Yesterday, I read this blog post about a mom reflecting on her own experiences “demoting” herself in the workplace, from quitting her high-power job to returning to the workforce in a much diminished capacity.
I, too, have recently made this shift.
I have a serious problem with the idea of “demoting myself” as a concept, however.
I enjoy my career, and I enjoyed my previous job. However, I like to think that we, as humans, all have a finite amount of energy. It was becoming increasingly apparent that my husband and I were both advancing our careers, and that in doing so, we were losing flexibility, energy, and significant time as a family. Something had to give. In sitting down, and looking at the financials, and our careers, it became obvious that the one who had the bounce-back able profession with the most options was me. It wasn’t simply because I’m “the mom” and that “the mom” had to stay home.
I completely freaked out leading up to the change. I have worked at least one job since I was 14 years old. I had been working full time, full steam ahead since my older baby was 12 weeks old. At that time, I was also the primary breadwinner for my family.
Following my second maternity leave, I’m returning to work part time, in a different job. In doing so, I regret previously buying into the idea that by not working-or not working as much- is letting down my fight for gender equality. Or that being dependent on my husband for money makes me “less.” It caused me a lot of unnecessary mental anguish leading up to the actual decision.
Families are interdependent units where members work together for maximum effectiveness. Right now, I am able to use my education to work a flexible job that allows me to stay home when my kids are sick and put them to bed at night. My husband is able to work towards advancing his fairly recent career change that will, in a few years, allow him more flexibility as well.
Devoting most of my time to taking care of my toddler and infant is not a “demotion.” It is an opportunity I am grateful to have. Maybe I’m a closet old school traditionalist, but my family is my number one commitment. My family is in much better balance with me home more.
And I never want to say to my daughters, “spending more time with you was a demotion.”