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Rosie to the Rescue: The “Choice” to Work or Not

In case you missed it, here is a recent post from “Rosie to the Rescue”, my blog for Parents Magazine.  Here I discuss the choice to work or not as a parent.  Whether or not, not working is an option for you, it is important to remember the ultimate goal of doing what’s best for your family and feeling good about it.  Don’t miss the rest of the “Rosie to the Rescue” posts, available here.

I met a woman today who was beginning her last day of work. Her son had just turned 11 months old, and she had decided that her job just wasn’t flexible enough for the work-life balance she wanted with her child. So after almost a year of angst, she decided to take the leap and put her successful career on hold.

I know a lot of women, and increasingly more men, who have made this decision, often to their surprise, after going back to work once their babies were born. I thought for a moment about what it would be like to decide not to work any more and to stay home with my three babies.

And that’s when it hit me, surprisingly for the first time!  I realized just how impossible that would be for me and, I imagine, for so many of you. I can just imagine walking into our HQ and into my husband’s office (yes, we work together), sitting on the couch, and saying, “Honey, today is my last day.” Aside from immediately pouring himself a stiff drink, he would also have to find my doppelganger—not an easy feat considering I may be the palest person to have ever walked the planet!

But in all seriousness, our company is still very much at the point where I need to continue working at it, and my kids rely on it for their livelihoods. If I am completely honest with myself, though, the lack of choice made me panic, and, in that moment, I felt more trapped than I have ever before. Until I remembered… I actually enjoy my job and feel so blessed to be able to do what I do. (Not to mention the look of complete panic on my husband’s face when I threw the idea around the office in jest!)

But what about all the men and women who don’t enjoy their jobs and can’t make the choice to stay home for financial or other reasons? I started to feel trapped and panicked for all of them. It is not that either staying at home or working is better; it is simply that we’d all hope to be able to make that choice for ourselves and our families freely and not because of reasons like dollars and cents.

I meet many moms and dads who struggle with this; yet, I am often humbled by the businesses these individuals have started that allow them to work from home, or the ingenious ways they have structured their schedules to try to fit everything in. It is important, though, to know this goes both ways: There are stay-at-home moms who want to go back to work, just as there are working moms who want to stay home. The sad truth is that the choice is just not always there.

While I’m not in the position to choose not to work, it is my goal that all my hard work will mean that my daughter and sons will be able to have the choice to work or not when they get to be parents themselves one day. Working in part for “choice” (because I love what I do) and in part for my children relieves my panic. Being able to make a change for the better and for those that you love is empowering, and so, perhaps for a moment, I’ll stop freaking out!

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