and calling state and national representatives about bills of interest to schools and children. Those who want to find something interesting can certainly find it with a little effort.
...and I am not a lawyer. Just a citizen who wanted to be active in advocating for what I thought the government should be doing to improve education. Every parent can and should be doing that!!

Posted by: trieditall | January 9, 2007 12:12 PM

really! what about us? we commute 3 hours a day, we work 9.5 hours a day, we go home and take care of the kids so mommy can have "me time" and EVEN THEN we have to beg for sex? WTF?!

Where is his "me time?" Maybe she is just lazy.You know they make this new thing called birth control too.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 12:12 PM

Yay for Stephanie! I'm a junior lawyer and am very much looking forward to having kids some day. But I have to confess that reading this blog and several other mommy blogs usually leaves me convinced that I'll never be able to make it work. (Why I continue to read this blog, despite the fact that it's incredibly depressing, is a question I'll leave to my future therapist, I guess!) It is SO refreshing to hear Stephanie's take on being both a lawyer and a mom. Thanks!

Posted by: Brooklyn | January 9, 2007 12:13 PM

"If your kids are more important than anything else, why would you have a non-family member raise them?"

She is raising them, the same way my father raised me - by earning the money to provide food, shelter, clothes, etc. for them as well as spending time with them when she's not on the job.

"It strikes me as odd that people in general are OK with this comment (which I have heard many, many times over the years) from a working parent, but a SAHM would be absolutely attacked if she said: 'I am a better parent, a better role model, and a better person because I stay home with my children.' "

Absolutely? I thought that would depend on whether her spouse or her trust fund or the welfare system supported her staying at home.

"Do people really expect you to be homeschooling your children?"

Yeah, some people really prefer homeschooling or unschooling to classrooms.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 12:14 PM

Every parent can and should be doing that!!

Really? Do tell how we can all fit this into our schedules?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 12:14 PM

"At 34, I'm not sure if I qualify as an 'older working mom.'"

You don't. It's not even close.

Posted by: Older Dad | January 9, 2007 12:15 PM

"I know lots of women who have returned to the work force after staying at home, and a few had some problems, but mostly because they were unrealistic in their expectations about what they were worth."
That statement may be your experience, but it's not my own. I have seen many friends leave the workplace only to find that they're unable to go back. And it's not, as you suggest, b/c they believe that they're entitled to something unreasonable. Perhaps it depends on your career field... but in many, once you're out, you'll struggle to get back in - if you can get back in at all. Certainly, there's no guarantee either way, and thus, it's perfectly fair for a woman to take that possibility into consideration when making her choice.

Posted by: hurricanewarningdc | January 9, 2007 12:18 PM

"Mona, the most insulting term I've ever heard to describe children came from this blog: Crotchfruit."

Insulting? Yes. Hilarious? YES.

Sorry, I know that's rude, but it is creative.

Posted by: Mona | January 9, 2007 12:19 PM

With the mention of economics and income above, here is a question for those who use childcare either through a daily or live-in nanny, au pair, or daycare or any other arrangement where you pay someone to care for the children.

Does your childcare provider make enough money to:

(1) Make enough money to be meet the standard for Economic Self-Sufficiency? For a single person, that generally means about 60% of an area's median household income; and for someone who is a single parent with 2 children that means about 80% of an area's median household income. (If you provide housing and food, deduct that cost to get the number for economic self-sufficiency with respect to transportation, healthcare etc.)

(2) Have health insurance

Now Economic Self-Sufficiency budgets do NOT include buying a vehicle, saving for retirement or emergencies, or anything for clothing (beyond Salvation Army); and are probably inadequate for purchasing health insurance if the person is over 30 or has any kind of minor health problem (acne or asthma are examples of things that will jack the rates up.)

Or is the childcare and instance of the upper-middle class and up taking advantage of the lower income group? Or, for those who must work to provide basic shelter, food and necessities, having to settle for whatever can they can get for childcare?

If you are in the 60th percentile and up of incomes in your area and your childcare provider does not make enough for self-sufficiency or healthcare, don't you think you are being exploitive and should pay more?


Posted by: whatever | January 9, 2007 12:19 PM

"I don't know...maybe what LawyerMama meant was that she's happier, and more able to impart happiness to her children, because she works."

That's not the point. SAHM's are crucified in this forum for saying the same thing - "I'm happier, and more able to impart happiness to my children, because I stay home." That's seen as some sort of attack on working moms, or "letting down the team."

"Well-educated, Well-read SAHM mom myth."

Cheap shot. I suspect most of them simply found your politics obnoxious. Your posting certainly is.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 12:22 PM

I'm with you (though I live in Manhattan).
Especially hearing how $150,000/year income is considered modest.
Our household income is about 1/3 that.
The 750 sq ft 2-bedroom places for sale in my neighborhood are around $350,000.

Posted by: To Brooklyn | January 9, 2007 12:24 PM

No, I don't think it is explotive. It what the market will bear. Also keep in mind the job skills and education required to do child care is generally lower then the professional class that you are comparing it to. On the other hand, the day care workers in the day care that DD goes to make approximately 25K a year. They are all married women who have spouses that have medical benefits. They are allowed two free day care spots for their own children, which runs 15K a year. If you have an older school aged child, they can also come to the center for after school care for free. NO limit on number of children. But all the parents have no more then two children. So take the 30K + tax free benefit and add another 15% to account for taxes, that gives you a benefit of 34.5K plus their 25K salary. That takes them to 59.5K which is self sustaining. Again, this is all with out a college degree. Plus they can see their own children 24 hours a day.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 9, 2007 12:25 PM

Brooklyn,
I'm with you (on wondering if I can handle kids/work/balance
Especially hearing how $150,000/year income (in DC) is considered modest.
I live in Manhattan.
Our household income is about 1/3 that.
The 750 sq ft 2-bedroom places for sale in my neighborhood are around $350,000.

Posted by: To Brooklyn | January 9, 2007 12:27 PM

""Mona, the most insulting term I've ever heard to describe children came from this blog: Crotchfruit." ... Insulting? Yes. Hilarious? YES. ... Sorry, I know that's rude, but it is creative."

Please grow up, people. If anything equally crude and insulting had been said about:

1) working women;
2) women in general;
3) members of a particular racial group;
4) moms;
5) members of a particular religious group;
6) obese individuals;
7) feminists;
8) liberals;
9) homosexuals; or
10) disabled individuals

then 90% of the participants on this blog would have gone balistic.

You should be ashamed of yourselves. Whether you choose to be a parent or not, whether you choose to stay at home with your kids or not, you should not be aiming this sort of stupid "joke" at anyone.

Posted by: Demos | January 9, 2007 12:27 PM

Hurricane Warning DC -- I agree that there is no guarantee that once you're out, you'll get back in. But there are no guarantees in life. I have friends who were SAHMs who had worked in many fields -- sales, advertising, IT, education, law, etc. -- all of them returned to the work force when they decided it was time within a reasonable period after looking (reasonable = within 6 months). I also know women who switched careers when they returned to work and were able to do so successfully. We have all struggeled with work-life balance, but finding a job was not a problem.

Not to negate what you're saying -- just that my experience has been different, and I think fear holds too many women back from doing just about everything.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | January 9, 2007 12:28 PM

I agree with the point that interesting/nice people are interesting whether SAHMs or WOHMs or childless (or even Dads!)... but I think it is may be easier to find a cohort of friends with similar backgrounds and interests on the job. I also find some work very satisfying (I am computer scientist) that I really doubt I would ever do without the motivation of my job (kind of like an intellectual personal trainer). Working with colleagues on a project is also a bit different than conversing about books, sports, etc. - for both better and worse.
I know I am particularly lucky in my job - but I think there are a few other white collar brats in my boat on this board.
I don't have kids, by my impression is that the other thing you can get on the job more than at home is hours of solitude to get lost in a project...

Posted by: lazy | January 9, 2007 12:30 PM

I love how people say they are sorry right after they say something rude.

Mona is conceited, sorry.

Childless by choice is a nasty fill in the blank _______, sorry

Father of 4, is sexist, sorry.

There that makes it all better.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 12:32 PM

You are not making any sense.

Posted by: to Demos | January 9, 2007 12:33 PM

Thanks, LawyerMama, for helping those of us who work by choice to know that we are not alone. Among the many reasons that I've continued working (now 4 days/week) since the birth of my three daughters: being grateful for the opportunity to do the work I feel I have been called to do professionally, and the desire to show my daughters that it can be done. Given the state of this world and our economy, I'm guessing that working will probably be a necessity for each of them. I want them to have some frame of reference for integrating it into their everyday lives, and to see that it can add, not subtract, to their lives as adults and mothers. I proudly employ a nanny, miraculously the same woman for the last 14 years, and am home every working day at 4:30. I'm tired, but I am mothering in every sense of that word. I make no apologies for any of these choices.

Posted by: lifermom | January 9, 2007 12:35 PM

I think she makes perfect sense.

Posted by: to to demos | January 9, 2007 12:35 PM

Chalk me up as one of the women who, like the blogger, likes working and wants to work. (I hate the "well, I work because I need to" argument, too.) My husband is a lawyer and we had our first child the same month he graduated from law school. When he was looking for a job he considered both firm jobs and gov't jobs. A firm job would have meant not just that I could stay home (because he would have made twice as much as me) but that I probably would HAVE to stay home. Given the 80-hour weeks that new associates have to put in, I would have had to take on all of the house/child duties and I just couldn't see how to balance that with my demanding career. Luckily, he had worked in a law firm over the summer and saw what life was like there, and clerked for a judge for a year with normal hours, and, after comparing the two experiences, decided that he wanted to spend time with his family even if it meant a lot less money and prestige. It's fine with me--I'd rtaher keep working anyhow and like having him home for dinner every night. Together, we are plenty comfortable salary-wise and we're both able to juggle things to handle pickeye and snow days and things like that, and still have some time for ourselves. I'm happy that we have both been able to make choices for our careers and family--I dind't have to give up my career when we had kids, and he didn't have to take an all-consuming job to support us at the expense of being with us.

Posted by: Arlmom | January 9, 2007 12:35 PM

OK, what is the minimum age to be considered an older mom? I was 33 when DD was born and I think I was old enough to be professionally established but would not have considered me an older mom. But DD #2 will be 38 when we complete our adoption. Then I would say I was an older mom of my youngest child.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 9, 2007 12:35 PM

Thanks for the blog. I too have managed to find a balance between work and being a parent--in no small part due to a flexible work environment. What I would love to hear from others is how you find the balance when the kids are a little older, in school and after school activities? Our children are still small and I'm beginning to realize that this is actually an easier time to achieve balance. Any takers out there willing to give balance advice for the school age working parents?

Posted by: bankingmom | January 9, 2007 12:37 PM

"Well-educated, Well-read SAHM mom myth" - While I think some modesty might suit you well, it is difficult to find people with whom you have things in common. I'm not sure if Pick up/drop off is the time to be discusssing women's rights in China. Maybe if you got some of these people in a more neutral environment, the real person inside might come out. When you are with your kids you do tend to get in a zone where that is what you are doing and it is sometimes a hard shift to make. That said, remember that a lot of the people you used to work with were probably stupid and shallow - you shouldn't expect any more from the suburbs. I think its hard to find, smart, witty, funny, informed, curious and engaging people any where not just with SAHMS (current blog company excluded of course)

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 12:39 PM

anon at 12:32: I'm sorry.

:-)

Posted by: Mona | January 9, 2007 12:40 PM

"It strikes me as odd that people in general are OK with this comment (which I have heard many, many times over the years) from a working parent, but a SAHM would be absolutely attacked if she said: "I am a better parent, a better role model, and a better person because I stay home with my children."

Hmmm, I guess that's just different experiences, because I have heard many SAHMs say this same thing, without being attacked for it (this blog doesn't count, since anyone can be (and is) attacked for anything here). I know a lot of SAHMs for whom that statement is true, so it wouldn't occur to me to disparage them for recognizing that. Heck, if you have a choice to WOH or not, wouldn't that be why you make either choice?

I really enjoyed the blog entry today, because I'm another one of those moms who works by choice. I have been home alone with a small infant, and as much as I love love love my daughter, I was miserable doing that all day, every day. Yes, there were options for "personal fulfillment" that I could have pursued if I had truly believed that my staying home would be best for my daughter. But I grew up with a working mother myself, so it just never occurred to me that sending my kids to daycare would harm them in any way, or that staying home would be so beneficial to them that I should sacrifice everything else to do so.

And for us, it has worked very well. I am much happier devoting part of my day to my career -- it satisfies that side of my brain, and lets me achieve things that I have worked toward since I was in school. The time away from my kids refreshes me and makes me eager to be with them (not to mention giving me more patience when the family Putz Gene makes its inevitable appearance). My husband is thrilled that he can quit any time he can't stand the politics and bullhockey any more. And my kids are much happier, too -- it really surprised me how quickly my daughter developed her own little world and social network at preschool and then kindergarten that is completely independent of me, and how proud of herself she is when she navigates and manages that world all by herself.

It's not anywhere near perfect. I chose to compromise my upward mobility and earning potential for the time being -- I'm a partner, but I work at 80%, because it's more important to have evenings and weekends with my family. My husband took a less-than-ideal job so I could be near my work and our families. And on a day-to-day basis, it still doesn't always work out as I'd like. As I wrote last week, the last two months have basically sucked, as work is very busy and my son has been chronically sick (2 ER trips in the past month, 5 significant illnesses since 11/1, etc.). Right now, I feel like I'm failing everyone, and I'd give my eyeteeth to win the damn MegaMillions and not have to worry about all this any more (island with nanny, housekeeper, chef, and masseuse, here I come). But I also know that this will pass, that there will be other good days that make up for the current pile o' stress, and that in the long-term view, I'm exceedingly lucky to be able to have so much of what I hoped for out of life.

Posted by: Laura | January 9, 2007 12:41 PM

Medically speaking, you are considered to be an older mom (at greater risk) if you become pregnant or will deliver at the age of 35 or above.

Posted by: Dr. Mom | January 9, 2007 12:41 PM

A couple of things:

First, I wonder how much of the idea that there are only two poles, that of super-harried, 80-hours-a-week jobs or SAHM'ing, is unique to DC (or perhaps other large cities)? I think DC is an outlier in many ways. People who live in Houston or Boise or Madison don't have quite the same conundrum. Yes, I know many people live and work in DC because their jobs are here and the vast majority of the jobs in their fields are here.

Second, the elephant in the SAHM room is divorce. I honestly don't mean to sound like a fuddy-duddy or Pat Robertson, and yes, I know divorce is sometimes the only or best option, but it seems that long-term SAHMs often find themselves in peril when their husbands up and divorce them. Ann Crittenden, author of "The Price of Motherhood" (and herself a tireless advocate for moms and families) proposed what she called share-the-pain divorce laws, where the higher earner forked over much more of his or her income to the primary caregiver so the kids would not suffer. She also thought this would discourage divorce because it would make it so much more costly to just walk away.

Posted by: Flyonthewall | January 9, 2007 12:41 PM

Well, well...must have picked the right topic today. Some old names from out of the foggy past have reappeared today on the blog...haven't seen CBC and some of the others post for along time. Like Fof4, CBC occasionally amuses me too...when gratuitous swipes aren't involved.

Liked the posts by Rockville and foamgnome.

Many are setting up the regular straw men to immediately beat them down again. Most are getting called on it, so nothing major to add there.

I have been reinforced like others over time in this forum that one size doesn't fit all. That Type A "just gotta work" folks are never going to be truly happy without WOH experience, and will chew nails otherwise. And those people pressured to work (for whatever reason) will always feel shortchanged/guilty. So we continue our ongoing balance discussion in this blog then hits many of us who live somewhere in the middle of these two poles.

I will repeat again a point that got me in trouble before, though it wasn't meant to be judgmental. I find it an interesting commentary and sociological question. Since I failed to do so before, maybe typing it out this time I will phrase it in the way that won't offend...I am truly curious about it:

It is only over this last generation that we have raised a large number of children with no SAHP, especially when they are young. (Jobs once all kids are in school is kind of a different question--maybe another day.) We have all heard about the importance of early childhood interaction and bonding, yet many of us are no longer there for a large part of the young child's waking day. So the point is that we as a society are (like with global warming) going into uncharted territory, and the returns on the effects are just being to come in.

IN the end, it boils down to the bottom line. ON AVERAGE, are we as a society raising just as good, well adjusted children as we have always raised? Does our (let's face it, relatively new habit) of having two FT working parents through most of a child's (especially early lives) leave us, our kids, and society better off? Are the justifications we make for our choices reasonable (we hope they are) or are they just to make ourselves feel better for the choices that we make?

These are hard questions (not intended to be loaded, thought he baggage associated with them is). I offer once again that we as a society are off on a massive, uncontrolled experience on this topic, and we better hope that our answer is right on the larger picture and longer term. Because if it isn't, then we need to worry a lot more and a lot harder about society, workplace, family economic needs, and balance than we are now.

I hope this came out better this time, since I got blasted for it before...the desire is not to offer personal value judgement, but to ask are we a society doing the right thing?

Thoughts??

Especially about the larger picture, rather than the exceptions? BTW, the whole normal standard disclaimer applies.

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | January 9, 2007 12:42 PM

Foamgnome, after you break 40, you are not young any more.; hence the term older. Of coarse, just because you are more than 40 years old, doesn't make you "old", it just implies that you are wiser and more mature than someone who is "young".

Posted by: Father of 4 | January 9, 2007 12:46 PM

Given the skill level of many of the women who provide day care or work as nannies, they may be making a LOT of money, comparatively. Watching 2 babies in your home for $200 a week is $20,000 a year with fairly low expenses and you can be home with YOUR kids. I can't think of any other job a low-skilled person can do out of their own home (which enables them to avoid child-care costs) and get paid that much, actually.

Posted by: to whatever | January 9, 2007 12:46 PM

I don't understand why anyone would criticize anybody for being happy. It's not as though happiness is a pie and if one person has a slice there is less to go around.

This mother sounds happy and as though she and her children's co-author has managed to get thinks "just-so". Nothing wrong with that.

I don't get why fathers (overall) aren't being grilled on what they do, for how long, why, etc.

As for SAHparents vs. working outside-the-home parents, I don't know ANY parent who operates in a VACUUM. Sometimes a SAH needs to get out and away, and usually you can find someone who will give you a break; ditto for working parents.

All this wailing and gnashing of teeth is counterproductive and energy-wasting, ultimately.

I chose the easy road. I worked damn hard in school, went to college, then got out and found a decent job (one that pays for our family's health care, provides me with a match for my 401K, is sufficiently flexible regarding children's needs [and mine] for appointments, illness, etc.). I have friends who took the harder road and played around in school, graduated, got get-by-jobs that turned into can't-escape-from-them jobs, and are still raising their families too.

I don't feel obliged to justify my decisions, nor should anyone else.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 12:48 PM

Aw, come on Father of 4! We all know women are old once they become broodmares. Just what they are meant to be, right?

Speaking of, how did your wife like the new mop for Christmas? Or did you decide to upgrade and give her a vacuum perhaps? Do tell!

Posted by: to Fo4 | January 9, 2007 12:50 PM

Finally, lunch and an opportunity to check out this blog, though I can't get through the majority of the posts. Texas Dad of 2, you are speaking to something on my mind a lot these days. I don't think society at large does better than the parents at many things, and certainly not parenting.

I'm a working mom who used to stay home and I'm thinking that after two years of working full-time, I'm going to quit and stay home again. I do like working but it comes at an intangible cost for my family and I think my family is happier if a parent stays home. My husband is by far the breadwinner, so financially it makes more sense for me to leave than him. My kids don't deserve to be woken up early to go to before school care, bussed to school, schooled all day, and then bussed to after school care so that one of us can pick them up. It is not what I envisioned when I thought about having kids. If that means we have less of the luxuries of life, so be it. If it means I work until I'm 65 instead of 55, so be it. I'm not willing to sacrifice my kids for the sake of having nicer vacations and newer cars.

Posted by: KatieMc | January 9, 2007 12:53 PM

"Medically speaking, you are considered to be an older mom (at greater risk) if you become pregnant or will deliver at the age of 35 or above."

Why is that? I see some very healthy 35-40 year old women running around pregnant and some very unhealthy pregnant younger women. Who decides that older women are high risk and why is it such a broad label?

I also saw a report that they now recommend downs syndrome testing for everyone and that age may not be a factor.

Posted by: scarry | January 9, 2007 12:54 PM

To texas Dad of 2

Maybe things are different in TX, but I'm from the East Coast and this is the *second* generation of kids being raised with two working parents (my own being the first--it was the boomer women who went into the workforce en masse 30 years ago). I was born in the early 70's and most of my friends had mothers who worked outside the home--many in traditional "pink-collar" jobs, to be sure--but most people did not have mom waiting for them at the bus stop. My parents' sisters (parents are boomer generation) all worked. My parents' friends' wives mostly worked. As far as I can tell, us kids all turned out pretty much fine. In my experience, children of divorced parents have a much harder time than children of working moms. That, I think, is the bigger sociological experiment of the GenX generation, and one that may impact our families and kids going forward (for better or for worse remains to be seen....)

Posted by: Arlmom | January 9, 2007 12:55 PM

Does anyone think that for some men having a stay at home wife is a status symbol?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 12:56 PM

Your risks for certain birth defects (such as Downs syndrome) and pregnancy/childbirth complications increase significantly at 35, though the overall risks are still slight.

Posted by: Dr Mom | January 9, 2007 12:58 PM

Does anyone think that for some men having a stay at home wife is a status symbol?

Maybe to some men, but I also know a few women who want to marry someone who will take care of them and earn a good wage so I think it goes both ways. I even know w few women who want to marry lawyers, doctors, etc.

Posted by: scarry | January 9, 2007 12:59 PM

KatieMc - Kudos - my sentiments exactly.

Posted by: CMAC | January 9, 2007 1:01 PM

"Does anyone think that for some men having a stay at home wife is a status symbol?"

Yeah, I think some men do take pride in "my wife doesn't have to work." Or worse, "we can't afford health insurance, but no wife of mine is gonna work!" (I actually know people like this!)

Posted by: Mona | January 9, 2007 1:01 PM

Two FT working parents is a new norm?

Bull!

BOTH of my great-grandparents worked (immigrants) on both sides of the family, ditto for my grandparents, parents and myself.

Has anyone asked any of their AA friends whether or not working outside the home full-time is a new thing within their family or not? I grew up in a town that was 50:50 and I can't remember a single friend, white OR black, who had a sah parent. Unless someone was laid off, or fired. And then it was understood that mom or dad was damn right on the lookout for another job--homelessness was NOT a fun option. Of course, I wasn't running around with a clipboard asking about it either!

Maybe it's new for some in our society, but not for this Polack, nor for my sister's in-laws who are black.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 1:03 PM

We make about 5K per month take home (after health insurance deductions, 401K, etc)

2000 goes to rent- for a 900 sq ft 2 bdr, no way we can afford to buy.
1300 goes to childcare for 1 child

that's 66% of our income

DC public schools are AWFUL so we either move to the burbs and spend more money on another car and gas and insurance - not to mention commuting time or we fork it over to private school for 2K/month and pray for aid, but we;re not poor, we're not rich ,so we get screwed as usual

Posted by: DC is EXPENSIVE! | January 9, 2007 1:04 PM

Yikes Mona - they must be awesome to hang with! haha. good to see you today.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 9, 2007 1:05 PM

DC is EXPENSIVE! You betcha - that's why dh and I left. We knew that I wanted to stay at home and we thought that the "price" (literal cost and time) was too high in the DC metro area. We live in suburban Philadelphia (25 mi. out)and have a house and a yard and I can stay home. In fact our mortgage payment is just $200 more than our 2BR in Pentagon City 7 years ago. We are lucky that we had the option. That said, I do miss DC terribly an it has a lot to offer to adults and families as well.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 9, 2007 1:08 PM

>I even know a few women who want to marry lawyers, doctors, etc.

Was that tongue in cheek, scarry?? :~)

Bad girl...that Irish sense of humor hopping out today, I suppose...

And ARlMom: good point about divorce affecting the picture. Throwing htat extra wiggle into the equation would have added a bunch more to consider, so I left it out. But it clearly a good point and a main factor over the last generation or so. As always, single parents by whatever reason always have my utmost respect. I have a hard enough time (along with a spouse) making things go...

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | January 9, 2007 1:09 PM

I have not had time to read everything today but wanted to put in my two cents. For the question --for FT workers doesn't PT appeal to you? I think the answer is yes, but I am the type of person that if I had extra time on my hands, I would run both kids PTA, be a classroom mom at both schools etc. I would fill my time with that type of activity and would spend just as much time with my kids as I do now. Although I would see the kids as classroom mom, I would not really be interacting with them. I know me, and that is how I am so I would rather work FT and make the accompanying money. If that makes me a bad person/mother, so be it. I can live with people having that opinion. I dont have that opinion and neither does my husband. :)

Posted by: Marie | January 9, 2007 1:10 PM

LOVED this post--so encouraging to hear more from people who ARE happily combining work and parenthood!

Posted by: Eliz | January 9, 2007 1:11 PM

old name: CBC; new name: spawn

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 1:11 PM

Does anyone think that for some men having a stay at home wife is a status symbol?

Yes, definitely.

Huge pet peeve: the cliche that a bump in someone's salary "allowed" his wife to stay home. You see this all. the. time. Status symbol, much? How about the new job "forced" the wife to stay home since the guy is now working at all hours?

Posted by: Hoosier | January 9, 2007 1:12 PM

Why is the namecalling and vitriol necessary? No matter where you fall on the spectrum of these debates, it shouldn't require anger towards everyone else. If you can't handle a blog posting, how can you handle a boss, spouse, kids, or all of the above?

Posted by: hurricanewarningdc | January 9, 2007 1:15 PM

Great topic today. I love the: well, it's okay to work if you *have* to work. As if someone else should be allowed to judge if you should or should not work (is there someone I have to submit paperwork to? With my W-2s?). I have a friend who said that absolutely nothing would make her work after having kids - that she didn't understand others working, that she wasn't curing cancer, so what could be so important. So she is working at least 20 hours a week, and does so from home. So she justifies it - oh, it's okay, because she's home, etc. But she works other times as well (the 20 hours is just for her 'career', then she has several other part time jobs). And each and every time she's justifying that it's okay for *her* but she doesn't understand others who work. She went back to work before her first was 3 mos. Old, and I went back when my second was almost 6 mos. Old. And she still makes snarky comments to me (don't see her much anymore).

And by the way, I was out of work for almost four years, and while I don't make as much as I used to, it's very close, and quite a good living. I turned down interviews that weren't close enough to home because I didn't want the commute, and found a job only a few miles from home. It's doable. Of course, I have a master's degree and a desirable background, but nevertheless, we all make our way in life. Some of it is luck, but much of it is ourselves and our own work ethic (yes, I also volunteer in our local community).

My husband and I have made these decisions to be more flexible, so that if/when he wants to quit his job, he can and will. I tell him to every day, actually, he's so miserable. And yes, we could make it on my income.

And, I know plenty of stay at home dads. It was done for different reasons, but they all enjoy it immensely.

Posted by: atlmom | January 9, 2007 1:16 PM

I stayed home with my son for the first 6 months and went absolutely stir-crazy. I loved being home with him, but 24/7 care and lessened mental stimulation was driving me nuts. So, I went to back to work. After a year of working, I find myself full circle. I am considering quitting work to go back home. I don't want to miss out on being a mom to my little guy. When I'm at work, I'm usually thinking about him and asking myself --"This is what I came back for?" I also tell myself there will be a time -- soon -- when my son will not want to snuggle with mom, so I want to take advantage while I can. When he's older, I'll ease back into the workforce. But for now, I think I'll be happier just being mom.

Posted by: MaxMom | January 9, 2007 1:23 PM

Love the article, I can totally relate as a 34 year old mom of 2, (one who is a infant) who is also a litigator (thank God for Judges who will allow pumping breaks during trial!). I think that bottom line is that we women need to respect eachother (an not villify one another) for personal choices made, be it stay at home, full time workers, part time and like . . .
Women unite!!!

Posted by: Lawyermama#2! | January 9, 2007 1:23 PM

TX Dad of 2:

To try to answer your question, I don't think it's really accurate to say that we've got the first generation being raised by 2 FT WOH parents. I think historically, that was more the norm than the exception. Poor families have always had both parents working just to pay the bills. I remember reading a book about Wilma Rudolph in school, and one of the things she said that really stuck with me was that the feminist movement was for rich white folks, because poor black women had always worked anyway. And if you think back to the industrial revolution, before child labor laws, poor children were sent to the factories as soon as they were old enough to work, while the younger ones helped out with chores at home.

And I don't think things were much more family-oriented on the wealthy side. Rich people always had nannies and governesses and boarding schools. I'm not a historian, but I just don't get the sense that the same concept of a SAHM taking care of the kids really existed until recently. Even in the 50s, being a SAHM wasn't nearly child-centric as we think of it today -- even June Cleaver spent most of her time cooking and cleaning, not out playing with Wally and the Beav. So even when parents were around (say, for ex., working in the family store), it wasn't in the same way that we idealize now.

I think what has really changed is that we have much more proliferation of company-run daycare outside the home. I think in the past, if you had money, you hired a nanny; if you didn't, you relied on grandma or the older kids. Heck, back in the 70s, I was a "latchkey" kid from the age of 7, because there just weren't all these after-school programs back then, and we didn't have family nearby.

Is that good or bad? Depends on what you're comparing it to. And that's sort of the point: I think we all have this image in our minds of the "past" being the idealized 50s version of a SAHM, and the "present" being some institutional child warehouse. But I don't think either of those images actually reflects what life was and is like for the majority of people, for the majority of our history (at least since the Industrial Revolution -- obviously a lot more togetherness on the family farm).

Personally, I think my daughter is far better off than if we were able to live the 50s ideal. Not just because (as I wrote above) working helps me be a better mother, but also because my daughter CRAVES the independence and competence and structure she gets from her Montessori school. But I know there are other kids who would be overwhelmed by that environment and are much better off at home, or in a smaller, quieter setting (my son may be one).

Posted by: Laura | January 9, 2007 1:31 PM

I live in Burke. Like the person living in Rockville, I think that $150,000 is an exorbitant amount of money. I make slightly more than a third of that. Of course, there is only one of me, and two of whoever made the original statement. But if there were two adults in my household, we wouldn't need to be making anywhere near $150,000 for one of us to have the option of staying home, or both of us to work part time, or some other arrangement that allowed us more freedom and flexibility to pursue a more relaxed family life.

Posted by: single mother by choice | January 9, 2007 1:33 PM

"OK, what is the minimum age to be considered an older mom?"

Depends on what you mean by "older mom." You could mean "a woman who's relatively old to have children her age" - and yes, over 30 is probably a bit older than average for a new mom.

You could mean "a mother who's older and experienced raising kids" - that probably requires having kids in their late teens, so you have some idea how they've turned out. Most aren't there until their late 30's or early 40's.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 1:37 PM

"Second, the elephant in the SAHM room is divorce. I honestly don't mean to sound like a fuddy-duddy or Pat Robertson, and yes, I know divorce is sometimes the only or best option, but it seems that long-term SAHMs often find themselves in peril when their husbands up and divorce them. Ann Crittenden, author of "The Price of Motherhood" (and herself a tireless advocate for moms and families) proposed what she called share-the-pain divorce laws, where the higher earner forked over much more of his or her income to the primary caregiver so the kids would not suffer. She also thought this would discourage divorce because it would make it so much more costly to just walk away."

What's so ironic here is that it was women who pushed so hard for "no fault" divorce.

Yes, divorce is problem we need to talk more openly about, and confront. It is a problem: for adults, for kids, for society as a whole. Part of the problem is one of expectations - we've become much too quick to say "hey, you aren't happy - then leave!" Nothing of real value is built with out commitment.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 1:41 PM

Regarding SAHparents--unless there is an IRA for you, and you alone! set up and fully-funded, you are too trusting, and too likely to wind up in difficult circumstances as you near retirement age.

It's appalling how many spouses are shown the gate once they reflect their dear one's age (grey hair, some wrinkles).

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 1:42 PM

"You are not making any sense."

No? Can you imagine any joking name - incorporating the term "crotch" - that could be used on this blog to describe women without causing offense?

Can you imagine any equally crude joking name that could be used on this blog to describe African-Americans without causing offense?

Posted by: Demos | January 9, 2007 1:47 PM

"It's appalling how many spouses are shown the gate once they reflect their dear one's age (grey hair, some wrinkles)."

Yep - and in my experience, men and women are equal opportunity offenders.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 1:48 PM

I love today's blog. Everything the writer says, applies to me. I love working. We could very well live on my spouse's income, but I want to work, for as long as I am physically able to. I keep very practical hours and my son and I get a lot of time with each other. He is happy and so am I.

Posted by: TwinCitiesLurker | January 9, 2007 1:50 PM

Living in downtown DC and receiving child support I make a little more than the $150K mentioned and things are very tight -I live in a modest one bedroom apartment, send my child to preschool, do not have a car and commuting costs... I fear that I will never save enough money to buy a house/condo, and dread the day she starts kindergarden. Our local school is not good and if we do not win a lottery it is private schools - which is 1/3rd of my total income!

I am above the national average, but still feel very poor!

Posted by: single mom | January 9, 2007 1:54 PM

"It's appalling how many spouses are shown the gate once they reflect their dear one's age (grey hair, some wrinkles)."

Yep - and in my experience, men and women are equal opportunity offenders.

Which is why I purposely left gender out of it. Although raw data still supports the notion that women are the ones who are disproportionately represented. But that is changing.

So, again, if you are a stay-at-home parent, make certain to have your spouse put money where their mouth is and fund that SEP or IRA.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 1:56 PM

I meant a little more than 1/3rd of the $150K... oops, would love the salary bump though

Posted by: single mom | January 9, 2007 1:58 PM

Why is the namecalling and vitriol necessary? No matter where you fall on the spectrum of these debates, it shouldn't require anger towards everyone else. If you can't handle a blog posting, how can you handle a boss, spouse, kids, or all of the above?

Who are you talking to?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 1:59 PM

While I was trying to craft the perfect response to Texas Dad of 2, Laura did it far more efficiently. What she said.

Here are two additional thoughts.

First, remember the Harry Chapin song, Cat's in the Cradle? We all knew many, many dads like the one in the song. Many middle and upper-middle class kids didn't know their dads in those good ol' days because dad was either at work, or playing golf or having several martinis with his buddies after work. He engaged with his family for two weeks a year on the Official Middle-Class Family Vacation. Kids knew their moms, maybe, if she took a break from cooking and cleaning, but dad was a distant figure. I am quite glad to see this model of emotionally absent fathers fall by the wayside.

Second, to the extent both parents working results in a plethora of expendable income that is spent on much bling for the kids, it raises the baseline of what "everybody" has (do all families now owe their kids trips to Disney World?) and ratchets up the pressure on families, generally, to provide more and more and more. Yes, grown-ups resist such pressure, but, for example, where I live, if your kid doesn't participate in independent soccer leagues and day camps from 1st - 5th grade, the competition in middle school is such that he or she will be unable to make a public school middle school team. Is that the end of the world? of course not, but opting out of participation in extra-curricular enrichment is not without costs. Reasonable people could argue all day over the pros and cons of the increased expenditures on enrichment activities for kids, but it is a change particularly in urban areas that at least bears some discussion. It is not, however, an excuse for zingers like the following, apparently directed at a wide-swathe of 2-WOH parent families: that "I'm not willing to sacrifice my kids for the sake of having nicer vacations and newer cars." Well, hmmm, let's agree we're all in opposition to child sacrifice whether for nicer vacations or trips with the Griswolds.

So, Texas Dad of 2, we as a society are raising just as good, well adjusted children as we have always raised, but maybe the answer is we shouldn't kid ourselves about the extent to which we raised good, well-adjusted kids in those Good Ol' Days either. (As I've shared before, I for one was essentially raised by my sister although SAH mom was in the same house waxing those floors and cooking those Hamburger Helper meals.) Each generation tries to do better than the last. It fixes some things (most of us are unwilling to move our families every 2 years for the sake of an extra 5K and most employers have accepted that declining such a move doesn't mean you're not a team player). It inadvertently creates new problems that previous generations never faced.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 9, 2007 2:02 PM

Well I am a single mom living in the DC metro on 32k/year, taking online college courses, and all with a 4 year old...not all of us make 6 figures. We still can't afford anything bigger than this 1 bedroom in manassas....

Posted by: single mama | January 9, 2007 2:02 PM

Someone above says "Given the skill level of many of the women who provide day care or work as nannies, they may be making a LOT of money, comparatively. Watching 2 babies in your home for $200 a week is $20,000 a year with fairly low expenses and you can be home with YOUR kids. I can't think of any other job a low-skilled person can do out of their own home (which enables them to avoid child-care costs) and get paid that much, actually.

Posted by: to whatever | January 9, 2007 12:46 PM"


How funny! Someone just admitted that watching children is a LOW SKILLED JOB!!Now all those SAHMs who think they are doing such and important job by staying homes just got told exactly how much 'skill' their childcare tasks really require and how little value is placed upon what they do - after all the Market says so.

You all are missing the point. Apparently, children are being left with someone disdainfully dismissed as "low skilled" and "$20,000" is called a "LOT of money."

So, exactly how are they supposed to PAY for this home on $20,000 a year - unless they are in public housing?? Doubt they have premises liability or business liability insurance at that pay rate! (And homeowner's insurance won't cover claims arising from the operation of a business.) Since they are "low skilled", guess they don't have any training in early childhood education or emergency medical first aid either.

Hmm...that is what the 'market' will pay? So how does THAT deal with the moral question of paying someone so little that they can not live and yet piously intoning that your children are the most precious thing in your world all the while turniing them over to someone who is 'low skilled' and who does not make enough to cover the basic necssities? What, the childare provider doesn't provide a valuable enough service to get paid more while you (and your spouse) are freed to go out in the workforce and earn far more?

Oh, right - they are supposed to rely upon their spouse's income and health insurance. Does that include the live-in nannies and au pairs? Someone who is SINGLE and works in daycare???

Someone up above made the fallacious claim that by tagging on daycare costs for the provider's child(ren), that gets the provider up to Economic Self-Sufficency when only making $25,000.

Definitely math-challenged on that one!

(1) No one making only $59,000 gross is going to drop $15,000 on childcaare. Assume they are a single parent with 2 children - their after tax income on 59K is around $50,000. Where are they going to live, how are they going to eat and buy health insurance for themselves on what is left after spending $15000 on childcare - they only have $35000 or less than $2000 a month?

(2) What they have in hand is $25,000 and a "low skill babysitting" (see above) fringe benfit for their own kids. That is a long long ways from Economic Self-sufficency.

(3) Playing silly buggers with fantasy numbers to somehow claim their "real" income is $59,000 does not put that money in their pocket for housing, food, healthcare, transportation and clothing.


I am not an advocate of women stayng home with children if they prefer working or need to work for economic survival (Note: 'survival' does not include a 3000 sq ft house, a new SUV or $500 electronic equipment to play video games, a famly vacation or eating out 42% of the time. "Survival" is clean, safe housing; adequate food on a Basic Budget of $150/person; utilites but not upscale cable; a vehicle that runs even if older; healthcare and being able to put something in savings.)

I do believe that failing to address the moral question of paying someone so little that they can not meet survival costs is a serious issue. It is particualrly offensive if the 'cost savings' of paying such low wages goes into aying for that SUV or the vacation trip or the shopping trip to the mall for more wnated-but-not necessary stuff.

Posted by: whatever | January 9, 2007 2:05 PM

Texas Dad - great question. And good answers from everyone who responded; I find it an interesting topic. The problem for me in deciding how I feel about it is that, as we've seen on this blog, it's too easy to fall back on the standard response of "everyone I know turned out okay". I don't know what to say to that. It seems to me that people in general and on average usually turn out "okay" no matter the circumstances - someone mentioned that whole generations somehow survived forced child labor ...
so how do we objectively measure the results on society? I definitely have my own opinion on your question, but I don't have any "real" data to back it up, just my intuition - which would likely be roundly rejected on this board!

Posted by: TakomaMom | January 9, 2007 2:06 PM

I haven't had time to read all of the comments but I really appreciate the article today. I agree with some previous posters that we are own own worst enemy. Why can't we just respect that someone else made a different decision then we did?

I like working but there are also times when there are not enough hours in the day and when I just want to be with my baby. That conflict will always be there. However, my child is getting great care and truthfully is learning more from her daycare than she would at home.

I grew up in a household with a FT working mom. Sometimes it was sad that she didn't get to come to every game or to see every performance but she made it when she could and her working allowed me to participate in activities that would not have been open to me otherwise. She was and is a role model to me that I can raise a healthy well adjusted child and work.

Raising childen isn't all or nothing. I know good and bad people that had SAHMs and FT working moms. It is about the values and leasons that you teach your kids.

Posted by: iatodc | January 9, 2007 2:07 PM

All I can say is thank you. Thank you for being so articulate in communicating the viewpoint shared by me and many of my friends who are also working moms. What's best for me, is also what's best for my family.

Posted by: anonymous in cali | January 9, 2007 2:07 PM

I do not have children, but if I were to have them, I would not choose to stay at home. Regardless of the fact that we could not afford it, work is part of who I am. I was raised in a family in which both parents worked, and both sets of my grandparents worked. I was raised to view work as an essential part of life. In a way, I feel lucky to be working. I am healthy, capable, and educated, and I am able to contribute to society. Maybe that comes from being raised by immigrants. There is a certain amount of pride that comes from working, so I will work for as long as I am able.

In response to the post in which some one assumed that CBC must secretly desire kids but can't have them and is therefore desperately bitter: Not all women desparately want children. Please keep that in mind before spouting the acid. CBC is not all puppies and sunflowers, that's for sure. But it should be said that not all childless people are bitter and angry, just as not all mothers are happy and fulfilled.

Posted by: Meesh | January 9, 2007 2:07 PM

Hey Demos, all parents who change diapers are buttwipers.

Offended yet?

Posted by: Father of 4 | January 9, 2007 2:11 PM

What a coincidence. My cube neighbor mom - who has a 16 month old - is upset because a call to the babysitter revealed her child grabbing her babydoll and lying on the floor crying "home home home".. and my cube neighbor co-worker can't go take her home.. .she HAS to work to pay the bare bills... this is a society issue. It is ok if women can choose/not choose to work. It stinks when they HAVE to work when they'd rather stay home. And she has worked out a plan where she COULD stay home; but her husband won't agree to lifestyle change, etc. Sad.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 2:12 PM

Whatever: you missed the first point of the argument. I said in my DD day care, all the workers are married to spouses who work and have insurance. Not every one is a single income family. Certainly being a day care worker is not a job that can support a family on one income. Neither is a waitress, a cashier, or a some of the other low skilled jobs. And yes people with a hhld income of 59K are probably not paying for 15K for a high priced day care. But these workers all choose to work their for the generous child care subsidies. In fact my DDs teacher left the fairfax public school system, as a teacher mind you, to be a day care worker. Because with her two small children in day care and one in school, the child care subsidy plus her 25K was equivalent to her being a school teacher and paying for day care for the two little ones and after school care for her oldest child. No one is saying that they make a living wage. But some jobs are not set out to be living wages. If every job was meant to be a living wage, you would have to pay a heck of a lot more money to do their jobs. Who would work if they had to pay 35K/child for day care. It is not fuzzy math, it is reality.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 9, 2007 2:13 PM

To Texas Dad of 2:
The problem with that question is that there are so many other factors at play that it is impossible to truly answer it. As an earlier poster pointed out, the increased divorce rate is certainly another factor. But consider: in the last generation, kids have been exposed to more graphic content on tv, eaten more junk food and had to endure more standardized tests at school than ever before, to name only three of about a million other factors that may, or may not, have an impact on the way they turn out. Additionally, kids today live in a world so scary that many parents won't let their kids play in the front yard without supervision. With all of these other things changing the equation, who knows if having a parent stay at home makes a difference at all?

Posted by: Charlottesville | January 9, 2007 2:14 PM

Why do parents so often justify their (frequently selfish) actions by saying "what's good for me is good for my family"? This is such a crock. I have friends who use that thinking to square everything from their weekly manicures to their divorces so they can be with someone who's caught their eye now that the old grey mare (or gelding) ain't what she/he used to be. Selfish, selfish, selfish.

I am not advocating that people should deliberately make decisions that will make them unhappy and sacrifice themselves on the altar of parenthood. I'm saying get over yourself and start thinking of others (especially your spouse/partner and children). It's not all about you anyway, and it is DEFINITELY not all about you if you choose to have and raise children.

Posted by: Unreal | January 9, 2007 2:14 PM

texas dad of 2,

Ha, you know I only go after engineers!

Posted by: scarry | January 9, 2007 2:15 PM

"What's best for me, is also what's best for my family."

I know people spout stuff like this in all sincerity, but it is about as deep as, "If you love someone set them free". Bleeeecccch! It might be true. It might also be an excuse for acting selfishly. Only the speaker knows for sure whether it's true for his or her particular family.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 9, 2007 2:15 PM

Meesh, good to hear from you!

Texas Dad, to contribute to your question, I just want (but not really) to point out that the United States has the highest incarceration rates of all industrialized nations. Also, at this time, I believe they are higher than they have ever been. Based on this fact alone, it would seem that parents are doing a worse job than ever before.

Posted by: Father of 4 | January 9, 2007 2:16 PM

To "Bored with the subject." I recently read somewhere to divorce rate for college educated people who wait until they are at least 25 to get married (which I believe are most people on this discussion) is just under 20%...so I don't know why you would make the assumption "When (not 'if') a lot of you SAHMs are felled by the 'divorced in your late 40s-early 50s when the kids leave for college and he wants out' thing,"
Also, I don't think $150k/year for the DC area is exactly wealthy. There is nothing wrong with making a decent income. I intent to stay at home for a while, work part time for a while, and return to work full-time eventually. Balancing my work/home life differently has the needs of my children and my patience ebbs and flows. I don't see a problem with this. People regularly enter, leave, and reenter the work force. It is also pretty common for someone to change careers multiple times. It doesn't seem like it is a huge issue. I am in my late 20's and have went from aviation to more of a technology/business role pretty quickly without facing too many challenges and my income staying above your median household income. If I am capable of this in my 20's, I see not reason why I wouldn't be in my 40's

Posted by: mom2b | January 9, 2007 2:17 PM

To Demos:

That's a silly argument. African Americans and women are both reading and responding to the comments posted on this blog. We should avoid derogatory terms directed at them because they can read them and become offended.

But derogatory references to babies are not actually read my the babies--babies are not offended by what we say here. Are you advocating for avoiding jokes because someone on the blog will become offeded ON BEHALF of the babies? Or are you yourself offeded because you are "spawn?"

So basically, we can't make fun of money-hungry bosses or clueless celebs because someone here might be offended in their honor.

In all fairness, people of all kinds are made fun of on the blog on a daily basis (like feminists, which really gets my goat), but you have to let it go. the person who wants to offend by using that language will eat up your reply but she/he can see your hackles raised. Don't give him/her the satisfaction.

Posted by: Meesh | January 9, 2007 2:17 PM

What a coincidence. My cube neighbor mom - who has a 16 month old - is upset because a call to the babysitter revealed her child grabbing her babydoll and lying on the floor crying "home home home"..

Maybe she needs to find a new babysitter or daycare. That does not sound normal to me. Anyone else care to weigh in?

Posted by: scarry | January 9, 2007 2:18 PM

"It is ok if women can choose/not choose to work. It stinks when they HAVE to work when they'd rather stay home. And she has worked out a plan where she COULD stay home; but her husband won't agree to lifestyle change, etc. Sad."

Why does it stink when people have to work when they'd rather stay home? My husband would rather stay home and play with the dogs and hit the gym. Why does it stink that he can't do that? Life is unfair. Oh, well.

And I'm sorry, but I don't blame this woman's husband for not wanting to be the sole breadwinner. It's a lot of pressure.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 9, 2007 2:19 PM

Situation - 3 kids 9, 7 and 2.5. Mom hot shot I Banker in NYC. Dad hot shot lawyer in NYC. Multimillion house in Greenwich. $75 K in private school expenses. 2 nannies and a cook (1 legal, 2 illegal). Mom and Dad never home before 9 pm. Mom and Dad see kids on weekends, but not all weekend due to pursuits (work, yoga, kayaking). Nanny comes on family vacations so Mom and Dad can sunbathe, eat out, golf, play tennis.
Why did they have these children? Is there someone out there who can explain to me how this is just their choice and they are just as good parents as those who make sacrifices and spend time with their kids?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 2:20 PM

Re: no-fault divorces

Personally, if my husband would rather kill himself or me rather than stay married, I would rather be divorced. I am an adult, and fully capable of taking care of myself. It's a marriage, not slavery.

Of course, in my state adultery is still grounds, and who knows what the future holds?

Trust but verify is a good working motto.

So is, "Luck favours the prepared", Edna Mode (The Incredibles).

Posted by: MdMother | January 9, 2007 2:22 PM

"I am in my late 20's and have went from aviation to more of a technology/business role pretty quickly without facing too many challenges and my income staying above your median household income. If I am capable of this in my 20's, I see not reason why I wouldn't be in my 40's."

You shouldn't be so confident if your grammar doesn't improve - have went???

Posted by: teehee | January 9, 2007 2:23 PM

"The whole "letting strangers raise your kids argument" loses a bit of substance when you think that the vast majority of kids will spend most of their time in a classroom being influenced by their teachers"

Patently untrue. Typically, school is only 35 hours a week at most. Include travel and lunch, call it 40, which is generous. At 168 hours/week, less 70 hours sleeping (10 hrs/day), that leaves 98 hours. If 40 goes to school, that leaves 58 hours, which is still greater than 40.

If your kid sleeps less than 10 hrs/day and is away from home less than 40 hours (door-to-door for school), which is typical, then you have your children for more waking hours than the school system does.

You can't shirk your responsibility on the schools.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 2:23 PM

"Is there someone out there who can explain to me how this is just their choice and they are just as good parents as those who make sacrifices and spend time with their kids?"

I can certainly make the case that these parents are better than the parents of many kids my husband teaches. You know, the ones who have just as little inclination to spend time with their kids, but who don't have the resources to make sure that at least someone is minding them and who don't have the expectation that the kids will do well in school or go to college. These are the kids who wind up dead or in jail by age 18. I think we can agree that by any objective standard, the rich kids are better off.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 9, 2007 2:24 PM

"Why did they have these children? Is there someone out there who can explain to me how this is just their choice and they are just as good parents as those who make sacrifices and spend time with their kids?"

Sounds to me like they wanted the trophy kids who are merely there to round out and complete the image.

You'd be surprised how many people become parents--not because they chose to, but because they feel it's "just what they're supposed to do."

Something about jumping on a bandwagon?

Posted by: meh | January 9, 2007 2:26 PM

"Does anyone think that for some men having a stay at home wife is a status symbol?"

Most of the married men I work with either
have stay-at-home wives now, or had them
when their children were little. I have
never heard any man boast, "I have a stay-
at-home wife." Maybe that sort of boast
is confined to the very rich men who have
"trophy wives" -- a concept that goes
against the whole idea of the marriage
vows.

Having a stay-at-home wife is not a status
symbol. Having a stay-at-home wife is a
form of male privilege. In fact, having
a stay-at-home wife is male privilege
par excellence.

It is not some awful, sexist society that
affords some men the privilege of having
a stay-at-home wife. Rather, it is
the wife herself who affords him that
privilege. She trusts her well-being and
the well-being of her future children to
faith that her husband will love, cherish
and support her for life. In return for
affording her husband the male privilege
of having a stay-at-home wife, she enjoys
the female privilege of *being* a stay-at-home wife.

Not every man gets to have a stay-at-home
wife -- especially when so many American
men today have to compete against
maquiladora labor in Mexico, prison slave
labor in Red China, and child labor in
India. So, if you want to have the male
privilege of having a stay-at-home wife,
make sure you study real hard so that you
can eventually graduate from Harvard
College and Wharton School of Business.

But even graduating from Harvard and
Wharton is not enough to get you a
stay-at-home wife who will bear and raise
your and her biological children. First
of all, you have to be born a boy.

If you are born a girl, you can choose
between being a stay-at-home wife
("female privilege") and getting slammed
on this blog as a "vapid" "breeder" of
"rug rats," or pursuing a career
("Hirshman's way") and getting slammed
on this blog for entrusting your precious
children to a day care center where they
are sure to come down with such
"day care diseases" as giardiasis and
shigellosis.

Finally, having a stay-at-home wife is
an awesome responsibility. The business
that an earlier poster asked, about:

*****What's best for you is best for your family.*****

. . . being "true for husbands/fathers,
or is it only for wives/mothers? If
husbands/fathers spend their time doing
whatever makes them happy, are their wives
and children automatically happy too?"

-- forget about it, guys! You are not
here on earth to have fun. You are here
to find out what your duty is, and then
to do it. Your wife, your little ones --
they are relying on *you* to dedicate
your Strength, Health, Aptitude, Zeal,
Ox (power of), Ox (power of another), and
Money (acronym: SHAZOOM!) to their
welfare.



Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | January 9, 2007 2:29 PM

I've always been a lurker, but I have to respond and say that Cop Mom is so condescending it's frightening.

The sisterhood really needs to lighten up.

Posted by: karen99 | January 9, 2007 2:39 PM

In defense of Demos I think the issue is not what was said, but who said it and why. Calling children spawn is unclassy, but if father of four, you, me or any other number of people said it, it would probably be over looked as some kind of a joke. However, when people say it as an insult, it might be hard for people to overlook it. The same people are the first ones to cry when anyone says anything about them or their personal life too.

Also, some people aren't offended on behalf of "the babies" some people may be offended on behalf of their babies. I find the terms vulgar myself although I am not going to stop reading the blog because of it or not like a poster because they said it. However, just because babies don't read the board doesn't mean that it's a nice thing to joke about. I bet there are few mentally challenged people who read the board, but if we started making jokes about them, some people would be pissed. That was Demos point.

Anyway, glad to see you back. Where have you been, anywhere exciting that only us parents can dream about?

Posted by: from scarry to Meesh | January 9, 2007 2:39 PM

What a great guest blog post! It's wonderful to "hear" from a mom that is balancing it all to fit her needs. Thank you!

Posted by: Virginia Mom of 2 | January 9, 2007 2:43 PM

Matt: We need male input on this topic like we need a hole in the head. Get off it buddy!!! This conversation soooo doesn't include you just because you have a stay-at-home-wife (a label which is degrading and mysogynistic when uttered by a some poor woman's husband)

Posted by: womenonly | January 9, 2007 2:44 PM

foamgnome - that arrangement at your daycare is NOT the norm. Those who left employment that had health insurance (the teacher) sufferred an ecnomic loses of (1) retirement funds and Social Security and (2) the ability to use the 2nd health insurance to lower the deductible and copays of the first policy.

Very few childcare providers have a home situation where the household income is sufficent to allow them to ditch the job producing the higher income and bascially live on the spouse's earniings. Most are working because they HAVE to work at something. Ergo, the children are being left with someone who is 'low-skilled' (see poster above), is financially stressed, has to harbor at least a sub-consious resentment of the parents who whirl in to pickup Johnny in their $30,000 SUV on their way to a weekend in the Shennandoahs when they personally can't meet the deductible on their health insurance or even pay for health insurance, and are worried about making the rent/mortgage.

In 1999, ESS in Fairfax County was calculated at around $19000 for ONE person. With the staggering increased cost of housing and health insurance, a bare minimum of $25,000 is probably closer.

In 1999, ESS in Arlington County for one adult & one pre-schooler was $34,884 with only $691 for childcare, $143 for healthcare and $903 for housing (including utilities.) 2007 estimate - probably about $48,660

(ESS does NOT include the costs of acquiring a car and in areas like the DC SMSA assumes the use of public transportation.)

Now to have quality care AND NOT pay the staff so little they can not live, means merely spreading the cost out. 1 worker attends 5 children = a wage cost of $9732 per child or $811 a month to the person with one child to bare ESS. Then add on facility and operating expenses. Yes, it would probably be about $1600 a month per child.

At those prices, families whose income was at 110-120% of an area's median household income would probably need a cash childcare subsidy but only if the person was a single parnet or it took both parents working to make that level. They definitely would have to think long and hard about how many children to have.

RE: "But some jobs are not set out to be living wages. If every job was meant to be a living wage, you would have to pay a heck of a lot more money to do their jobs"

Yep, thats right. You would have to pay more for the goods and services if the person who supplied them was to earn enough for subsistence survival. NOT even Malthus (18th century originator of the whole 'free market' concept) EVER advocated that fulltime work should pay less than required for subsistence survival. His view was based upon that pragmatic approach that allowing the workforce to starve or die from lack of shelter or medical care would kill them off, deprive the economy of workers and keep them from breeding more healthy workers (His words, not mine.)

You can pay the providers of your goods and services enough to live or you can pay for their needed food assistance, housing assistance and healthcare through taxes.

Mayor LaGuardia in the 1930s commented that any job or business that did not pay enough for the person to live was not a job or business that society needed.

Would it be so bad if the cost of childcare was significant enough that many opted out of the workforce who were working for self-satisfation or to buy the house in Fredricksburg on 1.5 acres with 4 bedrooms? The bulk of the housing inflation has been driven by the two-income family as has the excessive demand for non-essential toys and goods. Fewer people able to bid up the price on a house, the price comes down.

Posted by: whatever | January 9, 2007 2:47 PM

To teehee "You shouldn't be so confident if your grammar doesn't improve - have went???" I am working while reading this on the side...no time to grammar check...an example of why I plan on staying at home...when multi-tasking something always suffers and it is not going to be my children. I am confident because my experience shows me I can easily change careers so I do not anticipate having a large challenge reentering the workforce, although I don't necessarily think it will be easy.

Posted by: mom2b | January 9, 2007 2:48 PM

NC Lawyer and Unreal, in terms of selfishmness, there is a big difference between railraoding your family's future based on your own desires and choosing one of the three or four options that works best for everyone. No situation is apparent from the outside. A dad moved his family across the U.S. for less pay and a smaller house? He could have moved to be closer to his mistress, or he could have moved to be closer to the hospital where a specialist can care for his child. You never know what people have considered to make their decisions. We can probably assume that all parents have their childrens' best interest in mind.

Charlottesville, I agree with you about the additional factors. I have to say, though, that the world is not really more dangerous, it's that fear is what sells in our culture today (Channel 5 news: "There's something in your house RIGHT NOW that can kill you!"). There is also a lot more blameshifting these days (parents suing schools because their kid didn't make the cheerleading squad). There is also more affluence (kids can have whatever they want). I think that all of those factors have contributed to children being sort of out of control.

Scarry, I used to cry before going to school everyday--and that was in middle school! I wasn't being beaten at school; I was just being a brat.

Posted by: Meesh | January 9, 2007 2:49 PM

On the theme of "It makes me happy; therefore It's good for everybody", my supervisor should be delighted that I'm going to blow off work and hit the iron at the gym.

Working out actually makes me more stupid, or shall I say stupider, as compared to happy, but for some of us mentally challanged gimps, stupid and happy are synonamous.

As for the mop bucket / scrub brush request, give me a few days on that one so I can slip it in on topic.

Posted by: Father of 4 | January 9, 2007 2:50 PM

To F04 - about incarceration rates, it only makes sense if we compare our legal system to other industrialized nations. Do other IUs have similar nonviolent drug laws to us? Methinks not. What percentage of our incarcerated population would not be incarcerated if they were in another country? Note the difference between imprisonment for crack v. cocaine possession.
I happen to agree with you that parents, on the whole, do a worse job today than we used to. Did anyone see the NYT article yesterday on obesity - schools sent home letters to parents about their kids' body mass indexes and the parents were INDIGNANT instead of thankful for knowing their kids are unhealthy? Having a prediabetic child is just as unheathly as having one that smokes, and yet most parents don't look at it that way.

Posted by: SMF | January 9, 2007 2:53 PM

Scarry, I used to cry before going to school everyday--and that was in middle school! I wasn't being beaten at school; I was just being a brat

Yes, but, you were old enough that you could at least tell your parents if things weren't okay. A 16 month old baby can't. I would check it out if that was my kid.

I hated school too by the way.

Posted by: scarry | January 9, 2007 2:55 PM

"just TRY to get these suburban moms to even discuss anything remotely provocative, controversial, political, religious, etc. 'Sadam" who? "

I agree with the poster who said that drop off time at school isn't a good time to be having a deep discussion with someone (although I have had many discussions with other parents at our schools beyond baby poop - it might just be the people you associate with or the people who live in your area or the school you send your children to.) And besides, IRL discussions with friends and acquaintances are not the only way to not let your brain go into passive-mode - have you not heard of books, newspapers, the Internet, discussion groups, classes, lectures, Discovery Channel/History Channel / CNN/CSPAN, discussions with your spouse?

""I don't understand how people can possibly think that giving up a paid job means the end of any brain activity beyond the level of a 4 year old..."
Because this is what we hear from SAHMs. All the defensiveness about political and philosophical discussions that I've read on this board today represents a small minority of the experiences SAHPs tell me about. "

My comment about brain activity beyond the level of a year old ending was *aimed* at the SAHMs or people who tried it out for a short time who insist that their days have to be filled with nothing but poop, spit-up, and the Wiggles. That is absolutely untrue, especially in this day and age.

I'm amazed by SAHMs who say "I don't have time to read since I had children." (you could substitute another mentally stimulating example for "read." What they're really saying is "'reading' isn't a priority for me." The majority of women I know who are home with their children put their children to bed 2-3 hours before they themselves turn in when they could be "reading." And they have anywhere from 2-4 hours a day, depending on the age of their children, of naptime to "read." If the mom is spending that time cleaning, watching Oprah, having sex with her husband, talking on the phone to a friend, blogging, whatever - that's fine - but don't say "I don't have time to "read." What you're saying is that it's not a priority for you.

Moxiemom - I'm not sure I agree that a person has more time for intellectual pursuits after their children are a few years old, mostly because of the sleeping less issue as they get older. But maybe you're talking more about the fact that most preschool aged children are actually in preschool - mine aren't. Aside from the fact that I'm not nursing him every 2-3 hours round the clock anymore (during which time I could read the newspaper or a book), it doesn't take me any less time to care for my four year old than it did when he was a 6 month old.

Posted by: momof4 | January 9, 2007 2:55 PM

Whatever: I think you lost me on some of what you wrote. But I agree that my day care is highly unusual. There are currently 16 kids with five full time workers. The owner, who is also married to someone who has benefits and is a professional, and four other workers. Two workers are younger mothers with two or more small children. Each of those mothers have two children in day care full time (subisidized ) and the ex-teacher also has a school age child. The other two women are also married and this is a second career for them. One lady used to be a SAHM and now her daughter is married. The other was a lifelong nanny and now is "retired" and does this. She is married to a retired military officer. It is a small christian based day care. The staff gets generous flexibility to take kids or spouses to drs appointments, lessons, home emergencies etc... They get 3 weeks paid vacation as well as more holidays with pay then the federal government. From what they told me that the cost trade off was minimal to have the little extra income needed to make their homes comfortable while raising kids or their retirement. They are all middle class. I would say one is closer to the lower middle and the two retired ones live in nicer homes than most of the children that attend this day care. My point is this job is not marketed to be a single income supporting job. The owner makes that very clear. But you will get generous child care subisidies, flexibility, a loving and caring enviroment for you and your child. I don't consider that a bad trade off. Besides the teacher mother plans to leave when her youngest is in school. It is similar to parents that leave the work force while the kids are young.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 9, 2007 2:56 PM

Scarry and Fo4, thanks for the welcome!

Scarry, my contract at my last job ended, so I've just been looking for work and volunteering. I didn't have much time for blogging. But now that I'm fully employed again, I can blog all I want!! MWUAHAAHHH!!! Good to be back.

Posted by: Meesh | January 9, 2007 3:02 PM

mom2b wrote " I recently read somewhere to divorce rate for college educated people who wait until they are at least 25 to get married (which I believe are most people on this discussion) is just under 20%...so I don't know why you would make the assumption "When (not 'if') a lot of you SAHMs are felled by the 'divorced in your late 40s-early 50s when the kids leave for college and he wants out' thing,"


I have to agree with the person who posted the original comment.

DO YOU EVER READ THE ACTUAL DIVORCE STATISTICS???? It is far far far higher than 20% for people in their 40s and 50s with degrees. It is closer to 50% - lower than the nationl average of 2 out of 3.

Why even chance being left sitting there in a house you can't afford on your alimony and lacking healthcare since you won't be able to keep up the COBRA payments for your former spouse's plan (and besides, that ends in a few months) nor can you purchase non-group insurance in the market sine premiums for those in their 40s/50s in perfect health jump to a whooping $500-700 a month? You will rip through that property settlement in months paying for ordinary expenses.

What will you do for income? Your degree is out-of-date, your skills non-existent - or at least as far as the job market is concerned. You will run smack into the excuses for not hiring such as "not eough experience", "not up to date" , "the other candidate has more recent experence".... All of these are code phrases for "not hiring you, babe, because you are OLD" and these days 'old'means over 40 in hiring decisions. I should know what they mean - I was a labor/emplyment lawyer representing employers.

Even if you can find some kind of work, it is extremely rare for anyone to live as well after a divorce as they did before - and for women it is particuarly dvestating.

Studes have shown that among elderly women that after the death of their spouse, nearly 42% have been unable to afford the same level of access to medical care. They typically lose access to their spouse's employer sponsored retiree health insurance and often the spouse's pension. Their income has dropped that much as their earnings in their own right were so little that they had very little in their own retirement funding .

If someone told you that your child had a 1 in 5 chance of being extremely poor or getting a serious illness, would you take steps to avoid that happening if you could? If it were 1 in 3? 1 in 5?

The reality is that there is a signifant risk to the economic well-being of women of ALL classes due to divorce or the death of the spouse.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 3:05 PM

"In return for
affording her husband the male privilege
of having a stay-at-home wife, she enjoys
the female privilege of *being* a stay-at-home wife."

I do not fancy being checked off as a dependent nor regarded as one, therefore, I work outside of the home.

One person's privilege may be completely inappropriate and even offensive to another.

But Matt, if you wish to be a stay-at-home parent and your wife can and will supply all the money, go for it. Perhaps you will find it to your liking. And, of course, that applies to your spouse.

I do not wish to risk penury in my old age, so I do not risk it now.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 3:09 PM

to you're-too-spineless-to-post-with-a-name-so-we-can-respond at 2:20,

situation: 9, 7, and 2.5. Mom works the front counter at McDonalds for $7.20 per hour. Dad works two jobs, he's a full-time police officer and a part-time security guard at Best Buy. Mom's schedule changes on a weekly basis depending on whether McD's is short-staffed, and she often comes home at 2 a.m. after the kids are in bed. Mom's sister picks the younger children up from an under-staffed but affordable daycare center down the street. With Dad's two jobs, he sees the kids for several hours on one of the two weekend days. There are no family vacations.

My hard-working poor family doesn't get to see its kids any more than your hard-working wealthy family. If you're going to judge the wealthy family based on how much time you believe they spend with their kids, then for consistency's sake, we have to condemn the working poor family I describe as well. Most of us who are the children of immigrants would heartily disagree that poor families don't have the right to reproduce because there's some sort of arbitrary family-quality-time threshhold out there imposed by a small subset of parents. Then why is it alright to condemn the reproductive choices of the wealthy? Oh, that's right. You're not condemning the reproductive choices of the wealthy necessarily, only the wealthy moms who are employed outside the home. In other words, you'd be fine with the idea of hotshot dad rarely seeing his kids as long as mom's not a banker.

In the 1920s, my husband's great-grandmother left her husband and kids in Lebanon to come to the U.S. to make a better life for her family. She worked her tuckus off, sent money back home and they joined her here in the US 7 years later. My great-grandmother-in-law sacrificed her enjoyment of those early years with her kids in order to provide for her family and future generations. Her kids, grandkids and great-grandkids applaud her sacrifice every day as they get up in the U.S. and go about their business.

Maybe the wealthy parents you describe are shallow, valueless creeps who should not have reproduced, but if so, it's not because the mother's a banker or because they have hobbies or because of the number of hours they log with their kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 3:16 PM

"It is only over this last generation that we have raised a large number of children with no SAHP"

Really?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4962880.stm

"One and a half year old Barsa cries incessantly. Thrashing her frail limbs around in agony, she appears upset at all the attention she's getting [at a feeding center on the day the article was written].

"Her mother Rukma, no more than a child herself, unsuccessfully tries to soothe her...

"...In her family of 14 everyone has to work in the field to earn their bread. And feeding the infant is obviously not a priority here.

"'We have a small land-holding, but that's not enough to feed everyone. So I work from the morning till late evening as a farm labourer. I feed her when I get the time. But where is the time?' Rukma asks..."

Barsa's situation seems more like a generations-old authentic tradition than like an untested newfangled innovation.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 3:17 PM

"So the total time my DD is awake in day care is approximately 3 1/2 hours a day....So why do people say that my kid is stuck in day care, that someone else is raising her? Do they really expect she doesn't attend school? Next year DD will go to preschool 5 mornings a week and will be in day care in the afternoons. When she goes to kindergarten, I plan to work 7 hours a day/ 5 days a week....she will be in after school care only on Monday's till 3 (early dismissal) and morning care for a whooping 30 minutes each morning. Why are some SAHMs still admant that this is problem?"

foamgnome - I'm not saying that this is a "problem" because I don't think it's a problem if it works for you. This is just my opinion that I realize that vast majority of people disagree with me about (SAHPs and WOHPs alike - because most children do go to preschool once they're 3 or 4, even if they have a SAHP.)

I think it's incorrect to say "my daughter is only in daycare for 3 1/2 hours a day" when you're arguing about the little time she spends away from her parent(s). After reading about your/her day and the plans for the next couple of years, I'm assuming that she is 3 years old and is away from you or your husband for 34 hours a week. So, part of that time s "preschool"..she's still being cared for by people outside of your family. And that's what's important to me. As long as the daycare is a high quality, caring situation, I don't differentiate between "daycare" and "preschool." It's all child care.

I don't assume that everyone will homeschool (although obviously many do.) My children go to school once they're in kindergarten (3 hours a day) and full time (6.25 hours a day) in 1st grade. I realize that you can put the cutoff for "how much school is appropriate" at whatever age you want, but I think there's huge difference between a 8 year old being in school for 6 1/2 hours a day and a 3 year old being in preschool/daycare for 9 hours a day or a 6 month old being in daycare for 10 hours a day - because I feel as children get older, they're better equipped to spend more time away from their parents. So when you say "what's the big deal about my 3 year old being in preschool/daycare for 9 hours a day - they're going to go to school later anyway, aren't they?" I say "yes, LATER."

Posted by: momof4 | January 9, 2007 3:18 PM

I said my DD spends 3 1/2 hours a day four days a week awake. I disagree with you that there is no difference between day care or preschool. Very well run day cares are close to preschools. But my DD actually attends a preschool run by the public school system for speech delayed children. Do you think she shouldn't be going and getting the extra speech help that she needs? According to the speech therapists, early intervention is best. Not waiting till later.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 9, 2007 3:24 PM

No, of course your daughter should be having early intervention. You're missing my point. She's still away from you, and she's still very young. I was saying that I don't agree with the argument that "what's the big deal about my young child going to preschool or daycare for 35 (40, 50) hours a week...she's going to school eventually isn't she?"

Posted by: momof4 | January 9, 2007 3:29 PM

I don't assume that everyone will homeschool (although obviously many do.)

Homeschooled kids are weird and who sends their kid to kindergarten for only three hours?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 3:34 PM

foamgnome and momof4, here's what I don't get (and I'm not being snarky, I don't know much about early childhood development): I don't remember being left at daycare as a toddler (I was), but I do remember being a latchkey kid. If parents are concerned about being with their children, shouldn't it be when the kids will remember them being there and when the kids need them most (like when they're being tempted by drugs and slacking off)? I wouldn't expect my child to remember who cared for her during her infancy, but I would expect her to remember that I was there to help with algebra.

Posted by: Meesh | January 9, 2007 3:37 PM

momof4, I respectively disagree with your failure to distinguish, as foamgnome does, between the amount of time one's child spends asleep, and the amount of time one's child awake, in a preschool environment. When they're asleep, it doesn't matter who's providing the secure environment in which sleep occurs.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 3:38 PM

Stephanie, thank you. We wouldn't starve if I didn't work, but my work satisfies me in a way I don't think staying home with my daughter would, especially now that she's in high school and busier with her own schedule. I'm a college professor, and I am always surprised that so many of my female students assume they'll marry a high-earning man and stay home with their kids. Given the divorce rate, the high cost of living, and the vagaries of the job market, this doesn't seem like an entirely economically realistic life plan to me. I know men who experience the responsibility of being the sole breadwinner as a burden; because they feel driven to put in the long hours, they end up sacrificing balance in their own lives. Men want balance for themselves and their families as much as women do.

Posted by: mamie | January 9, 2007 3:41 PM

"Homeschooled kids are weird".

Seriously, dude, is that the best you can come up with as a contribution to the topic? Broaden your worldview and join us in the 2000s.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 3:42 PM

Glad that my question was better received this time, and the comments that have come from it have been interesting.

Takoma Mom: Don't worry, just throw your opinion out there. If there were clear, obvious evidence that answered the question, it wouldn't be much of a thought to ponder.

Fof4: As SMF pointed out, or drug laws fill a large part of or jails, to say the least. Non violent drug offenders from mandatory drug laws are another long topic for another time, but suffice to say this libertarian leaning person finds it a gigantic waste. Oddly this comes from an (Irish)man that mostly doesn't even drink, much less do drugs. I would however accept our violent culture overall as a symbol of us doing a worse job as a society raising our kids. Especially if you throw in that we are too busy to be as involved in knowing (at least as well as we used to) what our kids are doing on a regular basis.

Laura: You make some good points, but I disagree on some others, though you views are certainly arguable. Clearly there have been whole groups and subcultures that have historically had two WOH parents from economic necessity, but without trying to act as though they are dismissible, this group still fits more into the exception than the rule when looking at the whole society over time. Overall, modern life has been made so easy from automation that that almost aren't comparable times. Obviously, in rural times all families members worked, from dawn to dusk or longer. But they were working mostly in a single farm location and/or lived very much in close contact. The industrial revolution forced mostly outside the homestead locations for work, and until modern conveniences the SAHP (almost always Mom) had a very full and hard all day job just to keep the family functioning normally. The bon-bons/soap operas stereotype is a relatively recent historical invention, made possible from labor saving devices from the SAHP, though I admit I still find all day child rearing very hard work. But I still submit that full time employment for women WOH (outside of pink collar jobs, as listed earlier) really has only been with us in the middle-ish classes for 1.5 to at most 2 generations, and I suggest really societally large numbers of career tracked women is really only one generation old, if that.

NC Lawyer: I like your point about some parents thinking that $$ is vitally important to keep up with the Joneses our or times, in the hope of making sure our kids get the benefits our neighbor's kids do. I do think that reasoning is behind a sizable part of why some folks make the choices they do. Whether or not that is the best thing for us as a society is the thing that's not so clear. What do we sacrifice/balance out because others are doing those things is something I don't think we consider often enough as a society of parents. How often do we think that we are the only parents left on the planet that doesn't let their kids watch the inappropriate movie that EVERYONE each their kids age swears they have seen already? That think there is very little space left to be an innocent child in our society anymore? Or who worry about little Johnnie getting behind his peers who can buy every SAT prep tutor available?

Charlottsville: Your observations is noted and reasonable. There may be too many variables too reach a logical conclusion, but I find such occasional thought exercises useful, especially if I can manage to break out of my/society's usual presumptions or justifications and look at things macroscopically with fresh eyes and an open mind. I guess it is the scientist/inner child in me. I'm occasionally amazed at the new insights I can get from doing this.

And finally scarry: Clearly, you obviously relied on finding a partner of great logic... :~) Good for you. And we Engineers make great husbands **pausing to toot own horn**, even if as a group we are somewhat higher on the potential nerdiness and lower on the emotional and expressiveness quotient meter (though I like to believe present company excluded.) I was just remarking on the amazement we guys would find in hearing that some women actually prefer to marry doctors or lawyers, for we guys would find that a truly shocking revelation... ;~)

Now I get to post this mini-novella and find out how outdated it already is...

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | January 9, 2007 3:45 PM

"Homeschooled kids are weird".

Seriously, dude, is that the best you can come up with as a contribution to the topic? Broaden your worldview and join us in the 2000s

Just call them as I see them. 2000s-case in point.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 3:45 PM

I work part time from home and love keeping my hand into my field and sometimes the balance works (preggers - just be sure you budget for childcare! Especially once they're mobile!) and sometimes it doesn't, for sure.

For me it really is a life*style* choice - more time for less disposable income.

I have to second though that there are just as many vapid people at work as at home. That's highly dependent on individuals... and their interests.

Posted by: Shandra | January 9, 2007 3:47 PM

Texas dad of 2,

haha, I knew my man would make some money one day that is why I picked him! :) Who cares if he is nerdy or addicted to new technology.

Posted by: scarry | January 9, 2007 3:51 PM

" respectively disagree with your failure to distinguish, as foamgnome does, between the amount of time one's child spends asleep, and the amount of time one's child awake, in a preschool environment. When they're asleep, it doesn't matter who's providing the secure environment in which sleep occurs. "

I'm not failing to distinguish what you think I'm not distinguishing. I misunderstood (or just missed the word "awake") foamgnome's original accounting of where and how her daughter spent her day. I agree that it doesn't matter where a child is sleeping. But when they're awake, I don't differentiate between a high quality daycare and a preschool. That was my point - I thought she was trying to argue that her daughter wasn't in daycare for that long each day...but she's away from her parents for over 8 1/2 hours a day, which is a long time for a 3 year old, imo.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 3:56 PM

Momof4: she would be away from me at preschool, whether I was a SAHM or not. She needs to go for speech therapy. So, the awake time that we are apart or she is not with a parent is still 3 1/2 hours. I am not saying what is the big deal because eventually she will go to school. The reality is DD has been in school for 2 school year already due to her speech therapy. So how would that change if I was a SAHM?

Posted by: foamgnome | January 9, 2007 3:58 PM

Today's posting was great. Echoing some of the sentiments above, thanks for finally providing a voice to women who don't think SAHM'ing is the be-all, end-all in achievements.

To Hoosier, you said:

Something I've been wondering: why do we look to high-achievers to model work/life balance once kids come along? (Reference: any alarmist media piece on high achieving women dropping out to become SAHM, one example Lisa Belkin's NYT magizine "Opt Out Revolution" cover story). I would argue that high achievers are *precisely* those women/people who are the *most* imbalanced - ie they achieve a lot because they are working all the time! Why should we look to them to model balance once kids are in the picture? Seems like no surprise to me that instead many of them flip whole hog into full-time parenting, after all, it's what they know.

Perhaps it's those of us low-acheivers who are muddling along trying to get a nice work-life balance before childbirth who are the better role models for balance after kids come along. ;)

Posted by: Hoosier | January 9, 2007 11:11 AM
---

I'm not sure anyone looks to high achieving women to "model work/life balance," as you put it. But what I think we do (and need to) look to these women for is to use their high achievements and leadership skills to break down as many glass ceilings as possible for the future good of ALL women. (and yes I've said this before and been roundly criticized for it.)

It is continually overlooked on this blog (particularly by the SAHMs) how much these women have done and continue to do in terms of furthering the feminist cause in our society, and what a tragedy it is when one of these women chooses not to pursue this course, but rather to stay at home full-time to meet little Billy and Sara after school.

We need these high-achieving women. If every one of these high achievers decides to throw it all away to stay at home, exactly how many opportunities are there going to be down the road for our daughters? I continue to be dismayed by the backward progress these days of well-educated women and their goals for the future.

Posted by: Cream of the Crop | January 9, 2007 4:02 PM

Why is it you can only see your own typos and managled grammer AFTER you post!?!

Argghh... >:~{

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | January 9, 2007 4:02 PM

To Anon 3:16:

I think you missed the point that the original anonymous poster was making: The wealthier set of parents CHOOSE their lifestyle and how many hours they're away from home. Surely, there's a selfish motive behind their hot-shot careers. It affords them the nannies and vacations, etc.

The situation you described is starkly different. I am sure the Mom working at McDonald's until 2 a.m. feels guilty, althought it's a necessity in order for her kids to eat, stay warm, etc.

Surely the wealthier couple--if by choosing to make some personal sacrifices, could come to an agreement, job schedules could be curtailed somehow. But that's assuming either one stopped to make that choice in the first place.

Posted by: meh | January 9, 2007 4:03 PM

Foamgnome and anyone else, why do you care what momof4 thinks of you and your family situation?

Posted by: momof4 != God | January 9, 2007 4:03 PM

People who live in school districts where the length of the kindergarten day is 3 hours are the sort of people who send their children to kindergarten for 3 hours a day. That's more than half of Fairfax County, at least. I don't know about other school systems.

Posted by: single mother by choice | January 9, 2007 4:05 PM

We don't care what momof4 thinks, we are just trying to understand how people view different work/life balance issues.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 9, 2007 4:05 PM

And before you ask, yes I forgot to put (sic) after my version of "mangled".

See...see what I mean??

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | January 9, 2007 4:06 PM

"Homeschooled kids are weird".

I was homeschooled and I'd have to agree. Ha! But I still think being weird was a small price to pay - it's an excellent option for those who can swing it. And who knows, I probably would've been weird anyway.

Posted by: TS | January 9, 2007 4:06 PM


Since it seems like a good moment for a lawyer joke:

A Russian, a Cuban, an American and a Lawyer are in a train.

The Russian takes a bootle of the Best Vodka out of his pack; pours some into a glass, drinks it, and says: "In USSR, we have the best vodka of the world, nowhere in the world you can find Vodka as good as the one we produce in Ukrainia. And we have so much of it, that we can just throw it away..." Saying that, he open the window and throw the rest of the bottle
thru it. All the others are quite impressed.

The Cuban takes a pack of Havanas, takes one of them, lights it and begins to smoke it saying: "In Cuba, we have the best cigars of the world: Havanas, nowhere in the world there is so many and so good cigars and we have so much of them, that we can just throw them away...". Saying that, he throws the pack of havanas thru the window. One more time, everybody is
quite impressed.

At this time, the American just stands up, opens the window, and throws the Lawyer through it...

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 4:08 PM

If a lawyer and an IRS agent were both drowning, and you could only save
one of them, would you go to lunch or read the paper?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 4:11 PM

Too funny, anon@04:08 PM !!!

Hey NC and the many other lawyers wasting time on this blog, can you top that one?? :~) You know you guys have heard all the best lawyer jokes...

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | January 9, 2007 4:12 PM

Texas Dad - if raising the "me" generation and a cadre of adults who are arrogant and selfish means that the generation of two FT working parents has done a "better" job of parenting, then they have.
That is the intuitive opinion I declined to initially express, and even now almost wish I wasn't typing ... wrong audience for this sort of feeling ...

Posted by: TakomaMom | January 9, 2007 4:14 PM

But in this case, I think you've reached an impasse. She doesn't think kids should be away from home until they're 5 or 6. You disagree (as do I, fwiw), but really, what does it matter?

Posted by: momof4 != God | January 9, 2007 4:15 PM

I don't mean this in a mean way at all, but why would anyone want to home school their kids? The only reason I could see is if the kids were in danger at school because it was in a bad neighborhood.

Posted by: scarry | January 9, 2007 4:15 PM

Meesh: That is why I plan to only work 7 hours a day when she goes to school. So I can be there after school. It is easy to find quality care for infants, toddler, and preschoolers for 15K a year. Try finding that for a middle or HSer.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 9, 2007 4:16 PM

To Scarry: Because the schools in the area are abysmal and the family can't afford private school (true for one family I know). Or because kiddo is being bullied at school and the teachers/administration refuse to do anything.

These are two secular reasons for homeschooling, and ones which I approve. I can't say as much for the fundie types who don't want their kids "contaminated" however.

Posted by: Flyonthewall | January 9, 2007 4:19 PM

You're a chicken!

Posted by: to Fo4 | January 9, 2007 4:22 PM

Scarry,

My sister began homeschooling because the school in her small town is horribly overcrowded and provides a lousy education. Homeschooling allows her daughter to go at her own pace, which is rapid for reading/social studies/foreign languages and a bit slower for math and science. They can accomplish more in 2 hours a day than her daughter was learning in 12+ at school. As a result, her daughter is able to have more fun and engage in more sports and hobbies on her own than time would otherwise permit. My niece is 14 and very well adjusted. It works for them.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 9, 2007 4:25 PM

To DC is EXPENSIVE - why do you live in DC if you can't afford it? Why did you not plan better before you had a child? Why do you stay in an area where "public schools are AWFUL" and you cannot afford to buy a house? There are plenty of places where your 2k month rent would buy you a decent house.
"but we;re not poor, we're not rich ,so we get screwed as usual" how because you choose to live in one of the most expensive cities in the world and apparently both chose professions that do not support the lifestyle you wish to have?

Posted by: mom2b | January 9, 2007 4:27 PM

There are alternatives for bullying. My younger brother had learning disabilities and was in special education classes with some real headcases.

Three of said headcases were hauled away in handcuffs when the system failed to adequately address matters. Its your kid, and its ok to destroy any degenerate kids that want to harm them.

Don't hide, get aggressive.

Posted by: James Buchanan | January 9, 2007 4:29 PM

Texas Dad of 2,

the last joke I posted must not have complied with this blog's user rules - ha!

Two small boys, not yet old enough to be in school, were overheard talking at the zoo one day. "My name is Billy. What's yours?" asked the first boy. "Tommy," replied the second. "My Daddy's an accountant. What does your Daddy do for a living?" asked Billy. Tommy replied, "My Daddy's a lawyer." "Honest?" asked Billy. "No, just the regular kind", replied Tommy.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 9, 2007 4:29 PM

Scarry,

Not a huge advocate myself, but I can come up with a few potential reasons to home school.

1) Not thinking that the early indutrial revoultion concept of warehousing to teach is any longer a good one (if it ever was)
2) Teaching now is often to a test, instead of toward critical thinking
3) Teaching coming from someone you love and trust is often received and sinks in a very different way from a student than from strangers
4) The education industry in this country pretends toward diversity, but they are almost "animal farm" in their lock-step thinking on social issues. If it isn't in the current PC-acceptable mode, then it is baaaad. Such topics will not be taught (or even thought about or allowed to be discussed)
5) Under- and over-achievers are shortchanged, since regardless of what is said, teachers much teach to the average ability of the class

There are many other reaonable reasons why someone might home school. There are likely an equally reasonable number of reasons why one might decide not to home school. But I can respect those who do, especially those who do so well.

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | January 9, 2007 4:30 PM

mom2b,

DC is expensive for people who did plan for the their life. I planned mine and me and my husband both had decent jobs and we still had a hard time. I also have to agree that the middle class does get screwed a lot.

THanks for the responses on home schooling. I bet it is a lot of work.

Posted by: scarry | January 9, 2007 4:31 PM

mom2b is going to find out when she starts popping them out that DC is expensive. hehe

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 4:33 PM

Scarry,

My parents homeschooled us for much the similar reasons outlines by the previous posters. They aren't fundamentalists or anything. The schools in the area were poor and my brother and I tested as "gifted." They thought they could do a better job with us since they were both ex-college professors. We were both skipped ahead grades in public school before this, but it turned out badly due to us being smaller and more vulnerable to bullying since we were younger than our classmates. However, my mother had the luxury of being able to stay at home to teach us.

Posted by: TS | January 9, 2007 4:34 PM

TS,

I bet you had a really interesting upbringing and education. One of the reasons why I ask is because my cousin is being homeschooled and he does it all on the computer. His mother teaches him nothing and is really uninvolved.

Again, thanks for the responses.

Posted by: scarry | January 9, 2007 4:35 PM

What do you call a busload of lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?

A good start.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 4:38 PM

Well, to be honest, there were times that we definitely did sort of teach ourselves. Much of our homeschooling consisted of lots and lots of reading on various subjects, so we tended to do that without much parental help. But my parents were there if we had questions and were definitely more involved with the science and math topics. We also used a correspondence course, so we had to take tests and write papers and send them in to the correspondence school in order to "pass" grades. This ensured we were getting a proper level of education.

That being said, we were homeschooled 15-20 years ago, so I know things have probably changed a lot now that everyone has computers and internet. We didn't have that - we spent lots of time at the library. Homeschooled kids today have a lot more social opportunities too.

Posted by: TS | January 9, 2007 4:41 PM

TakomaMom: Good for you. You have every right to that intuition/opinion. There is likely more truth to it than is readily admitted around here. When wealth becomes the societal measuring stick of importance, some of that attitude is unavoidable. As with most such things, this also carries a cost to society.

NC lawyer: Now that's better... :~) Any more? Must admit now my curiosity is piqued about what you hint at having been (previously) removed? Was it interestingly salacious or something?

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | January 9, 2007 4:44 PM

About Divorce Rates...they really aren't that high for college educated people with decent salaries who waited a little while to get married....
There are articles all over the internet about the "Divorce Divide" I don't have time to filter out which ones are best, but here are a few:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divorce
http://www.family.org/socialissues/A000000629.cfm
http://www.divorcereform.org/nyt05.html

They state facts such as, "the rate of divorce among college graduates had by 2002 dropped to near 20%, roughly half that of non-college graduates"

"But for college graduates, the divorce rate in the first
10 years of marriage has plummeted to just over 16 percent of those married
between 1990 and 1994 from 27 percent of those married between 1975 and
1979."

Posted by: mom2b | January 9, 2007 4:46 PM

To Posted by: | January 9, 2007 03:05 PM : Hmm ....funny I was able to find jobs with absolutely no experience right out of college when my degree (political science) didn't relate at all to my chosen career paths....I worked a little harder at first to prove myself but I fail to see how volunteer work and part time work to pad my resume through my stay at home time would could for no experience, like I had when I graduated from college.

And as for "If someone told you that your child had a 1 in 5 chance of being extremely poor or getting a serious illness, would you take steps to avoid that happening if you could? If it were 1 in 3? 1 in 5? "Obviously yes.....just like I take steps towards preventing a divorce, just like I plan on taking steps (volunteer work, part time work on keeping my skill sharp, just like I plan on making sure my husband has enough life insurance, just like I have a substantial portfolio of investments to fall back on, and a thousand other things I have planed to make the life that I want work for me.................I plan a lot.

Posted by: mom2b | January 9, 2007 4:53 PM

"How funny! Someone just admitted that watching children is a LOW SKILLED JOB!!"

Just because we happen to use low skilled labor to do something doesn't mean that it's a "low skilled job" - could be that we're just not giving it the attention it needs. (For example, look at all those bozos we have in Congress? Surely we could afford better help!)

Have you ever known a homeowner who tried to go cheap on home repairs or improvements, and hired someone who really didn't know what they were doing? Just because you can get an illiterate schmuck to rewire your kitchen doesn't mean that it's a low-skilled job - it just means you're gonna fry yourself the first time you try to flip on the light when the floor's a bit damp.

Are our child care arrangements sometimes as shortsided as using that schmuck for the rewiring project? I wonder how many parents (and, ultimately, their kids) are going to get zapped by it . . .

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 5:01 PM

well, Texas Dad of 2, I'm giving up for the day, my last three posts have . . . not posted. Life's too short. I'll just lurk.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 9, 2007 5:01 PM

"Hey Demos, all parents who change diapers are buttwipers . . . Offended yet?"

Well, I might be, were the work "butt" to retain any connotation of "crudeness" in our society.

Posted by: Demos | January 9, 2007 5:02 PM

'Why homeschool?
The homeschooling families I know have kids who are either brilliant, artistically gifted or who travel a lot for some special reason (one example -- an ice skater who competes on the national and international level; another example -- the children of an author who spends a lot of time on the road and who, by homeschooling, is able to take her whole family traveling with her; another example -- a family that went on an around-the-world sailing trip). Our local school district coordinates a lot with homeschoolers, lets them belong to school sports teams and clubs, for example, and allows even a sort of part-time attendance.
Home schooling is definitely not for me and probably not for most people, but for certain people in special circumstances who need a lot of flexibility it's a good option. In short, homeschooling -- which used to be known as "correspondence" education -- is not just for religious nuts or people who live in places with rotten public schools.
(Also, forgot to add, for people in very rural areas, homeschooling might be the only option)

Posted by: anonymous one | January 9, 2007 5:05 PM

Dang, NC. Too many bad words or something?? I've never had a posting stopped, but I do always do letter substitution as a matter of course to bypass annoying blog-type censors...

But do go home...it has been a long day.

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | January 9, 2007 5:08 PM

" . . . you advocating for avoiding jokes because someone on the blog will become offeded ON BEHALF of the babies?"

Meesh,

does something have to be directed at me, personally, for me to call it as offensive? Would it be o.k. if we used this blog to direct not just criticism, but crude epithets at immigrants who are not literate in English (and would not, thus, be reading the blog)? I don't think so.

Beyond that, this blog is directly concerned with issues of parenthood. I'd suggest that, using your reasoning, this is important on two levels. First, many if not most of the participants may be presumed to be parents, and thus personally concerned with babies. Second - "crotchfruit"? Just how flattering is that towards the parents themselves?

"So basically, we can't make fun of money-hungry bosses or clueless celebs because someone here might be offended in their honor."

Not at all. But look carefully at your own language. You're making fun in terms of the behavioral characteristics that deserve criticism. I'm absolutely fine with joking about selfish kids, clueless teens, materialistic high-schoolers, etc. But (leaving Ms. Spears most recent escapedes out of the discussion for the moment), would you really be comfortable making fun of either bosses or celebrities using names based on the term "crotch"?

"In all fairness, people of all kinds are made fun of on the blog on a daily basis (like feminists, which really gets my goat), but you have to let it go. the person who wants to offend by using that language will eat up your reply but she/he can see your hackles raised. Don't give him/her the satisfaction."

Absolutely - I don't want to be politically correct. But we should, as a blogging "society" if you will, encourage a minimum level of respect and civility. That requires that we thow down a penalty flag every now and then - even if we are ridiculed for it.

Meesh - I like and respect you. And yes, we have to put up with juvenile humor every now and then (and we've all be responsible for just a little bit of it ourselves). But isn't there a point at which it's appropriate to say "hey, that's a bit too much?"

Posted by: Demos | January 9, 2007 5:16 PM

All right, TX Dad of 2, here is my attempt at lawyer humor (apologize in advance for the mangling).

A man is flying in a hot-air balloon, and realizes that he has no idea where he is. He sees another man on a hilltop, and drops down to ask.

"Excuse me," he says, "do you know where I am?"

"Why, yes," the man replies. "You are at 87 degrees latitude, 42 degrees longitude, proceeding in a northeasterly direction at approximately 7 knots."

"You must be an engineer," says the first man.

"Why is that?" says the second.

"Because everything you have told me is completely correct and precise, and yet is completely useless."

"And you must be a lawyer," says the second man.

"Why is that?" asks the first.

"Because you clearly have no idea where you are, what you are doing, or where you are going, but now that is somehow my fault."

Posted by: Laura | January 9, 2007 5:20 PM

I think "crotchfruit" is funny. Never heard that one before :)

Posted by: anon | January 9, 2007 5:21 PM

Do home schooled kids have trouble getting into college? Would think that it has to be a disadvantage, but probably no stats to back that up. What about when they have to get a job? Must be a harder adjustment for them, as most bosses are not OK with you going at your own pace or only working 2 hrs a day.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 5:21 PM

"I think "crotchfruit" is funny. Never heard that one before :)"

These are too! Crotchloaf, crotchnugget, f**ktrophy, sprog, semen demon, crotchdropping...I'll find more!

Posted by: FUN | January 9, 2007 5:28 PM

Cute, Laura. I heard a version of that one with women vs. men theme. But that was a cute one... :~)

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | January 9, 2007 5:30 PM

tot anon at 5:21. Some colleges are friendlier towards home-schooled applicants than others. Just like traditional students, home-schooled students need to take these college preparatory classes or, otherwise, learn the course material. I understand that SAT and ACT scores from homeschooled applicants generally are higher than from other applicants.

Most bosses are not OK with an employee who "works" 5.5 hours per day, the length of the state-mandated school day, or with taking summers off. Was your point that somehow homeschoolers are less diligent or prepared to work a job than a public or private school student? Really. You're kidding, right?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 5:32 PM

O.k. Meesh - perhaps you were right after all. My objections do seem to have brought the mutants and farm animals out to play.

Too bad they can't be housebroken - then they might be fit to join adult society.

Posted by: Demos | January 9, 2007 5:33 PM

"African Americans and women are both reading and responding to the comments posted on this blog. We should avoid derogatory terms directed at them because they can read them and become offended."

I am Caucasian, and I disagree. The reason to avoid derogatory terms is because they are derogatory, not because a member of the insulted group might read them and become offended. if one utters the "n" word in the forest, and no one African-American is around to hear it, its utterance is still offensive and speaks to the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the utterer. In other words, it's the derogatory term and not the nature of the audience that reveals the soul of the person who says it.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 5:40 PM

Don't bother searching for more. That post was enough to cause me to log off for a month. And I'm a regular contributor and not a prude. If I want to see that kind of garbage, I'll listen to Howard Stern. See y'all. Why do the jerks have to ruin everything...

Posted by: to FUN | January 9, 2007 5:53 PM

TX Dad of 2: I like the lawyer version, because I'm a lawyer married to an engineer, and it seems to capture the difference pretty well.

BTW, here's my favorite engineer joke -- well, not really a joke, just scarily accurate (my husband heard it and didn't even laugh -- just said, "well, duh, of course").

An optimist sees the glass as half full
A pessimist sees the glass as half empty
An engineer sees that the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

Posted by: Laura | January 9, 2007 5:55 PM

I had no problem getting into college. If anything, it was easier because schools were intrigued by my non-traditional background, although I did choose more liberal arts based schools. I'd probably have had a harder time getting into an engineering school or something more technical, though. I don't think MIT would have accepted me. I did take the SAT and scored pretty well so I had that going for me.

As for working "at your own pace" or only "2 hours a day," I find I am actually better at accomplishing more in a given day than many people. I'm used to focusing without supervision and don't need a lot of hand-holding. I credit the homeschooling for making me that way, not any particular inner gifts.

Posted by: TS | January 9, 2007 5:58 PM

I admit to not reading all of the posts so apologize if this topic has already been addressed. But I can't let this comment from "Don't Get It" go unanswered: If your kids are so important why isn't it important that you be there when they get off the bus.

Why is being able to meet the bus a measure of good parenting? I am the mother of three children and have always worked full time. My children all stayed after school at a supervised program until I could pick them up. During those three hours they had a nutritious snack, played board games, sports, did arts and crafts projects, ran around outside on the playground, and had fun with their friends while under close adult supervision. My kids loved that program and moaned everytime I came to pick them up that they wanted to stay longer. They came home all "played out" and ready to eat dinner and do homework.

What on earth is wrong with that? Why is that experience inferior to coming home straight after school? Do most parents really spend every minute after their child gets off the bus playing with them? How many instead are plopped down in front of the TV for afternoon cartoons?

Posted by: MP | January 9, 2007 6:29 PM

a couple of things:

I can meet the bus, but I choose not to because my kids would rather dawdle home with their friends. I used to meet the bus when it was a dangerous walk home due to traffic (we have since moved). My kids like being home to play with their friends and do other stuff, but at least once a week stay after for various things--academic team, etc. It wouldn't take much for them to want to stay more often. Since they have a 25 minute lunch and one of them has no recess, they would love to have the chance to hang out with their friends a little more.

My husband's half siblings were home schooled. One is now in medical school, the other probably in rehab. Go figure. I was going to home school, but then I realized I do not like jail. I would probably kill my kids.

MP, I enjoyed your post. While my kids do not watch t.v. after school, I do not spend a lot of time with them before dinner. They are either reading or playing. I spend about 15 minutes with them after school getting the daily details, then they are off doing what they do. Around dinner time we regroup to cook and do a few chores, eat dinner as a family then spin off again. At bedtime we reconnect for fifteen minutes. My kids are 10 and 12. It isn't this rigid, of course, but not atypical (they are currently racing to get chores done so they can get in the jacuzzi with me--a little more family time!)

What do parents of middle schoolers and high schoolers do? I think that is hardest of all. When my oldest is getting ready for college I will probably go back full time (I am part time now), but then the youngest will be 15. I hope my husband will be telecommuting more by then!

Just a note: my sister, whom I adore, was the first one of my family to finish college, and the only one so far to get a master's degree. She went back to work when her maternity leave was up, crying all the way. She eventually went part time, then her husband was transferred to a tiny town. There were no job prospects in her field or even out of it! So she stayed home, had another child, and has been looking for a job now for 2-3 years. Granted, she lives in flyover country, but not in a place that has no jobs. She is intelligent, hard working (pta president, organized, everything I am not), well educated, but is now in the process of becoming a substitute teacher. It is the only job she can find. Her kids are great. I used to be slightly jealous that she could stay home full time while I needed to work part time, but in reality, she worked much harder as a SAHM than I did as a WOHM/PT. Her resume is much more impressive than mine, yet I could get a job faster because I am already employed. Two women in my neighborhood just had their husbands--mid-thirties--decide to leave them with no warning. Lesson: keep your resume updated; take a class now and then, and remember, sadly or gladly, the kids do grow up.

Posted by: jane | January 9, 2007 8:00 PM

To Mom2be

I planned my life, and that included moving from the midwest back to this area after I adopted my first daughter. Yes, my so called standard of living was better when I could afford to a nice custom built house on a wooded lot that overlooked the elementary school. But my quality of life is better now in my tiny townhouse with two girls, the cleft palate team for my younger daughter is closer to home, and I highly value being near my family. So I don't complain about the cost of living here. But it is a fact that it is more expensive here than many other places.

Posted by: single mother by choice | January 9, 2007 8:06 PM

With respect to divorce statistics there is a difference between a lower chance and low chance... perhaps I am just a chicken - but a 1 in 5 chance of divorce seems like something that should be worried about (or at least taken into consideration). Even if you can take away other risk factors to bring the # down to 1 in 10 many of us would still think that is a high probability not a low one!

Posted by: to mom2be | January 9, 2007 11:18 PM

But it is a fact that it is more expensive here than many other places.

mom2be doesn't get it just like many other people in DC don't get it. They think the edge of the world stops in Bethesda and they have no idea about cost of living.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 8:37 AM

Demos, great points. I completely agree with you. I hope to see you again soon on the blog.

Posted by: Meesh | January 10, 2007 8:46 AM

Kudos on the essay, LawyerMama! Well said!

http://punditmom1.blogspot.com

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