My work had a staff retreat recently, during which I overheard a conversation between a few of my supervisors. They were talking about an employee who was out on maternity leave. Before she left they created a new part-time position within her department, and she had expressed an interest in the job. My supervisor said that her comment was “is this your way of saying you want to come back part-time after the baby is born?”, and the woman responded, “no, I want to do both jobs”.
The response to this story was very positive. It was seen that the woman was dedicated to her job and passionate about her chosen career field.
My reaction, in overhearing this conversation, was negative.
I have a negative impression of this woman (who I have never meant), for volunteering to spend additional time away from her newborn baby. I have a negative impression of someone choosing work over family.
I love my work. I spent six years in college, earning two degrees, to be able to do what I do everyday. I am passionate about social work and I want to help people.
I also love my husband. I love my home life. I love my “me” time.
When I am at work, I give 100%. But when my workday has ended, I immediately head home and give 100% to my husband.
So what if I had to chose between work and family? What will I do when we decide to have a baby? Will I give up my career, or will I give up time with my child?
Although I can’t say for certain, since I am not in that situation yet, I plan on choosing family.
But why does my choice being different from another woman’s choice make her choice wrong? Why did I have such a negative reaction to hearing about that woman wanting to take on extra work instead of being with her child?
Her choice wasn’t wrong, it was her choice. She lives her own life, and the choices that she makes are the right ones for her. Just like the choices I make are the right ones for me.
There is not right or wrong answer to the choice of work or family, only different.
But can there be a middle ground? Why is a woman seen as strong, independent and modern if she keeps her career and old-fashioned if she stays home? Why is a woman who goes back to work and put her child in day care seen as a bad mother, and a woman who stays home a good mother?
So lets put aside society’s opinions. Put aside our own personal beliefs. Let each woman make her own choice, and give her the freedom and respect to do so, without judgement.