Sunday, July 13, 2008

The skills THAT pay the bills.

I have a topic for this post, but first, a couple of random things ...

~ You guys know I'm pretty sarcastic, right? I hope you all didn't think prison was a real possibility I was facing! I was just being a smartass.

~ One of my biggest english pet peeves is the misuse of the word "that". What pisses me off most though is, I am guilty of it ~all~ the time! Basically, "that" is a word which is a filler word. Take a sentence with the word "that" in it and re-read it without saying "that". If it makes sense, your "that" was simply filler.

1) I was given a list of names that matched the one I was looking for. -- If you remove "that", the sentence doesn't make sense so it's okay to be left in.
2) I explained to him that the fish didn't smell good. -- If you remove "that", the sentence would read "I explained to him the fish didn't smell good." See? Filler.

When someone asks me to read something to see if it sounds okay, I usually always find filler "that"s. Sticks out like a sore thumb to me. Yet, I type with it all the time. I rarely proof read my blog. RARELY. But when I do, I'll find filler "that"s everywhere. It's terrible.


Now for my main topic.

My friend Katie left a comment on my other blog (listed in my profile) about daycare. it made me realize the one thing which I envy "young" mothers. The fact they have not yet started, or have barely just begun, their careers.

Staying at home to raise my children was really never even an option to me. Not because of the money (although it would have been the 2nd biggest factor), but because of my career.

If I ever would have chosen to stay at home, it would have been temporary. Just until the kids were all in school - not for their entire 18 years. It would have been to avoid daycare and to watch their little minds and bodies develop in those first 5 years. But after they were in school, I know I would have needed to work.

This means, I would need to re-enter the workforce.

My line of work wouldn't be as easy to re-enter as some others. Just thinking off the top of my head, careers like writer / sales / baker would be easier to re-enter. Sure, they would have to keep up on their skills, but leaving for a few years wouldn't make them obsolete. I am, however, in the world of IT.

In 2004, I was 31 when I had Ella and I had been working in my career for over 6 years. My youngest child will be born in 2009. Once that child enters kindergarten, it will be Fall 2014. I will be 41 years old.

How hard would it be to re-enter the world of IT at 41 years old? I would be competing for jobs with 22 year old college hires. I would receive the salary of a college hire too.

My earning ability would be drastically diminished. From 1998 to 2008, working at the same company, my salary has increased 257%. Two hundred and fifty seven percent. It near tripled. Had I decided to stay at home, I probably would have calculated losing my 1998 income for 10 years. If I were to take apply the increase in equal increments over those 10 years, I would have missed a tad over $220,000 ~more~ of lost income, as this is the amount of the increases only, ~not~ the 10 years of my 1998 income.

I am honestly worried for those women who ~want~ to re-enter their careers who make the decision to stay at home to raise their children. I've read so much on the subject - how hard and sometimes impossible it is to get back to where they were or to even get back in at all. So many of these women end up losing themselves in a way if they are unable to find their way back to their career. The aspect of finding yourself obsolete is even worse for mothers who stay home until their youngest child goes off to college. For me, my youngest will go off to college when I'm 55. Too young to retire yet too old to start a career.

This is just what I was thinking about tonight. The aspect of having part of my identity, mm being a career woman, being taken away from me.

Please don't think I'm wrapping the entire subject of staying at home up with the ability for a mother to have a career once she's "done" being a mother. Many women who choose to stay home have gladly traded in their career woman identity for "mother", plain and simple. The career aspect doesn't have to be filled again because it has been full the entire time. These women are completely content with having their full time career be "Mom". It's just not for me. "Mom" is definitely the most important aspect of my identity, but it's not nearly my only one.

Again, this is ~not~ an anti-stay-at-home post. It's a "can I return to my career after staying at home" post.

I think it's really unfair for those moms who want it both ways. They want to stay at home for awhile ~and~ get back into their careers. Most of our country's businesses are just not set up for it. I guess I don't mean "set up", but more like businesses don't care. Today's business owner should accept women returning to the workforce as an asset, not a liability. Yes, some extra training may be necessary but these returning to work mothers can be a huge benefit.


Jenera said...

I've been a stay at home mom since before having our son. However, I did not have a 'career'. I had just left a credit union I had been working at for a few years mostly due to the many changes in management and the CU stepping away from it's main mission statement. Other than the financial institution/banking/lending work, I had also done retail, casino, and boarding school work.

So for me, missing out on a career was not a worry for me.

But now, I'm trying to make it as a photographer. It's very slow going but it allows me to stay home with my son and soon to be baby. It's something that I can do while they are young, when they go to school, and when they are grown.

I always knew that the work I did from the time I was 16-23 was not my life calling. I was using those jobs to gain experience and knowledge to run my own business.

I can definitely understand though where you are coming from.

Topcat said...

I really hope you didn't feel the need to defend your decision to be a working mum. Seems you've been vilified here lately, which isn't fair.

I'm lucky enough to be able to work wherever I have my laptop. Which, right now, is at the kitchen table at 7.30pm.

IT, huh? I always wanted to know what you did for a crust!


The Captain's Wife said...

I totally agree with you..there are certain careers that are easier to fall out of and back in several years later.

I also am in IT. I have worked for the same company for almost 12 years and my 1st will be born when I am a month shy of 32. I can't imagine giving up my salary (it is what we currently live on), never mind the ever changing technology.

Because my husband's career is easier in and out (fisherman!) he will be a stay at home dad and still be able to fish a couple days a week/weekend since I have the ability to work from home.

HopingDangerously said...

this is a really good point...I don't think I'd ever thought about it in such a way, but I think the dilemma you point out is one that lots of moms who chose to stay home 'until the youngest is in school' isn't thought about too much.

i stay home now, hope to until I feel ready to go back to work (loved my job as a teacher!) which I assume will be around the time my youngest is in school. It could definitely be tricky getting back into my field, esp. regarding salary, etc. For me, I guess I'd say that I'd rather face that than face feeling like I'd missed staying home when I wanted to.

I, like you, totally respect a mother's decision to stay home, work full time, work part time, whatever. It could probably just be left at whatever works best for your family works best.

*I am so scared I have an excess that in this comment.*

Not in the Water said...

Nice post. And I think it makes perfect sense. When I eventually have a child (soon I hope). I don't think I could stay home forever. Money is a big factor, I am the bread winner in the family, but even if our salaries were reversed, we need 2 incomes to pay the bills.

Another factor, like you, is my field. I am medical professional in the education system. While in the education setting, much wouldn't change over a couple years, out in the medical world it's constantly changing. And I work per diem in the medical setting, leaving for 6 months or a year would make it really hard for me to go back. Let alone 5 years.

I know a SAHM who was in the HR dept at her pre-mom life. So she could go back without issue. But her nearby friends that are moms can't afford to stay home and she finds herself BORED! And her DH works til 9 PM a lot, so she is alone most of the time. If that was me I think I would go nuts (I always have 899 things going on at work and outside of's the ADD I think) While she loves being home, I think she craves adult contact.

In my field I could work Part time and make good money, but I would have to leave the school setting....that would mean leaving being state benefits, tenure, pension and the option to retire with full benefits at 55. So I will go back to work when I have a child. as of now, that's my plan. Hopefully we can afford for me to stay home longer than 6 - 8 weeks though :)

I think it's honorable for either choice a mom makes...b/c both are tough in their own way.

seussgirl said...

I admit that I worry about this a bit. I left the field of engineering just months after having obtained my professional license to stay home with the twins. Just after I left, my office upgraded their software to a new version that I've never used. So even now, just 4 months later, I'd already need new training to go back. Fortunately (for now), my company liked me enough to probably be willing to take me back part-time or let me work from home at some point in the near future if they have room for me. That would be just enough to keep my foot in the door, and my skills in the present to be able to go back full-time some day if I decide to.
But, for now, I truly enjoy "just" being mom, and wife, and house caretaker. It truly does fulfill me, and I feel blessed to be able to be here at this point in my life.

MrsSpock said...

I've just decided over the weekend not to go back to work as a nurse for even 4 hours a nurse. I hate working in the hospital. I wouldn't do the stay at home thing for 18 years though, I think I'd go kookoo when the days are free with kids in school. The nice thing about nursing is, it's always needed, I'd make the same amount of pay as everyone else on the unit anyway, and though technology might change, basic nursing is the same. It would only require a 12 week refresher course after a long absence.

Anonymous said...

I think if I were in your situation (holy cow at the pay increase, too) and had your same drive, I'd have definitely made the same choice. But I've never pushed myself to find a "career" and always wanted to be a stay at home mom. I'm sure it will end up not being all I've dreamt of, though!

(I seriously just read back to make sure I hadn't used "that". Even if my grammar still sucks! Haha!)

Duck said...

I think there are very few careers that you can leave for 3 years and then come back to them. Most organizations look at the gap in the resume and wonder what happened. BUT in IT, you really can't even take a year off.

My mother was a stay at home mom, my husbands mother worked, when I look at both of our relationships and emotional health, my husband and his family seem to have a much better relationship. Clearly having a stay at home mom does not mean anything to the child theirself, and children can benefit from day care.

jamie said...

i missed out on a lot of schooling that i could have done which translates to your pay theory as well and omg your belly pic is awesome!

Kaci said...

Very interesting post. You know I recently struggled with losing my wonderful, cushy, part-time work from home job (in IT). Now that I've been doing the SAHM thing for a few months, they couldn't pay me enough to go back, even though there are occasional days I wish I was working. ;)

Before kids, I did consulting work and LOVED it, but I knew consulting, with its constant travel, was not for ~me~ once I had children. The company worked with me and created a new position for me, which I did PT. To me it was the best of both worlds. I was keeping my skills current but had more time with the kids than if I was working FT. Now that I've gotten away from the company, I have decided to look into other career options for when I return to the working world, hopefully after baby #3 starts school. Once I figure out what I want to do with my second career, I'll get the training I need by the time baby starts school.

I missed out commenting on your posts below but it really irks me that people can't understand *every* situation and person is different, and no mom should be judged for choosing to work, or choosing to stay home.

Meredith said...

You do make a good point about not being in the same position if you stayed home. I used to teach, but I also knew that I would never go back to that. If I did go back I would have to be relicensed, but I don't think it would be too hard for me to get a job. I would get the same pay I got when I left as well. So that fact never even crossed my mind.

However like I said I don't plan on gong back to teaching so its a non-issue. I will probably sub or be an aide in the school part time so I can also be a parent helper in my kids classrooms and stuff.

Katherine said...

I am very lucky to be a teacher--high school English--so I can reenter the workforce with no problem when my kids start school. It's not like anything is going to change much; I mean, grammar stays essentailly the same, and so does Shakespeare. However, I haven't stopped thinking about work since I've been s SAHM. I have, in fact, just finished my grad degree in education so I can go back into a more administrative role when I choose to (and make a little more money). I, too, waited until my thirties to start procreating, and I TOTALLY understand where you're coming from. Had I been in more high-tech field, I would have really struggled with leaving the workforce. As it was in my case, however, there was really no question. I didn't make enough to worry about in the first place, and I knew I could go back any time.

KimboSue said...

Being in the IT arena myself, I can definitely agree that you would have taken a huge pay cut if you had left to stay home, and quite impossible (especially at 41) to return to the daily-changing IT world!

Carrie Ann said...

Interesting post. I left my career as manager of competitive intelligence/market research when I became pregnant with my son 4 years ago. The plan is that I'm going to go back when our second child (who I am currently pregnant with) is in school.

I know I am behind in computer/database programs and general research resources and practices so I am planning on taking some financial & business classes before I go back as refreshers.

I know I am screwed though and will not be able to ask for my six figure salary right from the get-go. I know I will have to take a lower level job and work my way up again. I am kind of scared to be honest.

I admire you for being a full-time employee and mother of 3 (to be). You are doing it all!

Michelle(haydensmama) said...

I'm a sahm and when Hayden was 10mths old, I started looking a job...Now I didn't have a career or anything, but when looking for a job, nobody wanted to hire me because I had not worked in a little over a year! It was crazy! I did end up finding a job though! But I see where you are coming from! I'm not sure some people think of that...I know I sure didn't!

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you won't post this, but sometimes money isn't the most important thing. If you're already doing okay, I won't sacrafice time with my kids just to have more money. We aren't promised another second on this planet. If I die tomorrow, it's not the $220,000 that I made that will matter. It's those special days with my kids. Knowing I spent EVERY moment that I could making them happy.

But to some, money always wins out. Poor kids.


nancy said...

Deborah, You are totally welcomed to your differing opinion, I don't see why you wouldn't think I'd post it. Maybe it's because of the tone you are commenting with. The fact you immediately went to "poor kids" and making the assumption working moms are choosing money over their children. But let me respond to your comment.

I think you are assuming I am saying money is more important than my children. When I said it was the 2nd biggest factor, I meant it that we could ~not~ survive with only my husband's salary, so besides the fact I didn't want to stay at home, we couldn't afford to stay at home. We would not be able to pay for diapers, food, mortgage and a car payment on my husband's salary. So I work.

You say "I won't sacrafice time with my kids just to have more money." but I am saying I have to sacrifice 6 hours a day (split schedule) to be able to afford a roof over the heads of my children.

So to say "poor kids" to me, here is what you are saying "poor kids" to:

~ My kids not having to stand in line at the welfare office all day because I need assistance and food stamps.

~ My kids being able to go on vacation. Not a necessity, no, but what a freaking bonus, eh? My kids still talk about the great vacation in Mexico we took last year!

~ My kids not having to stay in their rooms while mommy and daddy fight and stress over how we're going to keep from getting evicted.

I could go on, but I'm sure you see my point. If you are lucky enough to have a husband that makes enough money to support you and your child(ren) AND you wanted to stay home - you have the perfect situation. But to say "poor kids" to a family who simply couldn't survive on one income? Hrm.

I have ~a lot~ more I want to say about the fact working moms are good mothers and we do spend wonderful time together, but I specifically said this post was about mothers who want to re-enter the workforce. I don't know why some stay at home moms get so nuts whenever working moms are talked about. In all the debates and drama, I never saw the working mom bashing the stay at home mom. (and believe me, it's not due because there is no ammunition). Maybe it's because some stay at home moms simply don't have more to do. I suggest a hobby maybe?