The "Feminine Mistake"? Not for the Home Office Lawyering Mom
Leslie Bennetts of Vanity Fair and has written a book entitled The Feminine Mistake; Are We Giving Up Too Much? Well this book has the fur flying between working-outside-the-home moms and non-working stay-at-home moms because it is actually factual, not just someone's opinion. Ms. Bennetts is not talking about the value of one choice over the other as it relates to parenting, although she references studies that suggest there is no difference. She is talking about the long term effects on the woman who makes the choice to leave the working world for marriage and/or to raise children and the professional, financial and health realities that face these women after divorce, death or disability of a spouse/partner, and empty nest syndrome on their self-esteem, health and much more.
Having been a divorce lawyer for 13 years, I can't help but understand the value of reading a book such as this because I saw women who chose the more traditional path of staying at home willingly. Voluntarily they sacrificed their careers to raise children then faced challenges after an unexpected divorce which put them in a financial position they never anticipated.
But this book isn't just about that. This book is about a woman's journey through life, her identity and self-reliance which sometimes (and I emphasize 'sometimes') is knowingly or unknowingly sacrificed on the altar of motherhood, women going into marriage and motherhood with their eyes wide shut, not necessarily understanding the full ramifications of their decision or thinking realistically about their life beyond their children's high school graduation.
This is a complicated hot button issue and my goal is not to take sides because it is truly a personal decision for a woman. It is a decision made based upon a complex set of emotional and financial issues unique to each. I have not read the book but read Ms. Bennetts' reasons for writing it and summaries of the factual information. As in anything pertaining to the human condition there are exceptions and you might very well be one of them but I think young female lawyers who have invested so much into their career and 'want it all' (again, depending upon what 'all' means to you) should read the book.
I firmly believe you can have it all but it is about planning and being smart and being true to yourself, not always willingly surpressing your needs for others . Understanding the variables that can happen in one's life, assessing what is right for you and then working with the information in a way that makes sense for yourself is an important part of the maturation process.
It doesn't have to be a tug of war with yourself, your spouse, your parents, other mothers or society. But it is about understanding yourself. Only you can be an effective general in your own life.
That is why being a solo practitioner or home office lawyer can be an ideal blending for a woman lawyer who wants to integrate these two powerful needs and desires while maintaining their professional and financial independence and enjoying the gift that is parenthood. It is a tough balancing act, no question. But it can be done. (Now, I'm not ignoring those men who make this choice...it's just not the topic of the book!).
Please share your stories about how you may have made the decision to be a solo primarily for these reasons: to maintain your independence and to fulfill your need to be a stay-at-home mom. (And for those who may feel offended I'm passing commentary on moms who work outside their home, I'm not. I'm asking for commentary from those who made this particular choice and their rationale and experiences, both good and bad.)
(And for more information, coincidentally, go to Costco.com which, just in time for Mother's Day, features a whole article on Mompreneurs, Mom, Inc., those who choose to create businesses out of their homes while raising their children, and includes everyone who earns a living while being a stay-at-home Mom. It provides links to valuable community networking sites and inspirational stories.)