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October 09, 2007


Unfit Mother

Thank you for your insightful comments, Marjorie. It sounds like our situations are very similar. Sometimes I think I just need an attitude adjustment because these children are only going to be small for a relatively short time. I am sure I will be nostalgic in a few years. My husband and I are always discussing the need to increase our life and disability insurance in the event something happens to him. It is hard for me to be dependent on someone financially when the work I do is undervalued and unpaid.


A part of this that particularly resonated with me was about the husband who would have liked to have stayed with the kids--my husband would have loved that, and although we both love(d) our jobs, my salary wasn't in the same ballpark as his; it was a no-brainer for me to stay home. I had no idea how much I'd enjoy being "home" with children, though, so it worked out well.

Something else--the working to cover day care/pre-school--which is pretty much what I'd have been doing. I'm so glad I didn't, though, because it's been a surprise how much I've enjoyed doing things that actually do pay, however little, that I can do from home. I wouldn't have done so many things, even unrelated to the kids, just for myself, if I stayed at work.

And in the last comment, about some women being naive not to consider their futures...the economic implications of leaving work for 20, or even 10, 5 years, are definitely worrisome even for those of us who are not naive. It's definitely a calculated risk--there's a lot of dependence on the one making the money in a partnership like mine, so what would happen if a terrible turn of events changes everything? Hard to think about, but needs to be for a measure of security.


I often lament that I did my masters in ecology instead of an applied science (engineering, medicine) where I could have made more money. To make my school investment worthwhile (for retirement which as I near 40 doesn't seem as far off as it did at 30) I need 20 years in public school teaching and have 5 so far. I don't want to wait too long because I don't want to be one of those teachers who at 67+ is trying to keep up with 15 year olds (although my little stout body kicks their butts when I take them hiking now!!).

I wasn't throwing hash at you BTW (you are brilliant and have more marketable skills than me for sure). I just see it ALL the time at the community college where I teach. Women going back to school in their late 40s or early 50s...trying to scramble to get some kind of retirement nest egg and often it isn't because of divorce or death but just that it is getting harder and harder to get by in America with the rising cost of living (health insurance, expense of raising & educating kids, taking care of adult parents, taking care of adult childen--and often grandkids--etc.).

radical mama

You sound stressed and extremely busy. I hope you can get some peace and quiet soon. It sounds like a break is coming soon, right?

Unfit Mother

The big shocker for me, MT, was how little extra time Ivy being in school affords me. She is out of school at 2:15, hardly a full day and averages two days off per month (holidays, teachers in service days etc. - not including sick days). I think I will wait until all three are in (pre)school to pursue more work. Because the public school system functions more as child care than an education... ?

I also worry about being out of the work force for too long (as you mentioned, 20 years). If something ever happened to G and our family was dependent on me for income, I want to be able to make enough money to do that. I need to continue working enough now that I can be in an "experience" bracket that can guarantee me a livable wage for our family size. I worry about that cricket chirping silence on my resume where "stay at home mom" doesn't quite cut it professionally (although I think it should, ala Momsrising!).


I think it definitely comes down to me to a quality of life issue. My part-time work helps us keep the wolves at bay (student loans, mortgage) and I enjoy the interaction with other adults but I do think it would be difficult to sustain with even one more child and have the quality home life I desire. I worry about saving for my retirement but just try and remember that this time is short and once my baby is in school I can re-enter the world of work full-time if necessary. I read this great article a few years ago that really influenced my attitude towards work. It basically argued that Americans expect their jobs to: pay a lot AND be satisfying, interesting, creative, and stimulating AND help save the world in some way...and that very few people are able to accomplish all 3 with their jobs and it just may mean 'settling' for less than ideal in one of the 'areas.' For myself, I would rather be an environmental educator but settle for a more traditional classroom teaching role to help me prepare for my future. And I think some of it is personality as I don't have the mental energy to live paycheck to paycheck any more.

With all that said, to sling a little hash, (probably being raised in the 1970s!) I do think some women are naive not to consider their futures and the possible economic implications of opting out of work for 20 years...

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