Advice For a New Mom

Lisa Belkin posts a letter from a woman who is planning on either working part-time or quitting all together now that she has a newborn. The woman is surprised at herself for making this decision. Until now, she had been devoted to her work and been even contemptuous of SAHMs. Belkin asks the readers for advice for this woman.

I'm curious what comments she'll receive. My prediction is that nearly all of the commenters will tell the women to do whatever they did. The parents that stayed at home will say it is the best, while the pay-check parents will tell her that paid employment is the best. And all the childless people will be completely clueless.

10 thoughts on “Advice For a New Mom

  1. I’d do it differently if I had it to do over, so you’re wrong on that point. I went back to work full time, after 5 weeks on the first baby and after 3 months on the second (both times determined by the amount of paid leave I received). I’d recommend working *at most* part time and not even that until after the child is 4 or older. And the older mine got, the more I thought they needed me around–not for constant supervision, but to know somebody was available and cared, so that if they were playing at the park and were scared or hurt they could go home to someone who would “fix it.”
    Even teenagers really need an adult around–they don’t have the judgment to refrain on their own behalf but if they’re afraid a parent will find out, that will stop some stuff anyway.
    My son and daughter-in-law are going to college full time and attachment-parenting; they schedule classes so that one of them is always with my grandson, except for once or twice a week when they swap babysitting with a friend whose baby is the same age.
    Of course, I’m not a “professional” with a career, I’m just a legal secretary.

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  2. It makes me feel guilty to even THINK about giving up my job while so many people are seeking employment.
    Does anyone else think that this mindset (which lots of people have) is almost pathologically backwards?
    You have something you don’t want. Someone else wants it very badly, so it would be IMMORAL for you go give it to them. Huh? It’s like when you were a kid, and you wouldn’t eat your dinner, so mom said, “Eat up. There are starving children in Africa!” and you answered, “So give it to them!”
    If you have a job that someone else needs, and that you don’t really want, shouldn’t you feel guilty for NOT quitting?

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  3. “If you have a job that someone else needs, and that you don’t really want, shouldn’t you feel guilty for NOT quitting?”
    I’m Catholic. I think more people should feel guilty. But if everybody felt guilty for keeping a job they didn’t really want, society would collapse. On the plus side, I’m guessing that Comcast would be the first to go under.

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  4. I went back to work full-time three months after each of my girls were born. Of course, as an academic at a teaching-intensive university, that’s a different story than working in an unfulfilling job from 9-5 with a long commute, say.
    Personally, I would never want to have been a stay-at-home mom but I realize that’s just me. I was a daycare kid growing up in the sixties and enjoyed that experience, myself.
    However, I’m always leery of people saying to a prospective SAHM “leave your job, you can always get another.” Given how picky employers can be, unless you have a very in-demand skill-set, is that always the case?

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  5. “However, I’m always leery of people saying to a prospective SAHM “leave your job, you can always get another.” Given how picky employers can be, unless you have a very in-demand skill-set, is that always the case?”
    Setting aside the issue of a break in work history, if you really can’t find an equivalent job if you leave your current job, how secure were you to begin with?

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  6. “And all the childless people will be completely clueless.”
    As a childless person who regularly reads both Motherlode and 11D with interest, I hope that at least some of us are more clued in than you (and, frankly, sometimes Lisa Belkin as well) seem to give us credit for.

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  7. I am still at home, still trying to finish the dissertation, and even though objectively, I recognize it would have been hard to do anything different while at home with three infants/toddlers, I still find myself advising every expectant mother I know to STAY EMPLOYED. The longer you’re not working, the longer you won’t work, has been my experience, and it is (generally speaking) Not Great.
    Or rather, it hasn’t been great for me. I hate the feeling of dependency in particular. And to be honest, I would rather be part of the club that has the women still working than the club of women who never want to work again. That may VERY MUCH reflect the clubs available to me in this location, though.
    Actually, as I’m typing, I’m realizing that, were the question being posed at a baby shower, I’d give some wishy-washy answer about both options being good and then wander away to the snacks table. Really, who can possibly answer this one?

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  8. If I had to do it all over again, I would have chosen a different career. I wouldn’t haven’t wasted all time in grad school before the kids came. I would have had ten years of solid work experience, which would have made it easier to go in and out of the workforce. I would have chosen a field where women weren’t in the minority. I would have moved to a part of the country where homes weren’t so expensive and average commute times weren’t so long. I think if I had been less ambitious, I would actually be better off right now.
    My buddy, Kathy, is an office manager for a radiation office. She works four days a week. Is home to get the kids from after care at 5:10. She has no pressure or work to do at home. She gets 6 weeks of vacation. She can take off whenever the kids get sick. She makes $70,000 per year.

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  9. “If I had to do it all over again, I would have chosen a different career.”
    I’d switch now if I could figure out how to do it without going back to class.

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