Children vs. Career
Most of my friends stopped having kids at one. That’s right. We basically each had just one child because we found it hard enough to keep up with our career to have another child. But that was not the only reason. There was the cost of raising a child as well. Suddenly you are paying for diapers and baby food and worrying about day care and school fees. Its daunting.
What’s worse is probably that most of us women in the work place eventually end up putting our careers in the back burner. We either pull back in our career ambitions or we settle for mediocre in jobs that are utterly unsatisfying simply because we cannot afford to burn the candle on both ends with a child to take care of.
In a way, even in our society where families may or may not be willing to help out, a full-time working, ambitious career woman is somehow made to feel like she’s a bad mother. We end up with the bad mother title even if we are pushing everything else away in order to make space for the needs of the child in our life. Doesn’t make for easy choices or easy life. We try to be the superwoman who is climbing the career ladder, while successfully discharging the duty of being a cook, cleaner, shopper, primary baby care provider etc. No wonder we are so tired all the time.
A friend of mine is struggling with that choice now. She’s struggling between pursuing a career that will have her on the run or a job that is frankly very mediocre. And I had no advice for her, none except that she needs to make the kind of choice that she can live with.
If there’s one thing that I do not regret – it is that I have put my child and his need above everything else.
If he was sick, I was always home. If he needed me, I moved heaven and hell, to make sure that I was there. If there’s one thing that I have avoided that’s making him choose between me or anything/anyone else. No matter what, as his mother, it is my one committment to him – he will be loved and he will know that he is loved no matter what else goes on in either his life or mine. That I love him unconditionally and will always put him first has been the unwavering committment on which our relationship is based.
It’s the one choice that I have never regretted making.
I could have done a lot more with my career if I wanted. I could have travelled more, taken on more assignments, more risks. But that I chose not to, so I can stay close in his life, is not a choice that I am willing to regret. As he reminded me once in tearful frustration – he did not ask to be born, I bore him, I brought him into this world. And In my mind, I owe it to him and to myself to keep my commitment of total unwavering love.
I couldn’t find the words then to tell my friend how much it would mean to her child if she is back home in time every day. Or how much it would mean to him if she can be there whenever he needs her. That he will remember this, no matter how young he is now. This love lives in our cell memories. Even when the children have grown, their body will remember the love that has been lavished on them. Even when they lash back in frustration, they will do so with the knowledge that they are loved and accepted as they are.
There will alway be more jobs, more exciting career paths. But there will only be this one chance, to make sure that this one child knows that he/she means the world to his/her mother. Everything else can wait. Should wait. Children grow up too fast. Before you know it, they will be embarrassed to be hugged or kissed in front of their friends. Before you know it, their world will fill up with people and things that you understand very little of. Before you know it, they will fly the coop. Before you know it, these days of staying up all night taking care of a sick child or just breathing in his particular smell will be over. Before you know it, you might become obsolete.
So enjoy these days while they last. Treat each day like a new one. See the miracle that exists in these moments. When your priorities are set right, all the other choices will be easy to make.
Meanwhile, don’t let go of your dreams for yourself. Keep that dream alive and keep working towards it. If it suits you, make the leap. If it doesn’t fit into your life now, wait… the time will come soon enough when you can go for it with gusto.
- Career and Family vs. Baby Making Machine (relationshipsstartwithyou.com)
- Is it Selfish to Have One Child? – My kid doesn’t need to have a sibling (babble.com)
- Daycare, Childcare, Babysitters, and Nannies: A guide to childcare | Babble (babble.com)
- What It Costs to Raise a Child (wisebread.com)
- Paul Tudor Jones’ Comment: Moms Don’t Have the Focus for Macro Trading Career (formingthethread.wordpress.com)
- Don’t Put Me In A Box (realgirlramblings.wordpress.com)
- Questions about owning our choices as women (dowhatuluv.wordpress.com)
- 3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Switching Careers (quicken.intuit.com)