A Tale of Two Decembers

By Denise Aranoff-Brown

Since I moved to the D.C. area almost 10 years ago, I have been a marketing executive in the banking/financial services industry running a 40-person department. We moved here so my husband could start a new business and I could support us while he ramped up. We had two kids in three years. Our sons, now 7 and 4, were well cared for in day care and after-care programs that they have attended since they were 3 months old.

All was very "balanced" in our lives. Except that inertia had set in professionally and I had zero time to figure out what I wanted to do. Then, suddenly last December, I was offered a generous severance package and literally walked away from my career.

Now, I had time to look for that next, more inspiring opportunity. But in 10 years in which I had accomplished so much personally and professionally, I had done nothing to define what I wanted to do next, and I knew very few people in business in D.C. who could help me explore industries different from banking. I was well-versed in customer privacy laws and regulations and had a valuable understanding of mortgages and credit products. But I wanted my next job to be about relationships with customers, personal passion and mission, feeling part of something bigger.

The DC/Baltimore area has lots of great opportunities, if you know where to find them. I had no clue.

The first thing I learned is that there are a lot of people out there to help. I hired a career coach, which cost about $350 a month. To network, I called the three business acquaintances I could come up with, pulled up the online directory from my grad school, and sent random e-mails to alums at businesses I thought I'd like to know better. Together with one of these new friends, I founded a women's interest group drawing from grad school alums and terrific professional women I've been meeting along the way.

I learned that people are flattered when asked for advice. And I learned that I am not the only person looking for more who doesn't know how to begin. My husband and I kept the kids in their existing daycare/after-care routines. Although I was able to chaperone more field trips and be a classroom parent more often, I didn't want them -- or me -- getting used to having mom 100 percent at home because I knew I wouldn't be there forever. But I also realized how nice it was for our family to have me around a lot more.

I'm happy to report that my search is officially over. After a few almost-offers throughout the year, an opportunity came along quickly that I knew was right from the start. In January, I will become the head of marketing for the National Aquarium in Baltimore and D.C. It's exciting on so many levels: the chance to prove that my skills are truly transferable, the important mission I get to represent, the way that peoples' eyes light up when I tell them where I will be working.

And my kids are very excited about feeding dolphins.

I'm grateful to have had this year of change. But I worry that we aren't going to be able to adapt to being a two-career household again. And we're just as busy as ever -- this weekend alone we've got three parties, four sports activities, and don't get me started about buying holiday presents -- so I don't have time to be methodical about managing this transition.

What's your advice on how to make yet another change?


Denise Aranoff-Brown lives in Gaithersburg with one husband, two sons and a yellow lab. She starts her new job at the National Aquarium in Baltimore in January.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  December 11, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Guest Blogs
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Just be up front with the kids. They are old enough to understand that mommy will be working again but that that does not mean she loves them any less. Make sure you spend some extra time with them on the weekends so it does not feel like they are losing too much mommy time all at once. I think kids understand more than we give them credit for.

Good Luck

And oh.....First!

Posted by: happydad | December 11, 2007 7:22 AM

Good for you. Sounds like you have a lot to look forward to! That said, there was one part I didn't understand - "I didn't want them -- or me -- getting used to having mom 100 percent at home because I knew I wouldn't be there forever." I could understand keeping the caregivers so you wouldn't lose your spot, or because you were busy with the job search, but just so they wouldn't get used to you being at home? We don't cancel summer because kids get used to playing and not going to school? Using that logic I guess we should try not to spend a lot of time with our kids, lest they get used to us being around and when they go to college it will be a shock. Kids transition all the time, I think it might be nifty to have mom around more for awhile. Am I missing something?

Posted by: moxiemom1 | December 11, 2007 7:57 AM

MoxieMom, I understand your puzzlement. I think it depends on the kids and the family concerned. Some children, especially young ones like the Guest Blogger's, have a really hard time adapting to change, even a nice change like more time with mom. Think about elementary school, when you have the same teacher all year long, even if someone else might be "better" at teaching math or art or whatever. Kids that age need consistency.

And speaking from my experience, once I got my kids into daycare and aftercare programs, I was really, really reluctant to give up their spots, given how hard good care is to find.

It would have probably been different if she knew she wasn't going to return to work, or if she was conflicted about working and needed time to figure out whether she wanted to stay home fulltime. But it doesn't sound that way. So I think she was doing the right thing for herself and her family by keeping the kids in the same programs.

Posted by: leslie4 | December 11, 2007 8:21 AM

Leslie: kids are SO adaptable. It's amazing when people say they aren't. They can adapt to anything - MUCH better than adults. Adults get set in their ways and all - kids lives are changing all the time and they are MUCH better at going with the flow. Sure, there is transition time - but changing? It doesn't take very long for them to do it and get used to it.

Kids are so adaptable. I understand the thought that the author is trying to convey, but maybe it was better said a different way.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | December 11, 2007 8:41 AM

" I understand the thought that the author is trying to convey, but maybe it was better said a different way."

What she said.

Posted by: chittybangbang | December 11, 2007 8:45 AM

I actually think the opposite. Capture the moment because you may never get it back. Spend as much time and as much fun time with your kids while your home. Of course you would preface every discussion with and "one day soon Mommy will return to work and work is important for (name reasons)." You do need to keep day care spots and some semblence of routine. But this is a great time, to pull the kids out once or twice a week to just hang out or do things you could not normally do if you were both working. Enjoy these last few weeks and the holidays. It sounds like you got a great place to work.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 11, 2007 8:54 AM

I say enjoy the holidays and deal with the transition in January. You won't know how the new job affects the other parts of your life until you start. Sounds to me like you will be able to find your groove. Your story is really inspirational for anyone contemplating a similar move to new or more meaningful work.

Posted by: anne.saunders | December 11, 2007 9:27 AM

I agree SOME kids are very adaptable -- more so than we give them credit for.

But some are not. And they don't have complex verbal skills to tell you how they feel. It reminds me of when people say "kids are so resilient" when the parents are going through a bad divorce or there is a death in the family. Sometimes kids appear resilient or adaptable, but there is a lot going on under the surface that doesn't come out for years.

Part of being a good parent is knowing what kind of kid you have, and how much they can handle. Not making blanket assumptions or listening too much to outside "experts" or other parents who may have very different kinds of children.

Posted by: leslie4 | December 11, 2007 9:48 AM

I think it's sad when parents have a PERFECT opportunity to spend more time with their children and they don't take it.

What exactly are Denise's children going to have to get used to with her going back to work? Her not driving on a field trip 3 times a year? Since they've stayed in daycare and aftercare, what has changed for them in this past year that will be different once she goes back to work?

I don't buy the excuse of "some children need to keep their routine." When you never have given them a chance to live a more free life, it might be easy to think that, but Denise's comment about not wanting them to get used to having mom around 100% pretty much says that she knows that that's what they would prefer.

Posted by: fake99 | December 11, 2007 10:03 AM

Denise, great blog and good for you. It sounds like you really put thought into making this change work for you, and everything is working out so well. You're an inspiration.

As for the busy thing, I'm like a chicken with its head cut off these days. I started to do the math yesterday, and figured out that if I either take vacation from work for the next two weeks or avoid sleeping, I should be able to get everything done before Christmas. Oh, wait, neither of those options is truly possible. So I guess it's more caffeine and that hideous feeling of doing a half-a$$ed job in every which way . . . . it's months like this when I really, really wish I was a stay-at-home mom again!

Posted by: WorkingMomX | December 11, 2007 10:07 AM

Sounds to me like Denise did take the opportunity to spend a lot more time at her kids' school and with them. Why so much judgment? Do we really care that much about how much time other moms spend with their kids? Especially a woman you've never met? I think this kind of judgment says we are insecure about something in ourselves.

Posted by: leslie4 | December 11, 2007 10:07 AM

Denise, if you're reading comments today, I'm hoping you might be able to give me some advice. I'm 26 and my partner is working hard at getting his fledgling business up and running. I'm planning on attending law school next fall because although I have a promising career in HR, I think I'm more suited for it and I know that my steady income will be important to us. I was intruiged about your situation because it sounds similar to mine, at least where you all started out. We want to have kids in a couple of years, too. Did you find it hard to have kids, support an entreprenuerial spouse and keep your own sanity while working a full-time job? Can you speak to the challenges of being the steady income provider for a spouse who is starting his/her own business?

Posted by: JEGS | December 11, 2007 10:15 AM

"Denise Aranoff-Brown lives in Gaithersburg with one husband, two sons and a yellow lab."

Ok, so where does the other husband live?
Ba-dump, bump, crash!

Posted by: GutlessCoward | December 11, 2007 10:32 AM

Sounds to me like Denise did take the opportunity to spend a lot more time at her kids' school and with them. Why so much judgment? Do we really care that much about how much time other moms spend with their kids? Especially a woman you've never met? I think this kind of judgment says we are insecure about something in ourselves.

Posted by: leslie4 | December 11, 2007 10:07 AM

Leslie, to a certain degree every post is a reflection of our inner thoughts and values. And no one personally cares about this women or what she does with her kid. But the purpose of a guest blog is to throw out a topic, using a personal example, and thus people comment on what that person says.
As far as being judgmental, no one is saying she is a bad mother or a bad person. People are just saying her statement about not wanting her kids to get used to the idea of her being around 100% of the time is odd. And there is an inherent missed opportunity to spend more time (quality time) with her kids. But no one is saying that implies any particular judgment about her or her situation.
My guess is she did spend more time in and out of school with the kids. And doing more in school activities, which is nice and supportive, is different then taking the opportunity to pull your kid out of after school care a few days a week to just hang out or have fun. I am sure she could have gotten all or most of her job hunting work done during the hours of 8-3 and maybe two afternoons a week. That still leaves 3 days of week to see what being home after school for your kids is like. Again, my guess is she did do this but did not say it explicitly. We don't know because she did not say that.
But unless the kids has some sort of serious problem with change, most kids can adapt. Even if you took a period to transition. Cut down to two days a week, one day a week, till you hit the same schedule.
Also, it is kind of funny that you think it says something about people's insecurity. Don't you think the question could be turned around to say why are you so defensive about this?

Posted by: foamgnome | December 11, 2007 10:37 AM

Wow foamgnome! I'm not sure if this will make you cringe ;), but I just have to say that this is, in my opinion, the best post you have ever made - and that I agree with you completely!

Posted by: fake99 | December 11, 2007 10:39 AM

I agree too, Foamgnome. I think everyone we write here says something about us. But the question remains: why don't we say "I would do it differently" instead of making judgments of someone else? In addition to revealing our own insecurities, our questions reveal a lot about the culture we live in and the pressures we are susceptible to.

You said it well -- raising a good question without attacking anyone (me in this particular case). A good model to follow --

Posted by: leslie4 | December 11, 2007 11:03 AM

Sounds to me like Denise did take the opportunity to spend a lot more time at her kids' school and with them. Why so much judgment? Do we really care that much about how much time other moms spend with their kids? Especially a woman you've never met? I think this kind of judgment says we are insecure about something in ourselves.

Posted by: leslie4 | December 11, 2007 10:07 AM

since when has leslie become so defensive? What's the point of offering a blog if no one is supposed to make any comments other than, "You go, girl"? Stop chastising the commenters, particularly after a day with fewer than 100 comments.

Posted by: gcoward | December 11, 2007 11:03 AM

Hey, I think I'm actually pretty thick-skinned and open-minded about dissent and different opinions. (Most days, at least.)

It just seems to be such a knee-jerk reaction -- hey, let's criticize the guest blogger or the poster. It's worth asking why we do that and what it says about us.

And lots of comments are an interesting bellwether, certainly. But I find the length and quality of comments important and interesting as well...

Posted by: leslie4 | December 11, 2007 11:12 AM

Leslie, you know that old attage about putting somebody else down so we can feel better about ourselves.

It works!

Posted by: GutlessCoward | December 11, 2007 11:14 AM

I think it's really important to be talking to kids all through a process like this -- in age appropriate ways of course. I've been in a career transition too for the past 18 months, longing to change and working hard to figure out how. My girls are now 10 and 13, and I was very open about why I felt the urge, what I was doing along the way, etc. I figured maybe some of this would come back to them when they're in their 30s or 40s and are trying to get the nerve up to do something perosnally risky.

My kids went through the range of emotions -- constantly asking why why why, wondering if we'd lose our home if I wasn't a partner in a law firm anymore, mourning the loss of a much loved holiday party, etc. It was interesting to hear what cuased them to worry. Having been so open, I am not surprised that they are now sharing in my complete excitement at the new opportunity I'll be following in January.

Posted by: rdaszkiewicz | December 11, 2007 11:20 AM

good one, GC.

Posted by: leslie4 | December 11, 2007 11:25 AM

Think that's true, Rdaszkiewicz. But what about when your kids are not old enough for talking to help much? I returned to FT work when my daughter was two, at the same time we moved from Minneapolis to DC. Looking back, I think the transition to a new city, new daycare, mom working all the time, was incredibly hard on her. She didn't share my excitement because she was too young to understand what was going on. The changes were far easier on my son, who was almost five.

I do agree completely that as kids grow up, they understand a whole lot better. Mostly this is good. But if you are using work to escape a bad relationship or to avoid facing a problem they understand that as well.

A lot of the moms I interviewed for my SAHM-back-to-work research said their kids, mostly 10 and older, were excited about their moms' work. One said essentially, she sacrificed for us, now it's our turn to pay her back. A pretty nice lesson.

Posted by: leslie4 | December 11, 2007 11:29 AM

I wanted my mom to go to work when I was a young teenager because I wanted to wear Levi's to school, but our family didn't have enough money. Instead she dressed me in those super-dorky Sear Toughskins jeans and all the kids made fun of me.

I had no other choice but to hang with the pot-smoking crowd if I wanted to be cool and have any friends.

Posted by: GutlessCoward | December 11, 2007 11:54 AM

Gutless Coward

"I had no other choice but to hang with the pot-smoking crowd if I wanted to be cool and have any friends."


Me too! That "make love, not war" stuff is a b!tch!

Posted by: chittybangbang | December 11, 2007 12:09 PM

Did anyone else notice that Heather Locklear apparently took out the Colorado shooter at the church! or was it Heather Thomas? never could tell those two apart. Now there's a gal with moxie!

Posted by: moxiemom1 | December 11, 2007 12:23 PM

But I find the length and quality of comments important and interesting as well...

Posted by: leslie4 | December 11, 2007 11:12 AM

that quality plan is working out nicely today.

Posted by: gcoward | December 11, 2007 12:34 PM

But see, Leslie, kids learn all sorts of things. That even though mom's not here all the time, she comes back, if not EVERY SINGLE DAY, pretty much as often as that. An important lesson to learn - that mom and dad (typically) are ALWAYS going to be there, even though they may not always there physically.
Other lessons: that you CAN do it. That you are adaptable. That you can trust mom and dad to do the right thing for you (or not...).

My kid was in preschool at 2 and the facility had to have some renovations so they were moved into another building which was less than ideal (putting it mildly). What *I* learned from the experience was that the kids were FINE. It was the parents who were freaking out, really. Another experience from the same school was that even though *I* may not have liked the people in the office - what was MOST important was what was happening in the classroom - i.e., the other kids and the teachers.

Yes, it's tough being a kid - and they typically have a teacher for a full year - and while adults understand communicating differently with different people - kids don't get that and if they don't click with a teacher it can be a rough year. BUT it can also be a learning year, no matter how young (I'm thinking more of elem. kids). It's all relative and how you look at it - what happens in 3rd grade will not affect them the rest of their life (another lesson to learn, actually).

Posted by: atlmom1234 | December 11, 2007 12:37 PM

"that quality plan is working out nicely today."

lol gcoward - with an additional snort and half guffaw.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | December 11, 2007 12:46 PM

"It just seems to be such a knee-jerk reaction -- hey, let's criticize the guest blogger or the poster. It's worth asking why we do that and what it says about us."

I think the reason I personally had a knee-jerk reaction to Denise's blog entry was because I don't see that it was much about balance, but all about how she spent an entire year looking for a job. Kudos to her for finding the perfect position for her. But I have no answer to her question about how to transition back to being a two-income household, because from what she said about her situation I'm not sure what kind of transition there is to have. Or at least I'm not sure what kind of transition there will be for the kids, who have continued to go to school, aftercare, and daycare just as much as they did when she was working.

A year off from the demands of a career is the perfect chance to find balance. To really reflect on your life and where you're going, and to spend time with the important people in your life. And since balance is what this blog is supposed to be about, and since in my opinion Denise missed the perfect chance to find balance by spending more time with her children by keeping her 4 year old out of daycare and her 7 year old out of aftercare, that's why I posted what I did.

Posted by: fake99 | December 11, 2007 12:55 PM

Speaking of holiday newsletters:

"You people are just jealous of my perfect children.

My son graduated from high school in 3 years and is taking what would have been his senior year to build no-odor cow pie huts for indigenous farmers in north Borneo. He also works with PETA to counsel dog owners whose pets struggle with chronic halitosis. Next fall, he starts his full-ride scholarship at Harvard studying pre-med/pre-law. He hopes to one day sue himself for malpractice.

My daughter is captain of her high school's cheerleading, debate and fencing teams. She donates all of her $1,000/hr part-time modeling income to the model camps she has started in the Patagonia region of Argentina where the women are beautiful but don't have the resources to build runways to practice their strut. Before making breakfast at the local homeless shelter, she runs her paper route, and then it's off to school where she's in charge of the morning announcement program. She was accepted to Stanford on scholarship following her sophomore year but received a medical deferral (the natural color of her teeth were too bright and had to be toned down).

Last year, my wife really leveraged her Playboy Bunny and Rhodes Scholar network to raise money for our community's Be Green, Not Mean campaign. In between tutoring professional athletes, she still enjoys fly fishing and selling search algorithms enhancements to Google. [We just got back from Sergey Brin's wedding on Richard Branson's private Necker Island. Go to our family's website www.WeAreBetterThanYou.org to see pics of me dancing with Oprah and Bill Clinton.]

As for me, I'm still running the same ol' $5B company I started in 2004, as well as doing Brad Pitt impersonations for the United Way ($1.2M raised this year so far). My wife and I started this new exercise program in May and we're both under 10% body fat. We make torrid and zesty love five nights a week . . . our flame is still white hot.

Well, that's it for now. Hope all of you can make our 25th wedding anniversary party. We look forward to flying all of you on our custom 737 to an exotic locale (it's a surprise!).

I'm sure your 2007 was much more fulfilling than ours."

Comment by Jealousy will get you nowhere - December 11, 2007 at 12:47 pm

From The WSJ's Juggle Blog

Posted by: chittybangbang | December 11, 2007 12:59 PM

That's funny chitty, however, I must admit that I love the newsletters. Most aren't like the example posted and I truly like hearing about people's vactions and successes. I also look forward to the pictures of families, kids and celebrations. Makes me feel happy. I'm probably in the minority here tho.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | December 11, 2007 1:28 PM

moxiemom1

"Most aren't like the example posted and I truly like hearing about people's vactions and successes."

The success stories tend to taper off when hubby gets a mistress and/or comes out of the closet, Junior gets a DUI, and Muffy gets an unplanned pregnancy...

Posted by: chittybangbang | December 11, 2007 1:31 PM

I actually love newsletters but rarely get them. Most people just send a photo card or a regular card signed love, The Smiths. I actually would love if people wrote their first names. Sometimes, you don't even know (or remember) the names of all the children.
Chitty- Our newsletter sounds more like this. DD still goes to special education preschool. Although she speaks in full sentences and has non stop conversations about strawberry shortcake to her imaginary friends, she is still in diapers. DH and I still have the same old jobs. Nothing new or interesting to report there. Family summer vacation involved driving our 99 Mazda protege 3 hours south to Williamsburg. Highlight of the trip for DD was the dirt pile at the foundry, the jail cell, and the many pebbles on the walk! Trust me most people do not live such fun or exciting lives as your example.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 11, 2007 1:40 PM

foamy

"On June 17, William finally pooped after 6 long days. We don't know who was more relieved."

WSJ's Juggle

Posted by: chittybangbang | December 11, 2007 1:47 PM

Keeping kids in the loop helps a lot.

Even though DD was only 2 1/2 when I went from SAHM to "working mom." I sat her down and said everyone in the family had jobs.
Mommy had a new job working with books (I am librarian). DD's new job was to be playing every day but not at home and not always with me.

Every transition since then we have always talked. The last one this fall into kindergarten she actually had a couple of questions for me.

We visited the Baltimore acquarium last year but the dolphin show was sold out for the entire day. We will probably be back in 2008.

Posted by: shdd | December 11, 2007 2:07 PM

My extended family has one newsletter writer to rival the WSJ and the rest of the family enjoys it enormously -- we read the best bits out loud and hoot and holler in amusement! We'd miss the annual report on social climbing terribly -- it's a real tradition now.

Posted by: anne.saunders | December 11, 2007 2:12 PM

Where can I get one of those playing jobs that shdd's DD had?

Posted by: moxiemom1 | December 11, 2007 2:14 PM

There was a very funny (I think) Hax write-in about newsletters. Chitty's example is clearly the kind of newsletter this person would write. I can't believe Hax didn't crucify her.

"Christmas Letter (Oh no, is that me?): My husband and I are the kind of people that it would be easy to hate. We're getting PhDs. We travel a decent amount (including to Europe). We run marathons. A cat, no kids.

Nevertheless, I don't want to hide that stuff from people, so I try to make up for it by including embarassing things about us in our Christmas letter. Like how I forgot my running shoes when traveling to an out of state half marathon, or how we had to go to court because we got fined for not mowing our lawn for three weeks last summer.

Now I wonder if my attempts at self-deprecating humor don't prompt even more eye rolling than the straight up facts do on their own. Say it ain't so, please!"

Posted by: atb2 | December 11, 2007 2:15 PM

"And they don't have complex verbal skills to tell you how they feel. It reminds me of when people say 'kids are so resilient' when the parents are going through a bad divorce or there is a death in the family. Sometimes kids appear resilient or adaptable, but there is a lot going on under the surface that doesn't come out for years.

Posted by: leslie4 | December 11, 2007 09:48 AM

I agree. Antonio Caldara (1670-1736) put it into song like this:

"Come raggio di sol, mite e sereno,
Sovra placidi flutti si riposa,
Mentre del mare nel profondo seno
Sta la tempesta ascosa,

"Così riso talor gaio e pacato
Di contento, di gioia un labbro infiora,
Mentre nel suo segreto il cor piagato
S'angoscia e si martora."

(As a ray of peaceful sunshine
gleams on the tranquil wave,
while deep in the sea's bosom
the tempest lies hidden:

so it may happen that a smile
of contentment blooms upon the lips,
while the heart is writhing
in secret anguish.
-- translation by Lynn Steele)

Hear Sarah Chadwick sing this at:

www.koober.org/28May06/Prelude%20Come%20raggio%20di%20sol%...0-%20Sarah%20Chadwick.MP3

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | December 11, 2007 2:21 PM

Hi all --
Sorry for the delay in posting my additional thoughts here. A couple of things I want to respond to:

1) believe it or not, it DID take a year of almost full-time searching to find a new job. Some people are surprised by this, but networking is the route to about 75% of management jobs these days and networks take time. Also, I didn't want to land just anywhere. I wanted to find the right job. That takes longer, too.

2) I didn't pull the kids completely out of their routines because of a couple of things: first, they LIKE their routines. My 7-year old begs to go to before-care, even though I've been able to just take him directly to his school. And more than once, I came to take my 4 year old out early only to be told (by him) to come back later.

Second, networking does not follow an 8am-3pm calendar, as one poster suggested. I was meeting people all over the DC/Baltimore/VA area at places and times convenient to them. Having the coverage of the daycare commitment made me much less stressed about being home in time to meet the school bus. Amazing for someone not "working", but I put 20,000 miles on my car this past year.

What I want to stress about what I found this year was that I found professional and personal FRIENDS. If you've ever left a job, you know how few of those work friends stay with you when you leave -- whether it's because it's awkward or inconvenient, I don't know. I now have a great support team in my corner that I can call on for advice, contacts and martinis. That's invaluable to me.

To JEGS with the question about supporting a partner during a career transition: This was a very very stressful decision that involved relationship counseling and some pretty hefty baggage, I cannot lie. It was very important for us to have a "mediator" as we worked through what it meant for me to be the sole provider. There were times, initially, when I would hit the ceiling when he made large impulse purchases without asking permission first -- things I would have been fine with him paying for himself when he was pulling a paycheck. That took some serious self-examination and big deep breaths. But, seeing how happy he was doing something that finally had meaning for him was a true reward. If you've ever seen someone go from miserable in a job to fulfilled, it's a reward unto itself.

And to Chittybangbang, I gotta make sure you're not getting my holiday newsletter!

Posted by: daranoffbrown | December 11, 2007 2:34 PM

have to say, nothing was better today than hearing denise's reply. her reasons sound really sound and sane to me. far better than any of my speculations. goes to show you just cannot judge or make assumptions about others...just worry about your own life.

Posted by: leslie4 | December 11, 2007 3:04 PM

So if we're to just worry about our own lives Leslie, why even have a blog in the first place? Why not just have a column where you write three days a week, Brian writes one day a week, and you have a guest writer once a week, with no opportunity for discussion? If you and your guest bloggers are going to just offer stories of your lives without asking questions that promote real discussion, and just expect "way to go! You rock!!" from the responses, you may as well just go the column route rather than the blog route.


Posted by: fake99 | December 11, 2007 3:39 PM

have to say, nothing was better today than hearing denise's reply. her reasons sound really sound and sane to me. far better than any of my speculations. goes to show you just cannot judge or make assumptions about others...just worry about your own life.

Posted by: leslie4 | December 11, 2007 03:04 PM

Is the real Leslie locked in a closet somewhere because this person submitting comments under Leslie's name is humorless, condescending and full of herself. There is nothing to discuss if we're all supposed to be non-thinking Stepford Women and tow the party line.

This is yet another guest blog from a filthy-rich woman obsessed with finding her own true happiness. No balance there. No sale.

Posted by: gcoward | December 11, 2007 3:45 PM

Isn't Leslie just suggesting that we use the discussion to ask questions and to provide different perspectives without having to define who's right and who's wrong? I think that happens enough on the politics and religion blogs, eh?

Posted by: daranoffbrown | December 11, 2007 3:48 PM

"There is nothing to discuss if we're all supposed to be non-thinking Stepford Women and tow the party line."

That should be TOE the party line!

Posted by: chittybangbang | December 11, 2007 3:49 PM

"I think that happens enough on the politics and religion blogs, eh?"

Denise, watch that language - we Canucks have that "eh" thing trademarked, you know. :-)

Seriously, though, while I applaud your accomplishments and thought you wrote a good guest blog, the point of a blog and participating in it is that the free exchange of opinions helps us all to learn. Yes, there can be some personal insults that go way over the line, and there have been people who on this blog who've gone far beyond what is decent and proper, but I really don't want to see a blog where we specifically avoid defining "right" and "wrong".

For example - I was impressed by your answer to JEGS about being the sole support for your family, especially your admitting the need for a "mediator" (whether you meant "couples therapist" or something else). However, I looked at your comment about being unhappy about large impulse purchases "without permission" when he wasn't bringing in money - but you would not have questioned it if he WERE making a large amount of money. I can tell you that in my family it's not the case. Since the day we were married, it's all been OUR money. Budgets were set, and "impulse purchases" by one person are fine as long as the amount is in the budget, but they're NOT fine if they're not in the budget, regardless of how much each one makes. I really don't understand any other way of handling finances, but I guess to each his/her own, eh? :-)

(Okay, maybe I'm upset about your implication that he needed your "permission" - that word carries a lot of baggage.)

(And in our marriage, there have been times when my wife's been the sole breadwinner, when I've been the sole breadwinner, and when we've both worked, so we've been through all permutations.)

Posted by: m2j5c2 | December 11, 2007 4:06 PM

"There is nothing to discuss if we're all supposed to be non-thinking Stepford Women [...and men] and toe the party line."

(although maybe there's a better analogy, because I'm not sure what the implications of a "Stepford man" are. Whatever.)

Posted by: m2j5c2 | December 11, 2007 4:08 PM

"what I found this year was that I found professional and personal FRIENDS."

Today's OB Lesson: If you can afford an entire year of blowing off, go to lots of tea parties!

Posted by: GutlessCoward | December 11, 2007 4:16 PM

m2j5c2, I totally agree with you about the baggage with using the "permission" word. That's why I used it and why I did a lot of soul searching about it when this happened. I realized that I was the one putting a new requirement on how we managed our money because of the change in circumstances -- I was putting my husband in the position of having to explain his choices to me, something completely inappropriate.

Posted by: daranoffbrown | December 11, 2007 4:17 PM

Totally OT - does anyone know if the plastic packaging material from toys and stuff is in any way recyclable? There's no recycle logo or number on it. Just wondering as we head into the holidays. I'm assuming that wrapping paper is as recyclable as regular paper. I bet organic gal knows! kthx bye!

Posted by: moxiemom1 | December 11, 2007 4:21 PM

In response to gcoward/GutlessCoward:
Is the implication that people with higher earnings are not allowed to have any emotional or personal doubts or challenges? Or that we can buy our way out of them?

Also, not sure about the tea party thing. When you put yourself out there to network, there is very little gratuitous tea drinking involved. Although I admit to drinking it a few times when I met people at coffee shops, because I don't drink coffee.

Posted by: daranoffbrown | December 11, 2007 4:25 PM

Isn't Leslie just suggesting that we use the discussion to ask questions and to provide different perspectives without having to define who's right and who's wrong? I think that happens enough on the politics and religion blogs, eh?

Posted by: daranoffbrown | December 11, 2007 03:48 PM

Enough for whom? Are you suggesting that how we spend our lives is less important than politics or religion? We are providing different perspectives. What Leslie is suggesting, and you seem to be supporting, is that we all turn our brains and hearts off. Let's be nice. Let's not be like those nasty, thoughtful men who challenge each other. Let's not have any idea more complex than, "Great Blog!" here. As of today, this space reserved for pablum and self-congratulation, only.

Posted by: mn.188 | December 11, 2007 4:39 PM

Denise, I think the idea here is that if you have the resources in the first place (namely money, but family or other support system can work), balance is so much easier to obtain

I do like your idea that achieving your goals is not only about what you know, but who you know. Everybody has the chance to go out and know somebody, provided they have the time.

Posted by: GutlessCoward | December 11, 2007 4:41 PM

yes, m2j5c2 , we are the same - no big purchases until and unless we discuss - even when we both had incomes or not. I think this makes SO much sense - it is all OUR money - one pot. Someone makes an impulsive decision affects the whole household.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | December 11, 2007 4:43 PM

"Is the implication that people with higher earnings are not allowed to have any emotional or personal doubts or challenges?"

Huh? There's now a law on what you may feel or doubt? This reaction seems more than a bit insecure.

I don't know what the other commenters meant. Nonetheless, this column has been a one-note column for the last several weeks. You may or may not read it regularly. The OB blog speaks almost exclusively to the balance concerns of "people with higher earnings", and in fact, Leslie struggles even to make her column offerings open to both genders. In so doing, an opportunity to have a richer, more broad conversation that draws the participation of a diverse readership is lost in favor of a closed-post-Junior League coffee klatch. It is a bit tiresome to routine readers of this blog to always hear about the emotional or personal doubts or challenges of the privileged class, so to speak. This is not a comment on your blog, only that the low number of comments, while not a scientific survey, indicates that it didn't resonate with many people. You feel what you feel, but it may not be the best jumping off point for an interesting discussion.


moxiemom, I defer to organic gal, if she responds, but generally, I don't think those sorts of plastics qualify for recycling, subject of course to your local recycling rules. We can't recycle them in the Triangle, as far as I know.

Posted by: mn.188 | December 11, 2007 4:51 PM

I think Leslie intentionally throws certain comments in to challenge the bloggers and make it more interesting.

Posted by: sharonw | December 11, 2007 4:51 PM

Has anyone gone to the Onion and watched the video: "How the Nation's Wealthy Are Deprived of True Meaning of Christmas"?

Posted by: mn.188 | December 11, 2007 5:03 PM

Denise: Thanks for writing this column. As a 30-something primary breadwinner contemplating a career change I found it extremely useful to "hear" about your experience.

Posted by: cm9887 | December 11, 2007 5:05 PM

Denise:

I echo MN's comments. I don't think anyone here is questioning the sincerity of your blog or implying that if one has money, one does not have the right to have personal problems. But, almost from the beginning, this blog has come under fire by readers for failing to recognize that most do not live in your world, or Leslie's world, where year-long job hunts aided by full-time child care and career coaches can proceed with barely a hiccup to the family checkbook. This is not reality for the vast majority of families, where a job loss could wreak havoc and result in huge debt and/or the loss of a home, not to mention medical care.

What many bloggers here do in an attempt to achieve, dare I say it, Balance, is point out that most/many families don't have this privilege. I've never taken this as criticism, but a much-needed reality-check.

Posted by: vegasmom89109 | December 11, 2007 5:09 PM

" realized that I was the one putting a new requirement on how we managed our money because of the change in circumstances -- I was putting my husband in the position of having to explain his choices to me, something completely inappropriate."

Dennise, as another woman supporting her husband starting his own business, I really appreciate the candid response you gave to these questions. When we married, we adopted the same "our money" philosophy that others have described, and that is still what we work hard to embrace. But I think both of us have at times strayed into feeling differently depending on who was making the money. There were times in our marriage when he was sole provider and I was in school, and now where I am sole provider, and I think we have each felt more or less restrained about how we spend money. It's something that we also have had to pay close attention to and to make sure that we are honest and come back to our commitments to each other, and having a counselor at one point made a huge difference for us as well. My husband's business is now starting to take off and I think we will soon be on our way to a more balanced earning structure, but it can still be a stress-inducing issue for us.

Posted by: LizaBean | December 11, 2007 6:17 PM

I know I'm a day late in getting back here, but I just wanted to say thanks to Denise for addressing my question, and also to the others who posted on here about sharing similar experiences. I wish we could do a whole discussion on balance and families where one person is starting up a business / sole-earner is contemplating career change! I'm just glad to know I'm not the only one in this boat... :)

Posted by: JEGS | December 12, 2007 10:16 AM

Hey JEGS, me too! It's been a pretty crazy ride, and the other people I know who've been in this boat say the same. I suppose the answer we will get is that we should do a guest blog... :)

Posted by: LizaBean | December 12, 2007 2:32 PM

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