Children Derail Your Career

I find that some of the most provocative and helpful things are said to me by someone I don’t know at the gym during or after an early morning workout. Today I went to a 6am spin class, which was easy because I’d been up since 4:30 and already was hopped up on coffee. This was my first time at this particular spin class and the subject of children and babies came up at the end of the class. The instructor asked me how old mine are and when I revealed I had a 12 week old at home, the class broke out in spontaneous clapping – both for having a baby and for being there already, it was so nice. Who doesn’t love random applause?

Anyhow, at the end of class, we were bringing our bikes back into the side room and the instructor asked if I was going back to work. I said in a few weeks but who knows for how long. By this time there were two other women in the room – now all three of them are quite a bit older than me. The instructor said what my mom warned me about all along and now seems dauntingly apparent – going back after the second is a lot harder and a lot more complicated.

Another confirmed it and then said she just went back part-time. The third chimed in and said she also went back part-time because it kept her in the game but dramatically changed her career.

The instructor concurred and said she went back part-time and her career totally changed and so she quit…then laughed about how having a third prompted her to want to return full time.

After the day I had yesterday, I can see that.

Anyhow – at this point my mind was spinning because well, it’s been spinning and stressing over the work thing for a few weeks now as my return date (march 16) looms closer and closer. One of the women randomly blurted out
“look, children just derail your career.”

I started to agree when another one just flatly said “But who cares.”

And then they all agreed.

Amen is what I wanted to shout.

Who the f cares.

Cause guess what kittens, I don’t.

It felt like the addition of one child dramatically changed one career in our house (mine) because we both couldn’t possibly keep up at the same pace. Now that we have two, I have no idea and frankly no desire to manage two kids and commuting and a full-time career. Getting one kid out the door to preschool and dragging the baby along and trying to get there on time is hard enough. Hell, getting them both fed in the morning and my husband showered and giving me time to workout and pump is hard enough – doing all that and then going to work – no thanks.

So there you have it, random strangers enlightening me before 7am on a cold tuesday morning. There’s something refreshing about people’s honesty when you’ve had a baby – especially the honesty of strangers. And I find that women with slightly older children are quick to just tell me what they think,  matter-of-factly, with no drama. I absolutely love it because it quells all my anxieties and fears (what happens if I hate being home, how will I ever get back in the game, will I get lonely, will I miss work clothes, what did I go to graduate school for, etc etc).

I will go back to work because I don’t want to be the person who quits on  maternity leave but it’s doubtful I’ll last long.

Stay tuned.

3 Responses to Children Derail Your Career
  1. Asti
    February 25, 2009 | 8:57 pm

    Okay I am pleasantly surprised, that there are no other comments thus far. But I agree, Amen to “But who cares.” I think that is the first time I ever heard a women say that.

  2. DC
    February 26, 2009 | 2:53 am

    Amen is right! So you miss a few years in the rate race? Who cares! Careers are long, winding roads with ups and downs, stops and starts and many opportunities to reinvent your professional self along the way. But the opportunity to be a mommy to two beautiful little girls under the age of 5 will pass you by in a blink of an eye. Enjoy it.

  3. ABP
    March 3, 2009 | 4:33 pm

    I agree – WHO CARES! I agree with DC and you have a solid base to jump back in the rate race if you should choose to do so later…. work will always be there.

    Here is link to a book review that appeared in the WP two weekends ago about “Child Care Today.” I thought it was interesting.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/20/AR2009022003579.html

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