Career woman vs. Mom... can I be both? Do I want to be?

I’m 25 and what most people would call a career woman. I work in advertising. It’s demanding and sometimes I don’t feel like I can keep up. I want a family some day and I know there’s no way I can continue to do what I do and be a mom. Plus, I don’t want it as much as I did right out of college… although it does help me feel like I’m doing something with my life. Not there’s anything wrong with it, but my mom raised us as a bank teller making an hourly wage, while my dad made a mediocre salary as a store manager. I just wanted better for myself but I’m realizing I’m not necessarily that pound the pavement type of girl… and I don’t even have the family or kids I want yet.

What’s the answer? [name]Do[/name] I start rethinking some things? I’m really just venting here… wanting to see if other people feel the same. I’m not necessarily looking for the right answer. But suggestions are welcome. Thanks!

Babies trump all, in my opinion :slight_smile:

There are many great examples of career moms. There is no one size fits all when it comes to families. I think many women who love their work find a way to do it all. It is not easy though. I think I am hearing you say you do not love what you are doing though you do like being a career woman. My suggestion is see if you can engineer your career into something more satisfying for yourself. When the time is right for kids (you did not mention if this was something in the near or distant future), you can take stock. If you love your career can you maintain it, can you go with reduced hours… Or do you feel like the working thing has run its course and you want to stay home with a house of children - and can you affort it? These types of decisions are not always easy to make far in advance. Alot of your decision may have to do with the kids of support you have with a partner, family…

Warning: testimonial coming up here…
I work full time and have two children and a hands on full time working husband. My parents moved to be close to us and help out a ton so my kids are always with someone thwho loves them and is invested in their future. For me, my career is very fulfilling and I am so glad I have both the career and the family. I have slowed down a bit - a little less ambitious and working fewer hours. I have to come to terms with having less time with my kids - there is guilt and stress involved… I am working on compartmentalizing so that when I am home - I am fully focused on the children and when I am at work I am totaly focused on the tasks at hand.

Bottom line, I have no regrests about my choices, because my kids are well taken care of, I spend quality hours with them every day, I have a fulfilling career and I am giving back to the community through my work. I basically have my dream job and am mid-career so I have more flexibility than I did early on which helps me be able to do both. When I take a step back and look at it, I feel like I have it all. When I am in the midst of it - it feels like a lot of work!


By the tone of your post, I’m assuming that you’re single and not married yet. If that’s the case, then my advice would be to work as hard as you can right now and save up money (just make sure that you’re making time for a dating/social life, because all work and no play isn’t any fun). That way, when you do get married and start having kids, you’ll be financially secure enough so that you can stay at home if you want to. Whether you stay at home with your kids, continue to work full time or just take a few years off while your kids are young before going back to work is a decision that only you and your husband can make. You just have to decide what works best for you as a family.

If you’re feeling burnt out at your present job though, you might want to think about switching companies.

I work in advertising/promotions so I can relate with the stress of the job.

It’s really about self examination. I’ve known my entire life that all I’ve ever wanted to do is be a wife and a mother. I completed step A, and in [name]December[/name], will have moved on to step B. I’ve always hated working. [name]Truly[/name]. Not because I think I’m particularily lazy, but because it’s just never what I wanted to do. I’m beyond thrilled that I have a year of maternity leave coming up VERY soon… it’s exciting!

But, because of our situation, I won’t likely be able to stay at home full-time once the mat leave is up. Or possibly even part time. We just aren’t able to make it work on my husband’s salary alone. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the way it is, and we’ll have to deal with it.

My advice is try and figure out what you want. I agree with a previous poster - if you’re single and able to work a lot now, be smart and do that, and SAVE. That way in the future, when you’re married and have children, you may have the funds necessary to fall back on to allow you to stay at home if you want.

Stellar advice so far. Seriously. I’d like to add a little to it by giving you a bit of my experience so far. My mother worked until I was almost 5 and then decided to quit her career. She worked as a trust officer for well over a decade before I came along. It’s just the way things worked out. I definitely loved having her around and she loved being involved in school. It became her new career you could say.

As for me, I have 2 kids now (almost 3 and 1 1/2) and I am going back to school to start a career. I got my bachelors when I was 20 in something that I love but wasn’t very passionate about pursuing and wasn’t very practical to my other current goals (film). I think I tried to get through school so quickly that I didn’t really think through what career goals I might have and just picked a major I’d have fun with (and I did have fun, I’ll say that much). My now husband and I had been together for a while and engaged for a year when I graduated, so I wasn’t really ready to up and move to [name]California[/name] or New [name]York[/name] to actively pursue a career in film or television. I wanted to start a family and after a couple of years, we did just that.

I’m glad I’ve been home with the kids because they are so young and I don’t feel like I’m missing out on their lives. However, I also find myself wanting to have a career that I love and want to pursue, particularly when they’ll be in school. I also want to be able to help provide more income. I’ve been fortunate in that I can go back to school and pursue nursing like I feel I should have in the first place. I’m hoping that by the time I graduate (again), I’ll feel comfortable being a working mom and taking on the challenges of juggling all sides of my life.

Everybody’s different. Being at home with the kids is a great, but saving money is also great, like pansy suggested. If you do want a career, but perhaps not the one you’re currently in, see if you can switch gears. I’m starting all over, but at least I’m studying something I love and want to pursue this time around. I think that’s the best advice for you in the immediate future. When the time comes for kids, who knows how you’ll feel and you’ll hopefully know what you want to decide. Good luck!

Some moms don’t have the luxury of choosing, they HAVE to have a career to provide for their children. That being said, if you have the option between both don’t feel bad that you choose to work during the day while the kiddos go to day care or something and then you have them when you’re off work. Most parents do that and their kids turn out just fine. No mother should feel forced to stay home and watch the kids, there are perfectly good programs out there for career parents. [name]Just[/name] play it by ear and see how you feel. Life changes so quickly, it’s hard to plan it out :slight_smile:

I agree with the pp’s advice - everyone is different, and what works for one mom make not work for another. It is all about finding the right balance.
I was in advertising also, before getting married and having my two children. I ultimately decided to stay home with them until my daughter went to preschool. Now, I work as a substitute teacher in the local elementary school, which gives me the flexible hours I need to be home when my children get out of school, plus the satisfaction of earning my own paycheck.

I don’t know if this is really any help, but this is coming from a kid’s perspective. My mom has been working since I was young, I’d have rather her be home to get me off the bus, but it was fine for me. My siblings and I never had trouble with two working parents. Sometimes, I think my mom is tired of all the work but it turns out fine.

Good luck! :slight_smile:

Completely get where you’re coming from. I think there’s so much pressure for women that we should be able to do it all and do it all well, that it’s natural to stop and question what it is you REALLY want (be it family, career, or more likely, some combination that makes sense to you) I think some women feel almost embarrassed/guilty to admit that their top goal is to raise a wonderful family, especially when they’ve been racing towards education and career for a huge chunk of their lives, it’s not always easy to redefine what “success” actually means to you and what will actually make you fulfilled in your life.

And my story: After college I took a high-stress PR job that, on paper, was perfect. I thrived on the pressure, I loved feeling like I was good at what I did, to be honest, I was really good at what I did…but after a few years, I did start to get that nagging feeling that this wasn’t it. I was always burned out and upset, I couldn’t turn it off at home…etc. When DH and I moved to a new city, I sort of took it as a chance to start fresh doing freelance PR work and writing. At first, the income was significantly less, but it’s grown significantly over the past two years and I feel so much better that I can’t imagine trading it for a 9-5 (oh who am I kidding, 7-7) job again. Now that we are TTC, I feel even better about this decision because I’ll be able to adjust my work as my family changes.

Such a great topic, and definitely a perennial one on which there can never be too much discussion. More thought and less judgment is great. I am on the other side of having babies – my youngest of three just left for college – and I worked all the way through. BUT I did downshift to working 20 hours a week from home for several years when I had my second and third children, which definitely made it easier to balance. I worked toward being able to do this for several years, transitioning from being a magazine editor in the city to selling our first baby name book, which helped support us along with other freelance work.

I will say that we have had so many great childcare helpers that have really enriched our lives and who are still our friends. So that’s been a plus not a minus.

Also, when my kids were younger and I was struggling to balance everything, an older woman gave me a great piece of advice, which was to keep working so that I would have flexibility and career currency when my kids were teenagers and then when they went off to college. She said I’d want to be able to make more money but also have some flexibility to stay home when the kids were older, that it was hard to anticipate that (it was) but that I’d be glad I did that once my kids got older (I was).

And now that I have my days to myself, I am really happy to have a thriving career to devote my time and energy to, and also one that lets me contribute toward college tuition and help my adult kids get started in life.

I know this seems very far away and there are so many decisions and steps to take at this stage, but having a child is a lifelong process for both you and your child so it does bear lots of long-range thinking and planning.

I am loving the supportive tone of this discussion!

I like what [name]Pam[/name] said about “career currency.” This is truly something to consider. In many careers you significantly alter your trajectory by taking a few years off to be with kids when they are small. You can’t always just jump back in where you left off in a professional career - the field may have advanced in your absence (seriously in fields like neuroscience the landscape changes rapidly) or your license needs to be maintained, or your capacity to network has everything to do with your opportunities.

I don’t know much about what it’s like to have a career or anything, since I’m only a teenager, but my mom is the perfect example of a career woman and mom at the same time. She is a labour and employment lawyer and mediator, so she has tons of work to do and is often working on several different cases at the same time, often for large and successful companies that are used to getting their own way. But the thing is, I never even realized how much a career woman she is until recently, because no matter how much work she had, she would always have time for us. I think that she is a perfect model of how what you are asking is possible. What’s more, if you have a daughter, she will look up to you for being a professional. I know I do, because so many of my friends have stay-home moms and are always asking me how she can work and be a mom at the same time. So yes, I think it is perfectly possible, and can make you set an even better example for your children. Maybe I’m naive and this is just where I live, but people are always asking me: “What does your father do?” And it feels good to say “My PARENTS are lawyers, thanks.” And I’ve never, ever felt deprived of a mom. So I hope this helps!

[name]One[/name] of my main reasons for not wanting kids is that I can’t imagine giving them everything I’d want to with both my husband and I having to work full time. [name]Even[/name] without kids and without a ton of extra expenses we don’t have a ton left over every month. I don’t think I’d consider having children until we were both making more money and felt very steady, and even then I’m not sure that my desire for kids will really grow (at this point it’s almost nil) to something more than my desire to travel and save for the future.

I am definitely at a point where I am trying to figure this part out. I’m 28 & a full-time teller/CSR at a bank. My husband is in the military. We’ve been married for 5 1/2 years and are coming up to TTC. Not just yet, but soon.

I really love my job, and there is a lot of growth opportunity. But with that will come more responsibilities. And it’s not like I could work from home. Maternity leave there is 16 weeks, which is awesome. But it’s not paid, so you use sick time and personal days, etc. I’ve been wondering what to do. I don’t want to “give up” my job and the paycheck, but I also would truly love to be a SAHM until my future children go to school all day. And that’s at least 5 years. Five years is a long time to be away from work, and who knows what positions will be available by then.

The other part is that my husband will be out of the military in just 3 years and afterwards wants to go to college.

I figure this decision is something that we’ll make when the time comes. I don’t want either of us to be short-changed, career-wise or watching our kids grow up.

I too am really happy that the tone of this thread is so supportive of women, regardless of where your life path takes you, and I love the personal stories. I am struggling with the same issue, so this has been very helpful for me too even though I didn’t start the thread. Thank you, berries.

Something the older Duggar daughters said on a recent episode seems to apply well here, especially to unmarried/single women. They said they weren’t sitting at home waiting to get married or waiting for that next step. They understood that they needed to be “content” with their current life and status. I know they are a slightly different situation because none of them want to be “career women” (at least outwardly), but I think the contentment message is a good one. Additionally, I am a big proponent in living your life NOW…not sitting around and wondering what could be or will be. I mean nothing negative by that, I know you are not doing that. I’m just trying to say that it’s important to realize what you have right now is important and you are doing it for a reason. Does that make sense? You can always change your plans, priorities, and desires, but you need to make sure you are living in the present time.

Best of luck with the decision. I’ve said it before, it’s not an easy decision and women are really unique in having to make it (at least compared to men).

It’s really interesting to hear the perspectives of so many women of different ages and situations. Chicamerlin, your comment brought tears to my eyes. Your mom must be so proud of you and it’s so great that you are so publicly proud of her. She must be a great mom, to have raised a daughter like you!

Being only 18, I’m just starting my first real job in a year-off before college. Forget marriage and kids - living on my own is a long way off for me! But wondering “what I’m going to be when I grow up” is a pressure I face every day. I thought I knew what I wanted to do, and I don’t now. But I do know that I don’t want to be the kind of parent my mom was/is. I am not close with her because for most of my childhood, I didn’t know her at all. She’s a lawyer, and she was so high up in her firm that she worked through all of my waking hours. As a toddler and young child, I went to sleep hours before she got home. My dad worked at home, and he’s one of my best friends because I feel like I know him, and he knows me. But finding a flexible job that I love is going to be challenging, especially in this kind of job market! I want my future children to have the same luxuries and opportunities that I’ve been lucky enough to have - and I know that I’m going to have to work for that to happen. But at the same time, I don’t want to miss out on my children’s lives because I’m always gone. My worst fear is that I would be a stranger to them, or that they would grow up feeling like I don’t care enough to spend time with them.

Anxiety’s a bitch, and I guess I need reassurance that things are gonna turn out okay.

My advice is to live for the moment and do the things that you enjoy doing. Have no regrets. I know it’s not that easy, but there is so much pressure put on women to decide who/what they want to be and to fit into some kind of mould - it’s so tiring and somewhat soul destroying. Whatever you do with your life is totally up to you and I find it helps to have some basic underlying principals about how you want to live it. For me it’s: be kind and generous to others, focus on the present and don’t worry about what the future may bring (I could die tomorrow), money and things aren’t important, people are everything, my own happiness matters. As for kids and working, or not working, i think the most important thing is that you feel like you are doing something that matters, whether thats through having a career, staying at home with children, or a combo of the two. You don’t have to give up the things that matter to you just because you have children, but you may find that your priorities change once you’re in that position. Being a mother is an important job too, and once you are one, then it’s THE hardest and most important job there is, but there are many women who successfully juggle a career and being a parent. [name]Just[/name] remember, you’re in a very fortunate position to even have the choice - there are many people out there are just surviving the best they can.