August 5, 2012 at 2:17 pm #35778
Buttoned’s thread got me thinking to something that’s always been in the back of my mind.
For a little background I’m a college student and I’m pre-med. Being a mom is something I’ve wanted for my entire life and being a younger mom (late 20s) is something that has always been really appealing to me. The prospect of trying to balance these two opposite desires (to have a family and a demanding job) is already starting to stress me out…and I don’t even have either yet.
At this point I’m about to start applying to medical schools (and getting myself into even more dept in student loans) but I can’t help but think what happens if I get married in the next few years, have kids and decide I want to stay home with them? I will have wastes thousands of dollars on a degree I never use. Then again, if I don’t pursue my goals, I worry I will regret it, especially if I don’t find a guy or can’t conceive.
When I tried to explain this to my friends, the accused me of going to school for my MRS degree (aka only going to school to find a man), which couldn’t be farther from the truth. I love school and I’m extremely passionate about helping people and becoming a doctor, I just have always imagined being a stay at home mom too. A big part of this comes from the fact that my mom was a stay at home mother. Having her around throughout my childhood was extremely benificial. However, I think she may have felt threatened by working moms and almost brainwashed me into thinking being a working mom means you don’t care about your kids….which I know isn’t true.
I guess the advice/discussion I was hoping for is how practical is it really to balance a demanding job with raising kids. Are there any kids of working moms out there that can reassure me my own mom was way out of line in her views that all kids of working moms resent their parents.
If I was hoping to go into a field with more flexibility about scheduling and hours, I wouldn’t be worried at all. But I’m nervous that the two ways I see my life going are far too opposite to meet a happy middle ground and going to end up unable to properly do both or without either.
Sorry for the rambling. My head is still a million places about thisAugust 5, 2012 at 2:38 pm #35779
I’m going to be blunt.
Not getting an education so that you can support yourself doing something that you like because you MIGHT meet someone that you want to marry and have kids with in 5 years or so is the DUMBEST thing you could possibly do.
Life doesn’t always work out the way we planned. I thought I’d be engaged/married at this point in my life (28) and I was on track for that. But then I reevaluated and realized that it wasn’t the right guy. And now I’m at square one. But you better believe that my law degree and my 6 figure salary make being at square one a whole lot less of a tragedy than it would have been had I just depended on my expectations working out.
Ask any 35 year old divorcee who didn’t really develop her career and now is getting divorce. Ask them what they are going to do to support themselves and their kids, even with alimony and child support. I talked to one last saturday night for a very very long time and she was SO jealous that I could fully support myself, comfortably, and that I didn’t need to rely on anyone else.
If you’re smart and good at it and YOU WANT TO (which you do), go to med school and become a doctor. Don’t pin your dreams on hypothetical hopes of a future family. Loans can be paid back and you’ll always be a doctor, even if you aren’t practicing. You’ll be that much better of a mother, as you can take care of the maladies yourself. There is never a downside to more education other than financial. This is a no-brainer.August 5, 2012 at 3:28 pm #35780
thanks for the advice. Bluntness is exactly what I want. If I don’t go to medical school I would pursue a different career goal. There are a million different things that interest me academically and would make awesome careers. Being a physician is just the one I love most. No matter what I will have a career (hopefully in something I love). I’m just doubting if investing so much time in money into something is the best idea when there are more flexible and more easily attainable careers that also interest me.August 5, 2012 at 3:28 pm #35781
This is a great conversation to have. Well, first of all, if being a mom is a goal in your life, you should create a life to harbor that goal. That’s not to say that doctors could never be parents, but personally, if being a mom was a goal of mine, I wouldn’t choose such a demanding career. That being said, are you going to be a mom whether you meet a man or not? I knew a girl in college who was a test tube baby like that- her mom wanted a child,never met the right guy, and so she had one by herself. I have another friend who is doing this as well. So i guess that is something to think about – is motherhood for you no matter what?
being a working mom is hard. My mom was a working mom after my dad and her divorced, and 6napkin has a huge, huge point. My mom struggled so badly after the divorce, raising me and my sister, getting us to school early so she could go to work, and having to pick us up late and everything… it is a hard life, so i completely agree that you should not give up your career entirely to be a mom. My mom did that, and I’m sure she regrets it.
I worry about this so bad too. Right now i make more money then my boyfriend, but i dont think that he could stay home, and i am such a control freak i dont think i could do daycare… i just dont honestly see how i could have a child at any point. I just dont know how i could make it work, and i think that scares me more then creating a life…August 5, 2012 at 3:39 pm #35782
In that case, i guess i depends on who you are. I was raised with a (sometimes unhealthy) focus on being the best. We were never going to be paralegals, we were going to be lawyers (I wanted to be a judge when i was little). We weren’t going to be nurses; we were going to be doctors. And so forth. And because of that, I don’t think I could be happy knowing that there was no way that I could be the top of my profession — whatever that means. Not to say that i WILL be the top; but that the door isn’t closed. That’s part of what motivates to be good at my job — striving towards excellence. I know all of that sounds a little douchy and fake, but so be it.
(Note: this is NOTHING against those profession, nor should anyone to take it to mean that you can’t achieve excellence at any job. Of course you can. And nurses are just as important as doctors are, in many ways and an excellent nurse is just as valuable as an excellent doctor. But an excellent nurse can’t tell a mediocre doctor what to do. (or whatever). There is a built in hierarchy and I know many nurses who are frustrated when they are better than the doctor at x. I don’t think I could deal with that feeling on a daily basis and having no recourse (like becoming his/her boss, etc.)
And for others, a job is where you are from 9-5, the thing that puts money in the bank and food on the table and life is what happens all other times. If you can be satisfied with that type of mentality, then investing $200,000 + knowing you won’t even get a chance to use it (graduate at 26, move for residency at 27-28) isn’t the most productive use of your time; it would be better to spend those 6-7 years building a career that sets you up for something once you have kids and stay home.August 6, 2012 at 9:15 am #35817
more people need to comment on this!!! i need to hear more regarding this issue!!!!August 6, 2012 at 9:46 am #35821
I think you need to chill a little on how to balance the two when, like you said, you don’t have either yet. You’re still young, and still in school, and that should be your focus right now.
I tend to get overwhelmed by the bigger picture a lot, so it helps to just focus on the little chunks that I can do right now so I don’t start freaking out over things I’m not even in a position to worry about for like 5 years or so. But that’s how I’ve always been – I’m a planner, and a long term planner, so I like to map out how I want my life to go. I just have to make sure I learn to adjust and readjust as life happens, because NOTHING ever goes to plan. But not having a plan prevents me from getting to my ultimate goals, so I like to know what I want and how I can achieve it so I’m better able to actively work towards something I want.
I got my undergraduate degree in business, and in a technical field. About a year after I graduated, and was working full time, I decided to pursue my master’s (also in a technical field) so that my income potential would be higher for longer. It’s not a decision I regret making at all, and has worked out well for me for the past few years in terms of being able to have the kind of lifestyle I want and to provide for my husband and I. Now, my husband is going back to school to get an MBA and we’re in a position to be a single income household so he can do that, and I attribute that to my second degree. This is why I got one.
But once he’s done, I’ve started considering more and more that I want to be a stay at home mom. We’re both 29 and the topic of starting a family comes up more and more and though I always thought I’d want to be a working mom, now that’s it’s a decision closer on my horizon, I’m reconsidering it more.Does this make me feel bad about all the time and money I spent on my degrees? A little bit. But ultimately, I got them because I didn’t know where my life was going to go or the things I would want as I got older, so it helped prepare me for the ability to have the option. I’ll never regret the degrees, because I know they helped me set up the kind of life I wanted and set me on a path to have an option down the road.
Right now, your focus SHOULD be school. This is the time in your life that you should get to be selfish. Go pursue the higher education that you want, that will put you in a career you want to be in. Set yourself up to have options down the road. Maybe you’ll be one of those women who gets married, has a kid, and can’t wait to go back to work (I work with one of them). Maybe you’ll have a kid and decide you want nothing more than to stay at home with them. Neither is wrong. But spending the time now to get your degree and to set up your career puts you on a path to get choose later on. That’s pretty empowering.August 6, 2012 at 10:34 am #35835
As Sheryl Sandberg says, don’t leave before you leave!
Right now, neither a husband nor kids are in the picture for you. You can look forward to there possibly being a point in your life where they are, but it’s way more important to live in the present, challenge yourself, and grow. Make your career something you’d actually want to come back to in the future, not just as a safety net in case of divorce or something.
Are there any mentoring programs or other ways you can get to know female (and male) doctors with families to learn about their career path? Maybe some managed to have kids during medical school (or during a break from it) instead of waiting until they were completely done with their training.
I’ve lately wondered why more grad students didn’t have kids (obviously if they had a partner and were ready for them otherwise) — it seems to make more sense to have them while you’re young and building your career, instead of taking a break when you’re older and then fight to get back into the workforce. I work with a kickass young woman in her late twenties who’s currently on maternity leave with her third child — all while doing her second postdoc in academia. By the time she’s got a tenure track position, her kids will be older and require less sleep deprivation on her part. Meanwhile, her woman peers in their late 30s would be dealing with the stress of infants and tenure at the same time.
Then again, it helps that I live in a country with four months paid maternity leave…but I guess that’s a whole different topic for another forum post.August 6, 2012 at 10:34 am #35836
My mom worked always worked full time when I was growing up, and I have two siblings. Honestly, I didn’t even realize until her retirement party a few years ago (when someone made a speech about how she was a pioneer) how abnormal that would have been in the 80′s. Like now when I think back on it, I can’t remember anyone else’s mom who worked more than part-time when I was growing up. But when I was little, I just assumed that moms working was normal, and that if I ever had kids I would of course do the same because everything seemed to work pretty well. Just shows how much what we grow up with affects our perceptions.
Side note though, my mom worked in marketing, which was a 9-5 kind of thing. She did a couple business trips now and then, but for the most part she had a pretty stable schedule.August 6, 2012 at 11:04 am #35840
Being a woman in academia, it’s a problem I hear a LOT of talk about. I know women who are professors who have kids, and it’s definitely a struggle to balance everything. For instance – my advisor had her (2) kids while she was a grad student (crazy enough) and waited until they were older to pursue faculty positions. The two other women in our department…one waited until she got tenure to have kids, and one didn’t want them. I know the career timeline in medicine is much different, but I think timing is an important factor to consider. Also – it probably depends what kind of medicine you want to get into. Can you build up enough of a career to work at a private practice? That way you could cut down on your patients for the first few years of a kid’s life or something. I’m along the same line of thinking at 6napkin, but, I have always wanted the career and I don’t want the kids, so I can’t fully put myself in your shoes. Katie’s question was a good one as well. Are you planning on having kids no matter what? Or do you just hope you’ll find the right guy to have them with? If it’s the second, then you can’t control that – but you CAN control your career. Just something to think about.August 6, 2012 at 11:22 am #35843
Better to have the career and not use it by choice, than not have it and have nothing to fall back on. I may not be a 35 year old divorcee, but I am a 32 year old divorcee. I have an undergraduate degree, but no set career and therefore had nothing to fall back on when my high school sweetheart who I had known since he was 15 decided he wanted to divorce me. I’m 32 with an almost 8 year old daughter, working at a job I should have had at age 22. I am underemployed and struggling, and would give just about anything for a chance to go back in time and tell my younger self to focus on school/career first and foremost.
On the positive side, I know a gal in the Army who just finished her residency, passed her board certification, all with a 2 year old daughter. Her husband is able to help out a lot, but obviously the demands on her were huge, but she managed and is now able to be gainfully employed and take care of herself and her daughter. Yes, being a working parent is hard, but hopefully you will have a spouse to help you share some of the burden, and your kids will be just fine. My mom was a SAHM, but wasn’t really there for us emotionally, so it’s not like it did me much good having her home when I got done with school. I honestly feel like my daughter is having a better childhood than mine, despite the fact that she has a working single mom. I realize my daughter is fairly young, and who knows how she will feel when she’s a teenager/adult, but right now I know she sure doesn’t resent me. This is the only life she knows and we do just fine, and she’s happy and well-adjusted. Having a working mom isn’t that big of a deal anymore. I encourage all women to be able to support themselves without a husband. You never know what could happen-job loss, death, divorce….look out for yourself and you’ll be okay. And what a great example to set for your children!August 6, 2012 at 11:26 am #35845
briarrose, i think you bring up a great point: being a stay at home mom doesnt mean being a “good” mom. being an attentive, prepared, knowledgable, caring, loving mom will always be being the best mom- working or not.August 6, 2012 at 12:52 pm #35861
I agree with everyone else–your career gives you so many options! My doctor (an OBGYN) does part-time hours at her office and spends the rest of the time at home. This is a possibility in fields like medicine, where it’s not in some other fields.
You’re also assuming that you’re going to love being a stay-at-home mom, and that’s not necessarily true. You might enjoy it and think it’s valuable, but want to get out of the house a few days a week. Until you’re actually at home, with kids, full-time, you can’t be sure how you’re going to react.August 6, 2012 at 12:58 pm #35864
I really grew up with both models, my mother worked outside the home, inside the home, and then when the economy tanked in 2000, she just became a SAHM. (However, In all of those permutations, however, she never did travel much and when she worked at an office it was part-time for a while).
Basically, she found being a working mom when my sister and I were young was a saving grace of her sanity. She loves us, but being around young children all of the time drove her nuts. She really liked leaving us with our babysitters (who were awesome btw) and speaking with adults a few days a week. I’m sure that given the cost of childcare, her hours probably just covered the childcare, but having a sane and happy mom made her a better mom and probably made us happier. Also, I would like to point out that according to my mom I would cry and wail whenever she left for work, she felt guilty, there are, however, no lasting scares on my part.
When we were young kids, like elementary school-aged through middle school, she liked having a flexible work schedule when she worked from home. She could still be home when my sister and I got home from school, but she could also use her brain (she’s also happens to be brilliant btw) on a daily basis.
Finally, she became a SAHM, which should come with a caveat – she was also taking care of my aging grandparents during this period, whose health was failing, so she always needed the option to drop everything and race to the hospital, which was sadly an at least annual occurrence.
(I should also add that my dad has been really lucky to have made enough money to give my mom all of these options).
However, now that my grandparents have sadly passed away and my sister and I have both graduated from college, my poor mom is bored out of her scull. Although she has a couple of good degrees under her belt, at her age and being away from working for so long, plus with my dad still working as he saves up for retirement, she doesn’t really have anything to do exactly, and that’s driving her nuts.
So, take it from a daughter who adores her mother, there are so many options for one’s life as a parents, as long as your kids know that they are loved and cared for, I’m sure that whatever route you choose will be fine.August 6, 2012 at 3:13 pm #35888
I’m currently a PhD student and my boyfriend of four years is also a PhD student, so this is a topic I’ve thought a lot about… but don’t have any answers. We’re in the same discipline, in similar fields, so the chances of us both finding long-term jobs in the same area is VERY small. I think we’re both of the attitude that we’ll live wherever one of us can get a tenure track job and the other will figure something out from there? As I said, I don’t yet have any good answers. The situation is also mroe complicated because I’m American and my bf is Canadian, so when we get married we will need to either apply for a green card for him or for permanent residency for me, but if we’re not sure if we’re going to end up in Canada or in the States, we don’t know yet which to do.
As for having kids in grad school vs when you’re trying to build a career, the thing that makes me hesitant about that is (unsurprisingly) the uncertainty of the whole situation. Will I have health care in two years? Will I be able to find a job? Will I be able to support myself, let alone another human being? It would be a lot easier if my boyfriend wasn’t also in grad school and had a steady job and income, but that isn’t the way it is.
Mackenzie Lee, I would say that for now you need to focus on doing what’s best for you with school and with professional goals in mind. Like others have said, don’t give up what you want for a future with a hypothetical husband you haven’t even met yet.
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