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What Worked and Works for Me

It might not be what works for you - and that's OK

by Florinda Pendley Vasquez  |  5304 views  |  2 comments  |        Rate this now! 

I have been a "working mom" - in my case, a mother who simultaneously pursued a full-time career outside the home - for over twenty years. I became a mom, and a working mom, at a relatively young age. The Internet didn't exist when I started, and my son was out of college when Work It, Mom! came on the scene.

There are a number of reasons why I followed this path. Just to name a few:

  • While not strictly necessary for my family's financial support, we would have struggled on only one income. On the other hand, I had a solid career and earning history behind me when my marriage broke up after eighteen years, because I had worked steadily. (Sometimes your life goes in directions you didn't plan.)
  • I was raised with the idea that a college education was supposed to be preparation for a career, and couldn't imagine not following through on that.
  • My first husband's mother had also been a working mom, so he considered it normal and, to some extent, expected. From that perspective, he was encouraging of my working; in fact, he didn't quite understand it when I went through my occasional periods of wanting to take a break from it.
  • I didn't feel that I had the personal resources - or, to be honest, the desire - to focus full-time attention on my child as a youngster, and I felt that after a few years, he wouldn't need me full-time anyway. My job as a parent was to prepare us both for the eventual day when he wouldn't need me all that much, period.

My sister has followed a different path. She was the "single career girl" through her twenties, married in her early thirties, and became a stay-at-home mom at 35, when her first child was born. With two active boys, ages eight and four, she remains a SAHM, and it's a full-time occupation for her; she and her children are involved in so many activities that I think she's busier than I am. She may look for employment again - perhaps part-time, perhaps from home - in another year or two when her kids are both in school all day.

My stepchildren's mother's experience was different still. When she had her first child in her mid-twenties, she and their father agreed that she would be home with the kids, and that he would be the financial support for them all. That marriage ended after twelve years, and her SAHM days ended then too - unemployment wasn't an option. When her ex-husband married me, he became part of a dual-earning, double-juggling couple for the first time.

There's no one "right" way to live a life, and what works at one stage of it might not at another time. Being around others whose choices resemble our own can feel comfortable and validating, and that can reinforce a belief that we're "right" in what we're doing. And as long as we feel that we're doing what we really want to do - or doing what we have to do, because we're responsible people - then that is "right," and with luck, it's making our lives happy. It might not be right for someone else, though, and it's important to understand that.

About the Author

Florinda is a wife, mother, stepmother, blogger, and accountant employed by a Southern California nonprofit agency.

Read more by Florinda Pendley Vasquez

2 comments so far...

  • HecticMom - I understand how conflicted you're probably feeling about your job right now...I would be too. In fact, I'm struggling with something similar.

    Eventually, I think we'll both figure out what works for us, though.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Florinda Pendley Vasquez on 25th March 2008

  • I feel so much like you do. I have worked outside of the home for the 9 years of my daughter's life and 7 years of my son's. We used day care and expensive private schools.

    I've always loved my job, and my kids and felt busy and a little chaotic, but fulfilled. I've worked my way up and currently manage a large number of engineers and enjoy it. Recently, my division is being spun off and combined with another company and I have a new manager. It's not going well. And I'm not at all happy and don't want to stay in my current role and I'm considering leaving my company and doing some work from home - doing consultant work of performance reviews and development from home while my kids are in school.

    Leaving a full time job is terribly scary however. And I've been such a proponent for technical women in my company - now, I'm bailing like all of the other senior technical women. It just feels weird after many years of devoted service to a particular company.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by hecticmom on 25th March 2008