There is never a “right time” to start a family. My heart does go out to all women on this matter: career vs. baby. There’s a mantra that modern women want to believe: “You can have it all: family and career.” But it’s also a modern rubix cube.
Both Claire and I have worked hard over the past few years to get to where we are in our respective careers. On her side, Claire busted her ass to get her dream job, and loved going to work everyday. She also travels internationally for work, but for now her career has had to go on pause.
We live in Central London, and coming to London (for most) is always a career move (versus a lifestyle choice.) And now that we’ve had a child in London, a lot gets put into perspective: do we stay in the city? Or move to the suburbs? Do we still aim high career wise? Or aim to get jobs that might be less satisfying but give us more free time? While I was mulling this over one day, I saw the cover of The Big Issue, which I thought was very a propos:
I would happily be a stay at home Dad (I’d make a great Swiss Army knife), but then we get into the whole thorny “equal pay” issue (I don’t know why any man would not want his wife to earn more than him if she could – what’s the problem with that?) However in reality – or at least our reality – it’s best financially that I stay at work full time while Claire takes maternity leave and returns to work when she feels ready.
So, maternity leave; how long to take? When to go back to work? Can Claire work part time? This plagues our minds (especially hers, as you might imagine) and forces a lot of discussion. It’s pretty simple: Either you become a full time mum, or you go back to work and get help. When it comes to career advancement, it’s pretty dogmatic for a mother.
The discourse goes back and forth over this tricky matter, and there are options; getting a nanny or using child care (even if it means one of our salaries gets swallowed to pay for it), help from friends and relatives, part time work, etc. Each has a pro (still having a career) and a con (someone else raising your baby), but the bottom line is that until Milo is less dependent (physically) on Claire won’t know how she feels. Her body and mind were re-wired during pregnancy, so no matter what plans we make, it’s ultimately a wait-and-see game.
However, a while ago Claire read this article by the delightfully named Lorraine Candy, editor of Elle magazine: Don’t mention my baby or I’ll weep at my office desk.
Inspiring to be sure. Lorraine seems to have found a balance. And I’m hoping we can find one that suits us as well.