*Note: This post is published today at Mile High Mamas for their feature story on motherhood and the choices we make. Thanks to Mile High Mamas for allowing me to share this and reproduce here, and thanks to my friend Eileen who helped me edit this. Who knew getting it down from 2000 words to 600 something could be so hard?
“Women’s libbers say we can have it all. I do not believe that we can have it all at the same time. Life is give and take. For me, I cannot immerse myself in my career without falling short in other areas. This is not a pessimistic approach or a judgment against those who chose their careers over staying at home. This is my reality and I would not change it for the world.” Amber Johnson, Mile High Mamas
She’s not wrong, but my reality is a bit different and I wouldn’t change it for the world, either. Being a parent is a tough balancing act that takes a lot of work, and this women’s libber believes you can have it all, if that’s what you want.
I am an “older” mommy. I had a professional career when I chose to get married, and even later still, when I chose to have children. Actually, I have two careers; I am an attorney and a JAG for the Reserves. Working now for 17 years in both careers, I have seniority, have moved up the ranks and earned promotions, and I am successful as both a professional and a mother. I am doing what I love and have amazing kids to boot! I have great employers that are flexible, and understand that my family comes first. I can achieve balance. That’s why I didn’t take a break. I did not want to lose the employers I had, and frankly, it’s not easy to jump back into a career like mine.
Another great thing I have is the perfect husband – well, perfect for us, that is. There is no division of labor. We both do it all! Our mutual respect makes our reality work. Our house may not be clean when you surprise us, but we are raising two great kids. They are smart, funny, and support their parents’ choices to work (my husband also had a career when we married and then had children). They see the independence in me, the can-do attitude, and they emulate that. Which is why I often wonder why I am asked to justify why I chose a career after I chose to have kids. My husband is never asked that. For me, I don’t choose either/or. I choose to have it all as long as I am able.
I acknowledge that I can do this because of him. He does way more than his fair share of household chores and shuttling the children around. I am lucky to have an employer who allows flexibility for all its employees in the year 2015- what a concept! We are also lucky that we picked a school that has an excellent schedule for our dual working household. My children have never gone without. I had a longer maternity leave and was able to nurse both kids upwards of a year, and they get to go on some pretty amazing trips at an early age because of my work. I haven’t missed a single field trip, play or gymnastics meet. With 17 years seniority, I have plenty of leave and I take time off when I need. When my parents needed me in 2012, I was able to fly out each time and help them as well!
I hold no judgment against your choice to have a single income family, and we ask for the same in return. I want my kids to succeed in all they do, but I also want that next promotion, and I am not ashamed to admit it. So that’s why I choose it all, not because I want to escape my family (because I don’t), but because I am driven and I love serving my country too! I hope my girls one day say what a great role model they had in me. But mostly, I hope my girls will grow up in an America where no one will ask them, “why do you choose to work,” or “why do you stay at home.” That would be a great reality, indeed.