First, a brief note about the previous post and the dialogue in the comments: thank you all for weighing in with largely respectful contributions. I have done some further thinking and have also now received a (very kindly worded) clarifying email and comment from the original guest poster, and I do think that some of what I took from his post was not part of the message he intended.
I don’t think my defensiveness is entirely misplaced; after all, society hasn’t progressed to the point where my choice to work wouldn’t be questioned by some. But that wasn’t really the point of his post, and perhaps I read into it more than was truly there.
I did write a counterpoint (not a ‘rebuttal’, just my own thoughts on why I have stayed in the workforce) and it is likely to run some time in the next couple of weeks; I will (of course!) direct you all over to the PoF site when it is posted.
I would also like to state for the record that:
a) I think choosing to stay home — whether it is when one’s children are young, or when they are older, or if there are no children in the home — is an absolutely respectable and perfectly reasonable choice for many people, regardless of gender. I just think it’s a choice that has to do with what makes that person happy and what kind of days they want to fill their lives with. I do not like when it is a choice that is justified “for the good of the children.” Because unless your children have unique special needs (and yes, that does happen sometimes!), the implied sentiment is that working takes something valuable and perhaps essential away from kids’ upbringing. And I know there are people that believe this, but I just don’t.
I think economics can also come into play as someone is weighing pros/cons. That’s just reality.
b) Women are judged differently than men when they make these kinds of choices. Very few people talk about what is given up when FATHERS work, do they? Flip the genders around in the article, and it probably would have been a lot more surprising of a story (husband leaves fellowship with one year left to stay home with kids!). I wish this weren’t the case.
OKAY! All that said — I hope everyone here can remain peaceful (both to me + each other!) and perhaps it is time to move on a bit.
- We had C’s bday party! It was a lovely affair at the kids’ art museum (Young at Art for the locals) and went well. It was nice to get to know some of the parents of his classmates — we still feel very new to the school social scene.
- WE SAW PARASITE. OMG intense! I liked it, though. Just had to close my eyes towards the end because I am sensitive like that.
- I did zero workouts over the weekend. BAH! Poor planning. I’m not sure if it’s getting over the virus from the week prior, but I just felt like $(*&# all weekend. Hopefully this will be a healthier week.
To be determined! Agggh! I think I will go mine some old weekly meal plan posts from LL now 🙂
Hello! I have been reading your blog for quite some time now along with Laura’s and I enjoy both of them. I have been following the reader comments regarding the article you linked to in your earlier post.
While I agree to all your above points, I would like to add one more. This maybe more relevant to me than probably 90 percent of your readers.
But first, a tiny bit about me. I am a mother to a 11 year old and left work when she was around 4 months due to different circumstances. Cut to now, while I have been working intermittently (freelancer), am also studying in the meantime and plan to start something of my own in the near future.
I come from a developing country where quality of childcare is a HUGE issue. There are many, many women who prefer to stay at home and look after the kid/ kids rather than go out and work. But from what I have seen Of these women who prefer to NOT work at all, their children become something like a pet project for them that has be taken to completion. Maybe, it has something to do with the peculiar mindset of the people of my country or it just is, I don’t know.
Anyway, I just wanted to point out that while women all over the world have the same set of issues, the way we approach them differs from country to country. While I envy the quality of childcare in the US or for that matter, Europe and the UK, I would still like to believe that considering the situation I am in, atleast I am still getting the best of both worlds. 🙂
I am able to care for my child and at the same time pursue something that I love. Anyway, thank you for your thoughts and insights
Also, a belated happy birthday to C!
Happy Birthday C! Whole Foods Cakes are our favorite (Costco are a close second). Griffin is a super serious party planner, and designs his own cakes then talks to the bakers at the Whole Foods cake counter. They are so good at bringing his vision into reality!
Thanks for summarizing those points about the decision to work outside the home. I liked how Emily Oster emphasizes in her book, Crib Sheet, that neither daycare nor staying at home are measurably better for the child – what’s best for the mom is best for the children. I did struggle with my return to work initially but once our son was 10 months, I realized I am a much happier person working outside the home. And a happy mom is good for our son! I also think our son gets way more out of daycare/school than he would being home with me. He’ll turn 2 next week and says his ABCs, counts to 10 in English and Spanish, and knows his colors, among other things. I can say with complete certainty that I would not have been able to teach him all these things – mostly because I wouldn’t have thought he was capable of learning them! In your previous post, someone took issue with you saying G goes to school. But we also say our son goes to school. The first year was definitely daycare, but now I really do think of it as early-early preschool since he’s learning so much and there is a curriculum/schedule/learning objectives/etc. All that is to say that your children can benefit from being cared by solely by you – but they can also really really benefit by being cared for by others!
Glad C’s birthday was fun! That Whole Foods spread looks amazing!!
I didn’t get to sit down and comment but I followed the whole “controversial link” and read Brent’s response this morning. I did agree with your (and many others!) initial assessment. In hindsight, I think maybe it was just not written well (thus why we all felt icky reading it) or maybe it should never have been written by the husband given the past/current social climate. Happy Birthday to C!
I read the original post and the comments and I thought the best point was that in these situations where a mother decides to leave a demanding career to take care of the kids there is a crucial question of: what were her options and what did she feel like her options were? What got a lot of people’s hackles up was the framing by the author that the woman could single mom it for a year or quit her job. That is a stark choice, especially when you have a 7 month old and may not have experience to realize things will change. If women feel like they are choosing between stressful, crushing misery in the workforce and quitting it all, some will choose to quit it all and say that was “the best choice, my personal choice.” Whether correct or not, that was the vibe a lot of readers got from the original post. The point is that should not be the two options a woman faces, or feels like she is facing. We need more support for women inside relationships, from society, and from how employers structure jobs so that women who want to work feel like it is a feasible option.
Thanks for following up on the FIRE post, Sarah.
So respectful in handling it, providing a timely update…and for promoting, encouraging, and supporting an open dialogue on your blog.
I’m looking forward to reading your post on PoF.
Also, it looks like it was a great party.
Thanks for the follow up on the post from Friday. I wanted to comment that I am enjoying your blog, and particularly your expertise around planners. Yes, I say expertise because prior to having children, I guess I must have had a relatively simple life in my ability to keep track of most of my obligations, priorities, commitments, etc in my head. After children arrived, I was too sleep deprived to even realize I wasn’t really keeping up. Now that all 3 of them are in school and sleeping through the night, I have found that keeping up with them and my job requires more. I have tried various planners in the past, mostly homemade, because I felt the need for customization. However, last week I broke down and bought the hobonichi with a beautiful Japanese cover made by a different company. It feels life changing and is beautiful to look at. Thank for the inspiration!
Your take on this article and the follow up are important, I am happy you take these positions because these discussions should happen again and again.
In an other note, these are my personal concerns, but why not go more zerowaste for birthday partys? There are reusable options instead of disposables… I find it sad that happy events create so much waste that will take hundreds years to disappear. If they disappear at all.
It’s a good point. The plates are paper but the silverware not ideal and the Whole Foods containers. I agree it is frustrating that to have convenience, we end up choosing more wasteful and harmful options. I’ll try to keep more in mind going forward. Cannot guarantee zero waste but at least lower.
I think, and maybe this sounds not very sexy, but asking parents to bring plates/reusable bottles and silverware from home is an option. And present it as a zerowaste birthday, or more ecologic birthday. And think it is just a matter of habit. At my son’s school, all events are now zerowaste, reusable dishware/tablecloth/silverware (I volunteer to bring back everything — all goes in dishwasher and the washer, it takes couple minutes and so much trash is avoid). And making the food is zerowaste… but I know about the lack of time! 🙂 It is not easy.
We are having a birthday party next month and I was thinking of asking parents to bring stuff from home too! We’re having the birthda party at a wildlife refuge so I think it will go well with the “theme”.
I have been working with our PTA, who hosts monthly teacher appreciation meals, to encourage teachers to bring dishes to the events. My idea is that those who bring their own cup/mug/bowl/plate and silverware get a ticket and can be entered into a raffle to win a gift card to a restaurant or something.
it’s very difficult to go zero waste, but we try for low-waste. I have helped plan a large event at my elementary school (350+ people) with food and we try to make it zero-waste. Even with compostable plates, silverware, and cups, so much food comes in plastic containers. Luckily our town recycles clamshells, so that helps a lot. We make a conscious effort to choose food that comes in recyclable packaging. I’ve been disappointed with Whole Foods food containers. Aside from the hot bar, which has compostable bowls, the other ready-made family meals all come in plastic.
I loved your comments on the article! I wish that the article had been written by his wife — from her perspective. It was frustrating just to get the husband’s voice on the matter.
She (the wife) is working on a follow up so that is cool!
Stay tuned for my wife’s perspective. I think you’ll enjoy it. Thanks so much for your interest. These are tough discussions and each family’s decision needs to be what’s best for them. We would never want to guilt or shame anyone for whatever their decision is. I’ll send Sarah the link to my wife’s article when it’s live. All the best!!