Summer, SAHM, and the Illusion of Choice

I love that Mongo DB CEO Max Schireson told the world that he quit because of his kids. But as even he acknowledged, he isn’t walking away from everything. He’s just dialing back his work. He wrote, “I choose to spend more time with my family and am confident that I can continue to have an meaningful and rewarding work life while doing so.”

As a run-of-the-mill, college-educated, tech-savvy, but not technical woman with three kids, I don’t have that option. Tomorrow, I return to SAHM status after an 8-month stint working part-time. The company was (is) great, although the job itself gradually required full-time availability or face time.

I am not particularly happy about it. Part of it is that I still hate summer. Part of it also is that I feel like Elephant in the Mo Willems story, We Are in a Book. Replace “book” with “job” and the sentiment is the same:

As I have written previously, work-life balance is an issue among parents in my generation. (I recognize that this may have been an issue for parents in the pre-Internet days, but I do not know such things in the way that I know it affects modern parents. Or maybe just me.) I don’t think it’s unique to women / mothers either, but I’ve yet to meet a full-time SAHD in my travels through Chicago parenting circles.

I feel like I should have figured this out by now. Some of my frustration may be tied to that self-judgment.

I often think of various challenges in my life or work as puzzles. It’s a matter of fitting the correct tab into the right slot, or finding the word that matches the clue and the little boxes. I’m still struggling with finding the piece that fits my desire to contribute something significant to this world, in my skill set, for an organization, on a regular basis, with recompense, without sacrificing my existing relationships (with my children). Put simply:

  • I want to use my writing/communication, analytical, and organizational skills.
  • I want to be home for my children in after-school hours.

This doesn’t seem like it should be so hard to find. And yet, it is. At least in the modern U.S. economy of competition and drive. Politicians in the media often give lip service to the “importance” of raising children, usually as they justify why their wives don’t work. They don’t talk about the minutiae and repetition of parenting, but of the Hallmark moments that allow us all to give lip service to the importance of child care.

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