For me, going to work after my son was only three months old was not a choice, it was a necessity. My boyfriend had been laid off and found work he wasn't necessarily happy with shortly before I gave birth, and we knew a dual income household was the only way to get by. There was so much pressure, so much to do. Bigger apartment, car and health insurance for our son. Every time I turned around something was going up whether it was our rent, utilities or medical expenses. I decided shortly after going back to work something had to change so I quit my job to work as a real estate agent.
The opportunity for money was there, it just required a lot of time, more than I felt comfortable with. I spent my days and sometimes nights hustling around Brooklyn and Manhattan, taking phone calls and e-mails 24/7, working an unpredictable schedule that was often very chaotic. I knew if I kept at it, I could be really good, and the opportunity to work for myself and earn my own money was great. There was just one thing; I felt really sad about not being home enough with my son.
I couldn't help but feel something wasn't right about this scenario. I was lucky enough to have a family member care for him until he was one so I knew he was in great hands. I just knew that I wanted to be the one at home caring for him. I wanted to be able to be there when he woke up in the morning, feed him his dinner and put him to bed at night. I wanted to have days off so that we could spend time together to make up for my days at work. I knew something had to change, so I got a job in the same industry in an administrative role with a set salary, good schedule and benefits.
Do I make as much as much as I would like? No. Am I being challenged, pushed to my limits (in a good way) or working to my full mental capacity? No. But I can say I do have the security of working for a great company, decent benefits and the work-life balance I felt I needed. I will admit, I can do more and want to do more, I just need to work within what my boyfriend and I feel is best for us and our family. We both decided it would be best if he spent more time working and I spent more time at home.
The pressure is there to have it all. Go after what you want in the work place, expect more from our husbands and partners and earn more. Our lives will be more fulfilling and we will set an excellent example for both our daughters and sons. My story is different than Sheryl Sandberg or Marissa Mayer. I wasn't working as an executive with a Fortune 500 company when I became pregnant, I was at the bottom. I’m sure if I were in the position they were in, I’d have more to fight for, more of a reason to keep climbing up and not give up. I won’t call my leaving my commissioned based position as giving up, but I didn't see myself as losing anything by not sticking with it and going back to the world of being an admin either.
I think as much as we support the Sandberg’s or the Mayer’s, we should be supportive of the SAHM or the mom that works her butt off outside of the home without much to show for it. I think this discussion about “leaning in” and having it all is really a discussion about choices, and making the right choices for our families and not giving in to pressure from those on the outside.