I'm Glad I was There for My Kids

Yahoo Contributor Network

Yahoo! News asked working women for their reaction to Anne-Marie Slaughter's column, "Why Women Still Can't Have It All," in this month's Atlantic. Here is one perspective.

COMMENTARY | In her article "Why Women Still Can't Have It All," Anne-Marie Slaughter attends a fancy reception held in New York and hosted by President and Mrs. Obama. While she mingles and sips champagne in her fancy clothes, her 14-year-old son, back home in New Jersey, fails in school and barely speaks to her when she is around him.

Although Slaughter's supportive husband takes care of the children during the weekdays, Slaughter writes, "I was increasingly aware that the feminist beliefs on which I had built my entire career were shifting under my feet." In the end, Slaughter chose to leave her high-level government work primarily to tend to the needs of her two teenage boys.

When I was in my early 20s employed in the travel business, I worked, shopped and partied as much as I wanted. My boyfriend, who later became my husband, and I were DINKS. We had double incomes, no kids and no concerns.

At 29, I gave birth to our first child, and I promptly quit my job. My goal was to be the "happy homemaker," taking care of kids and keeping a house clean enough to get Martha Stewart's approval.

But I wasn't so happy. Although my husband was an equal partner, just taking care of children and nothing else was not fulfilling for me, and it took me awhile to convince myself that I wasn't a bad mom for feeling that way. I worked odd jobs I didn't care about to bring in extra money but to also get out of the house.

When I became a full-time writer, I found something apart from motherhood that I enjoyed. Plus, I could create my own schedule. I could make time to chat with my daughter or watch a movie with my son or take a walk with my husband or make dinner for the family. Many writers I know who say they are on the computer 24/7 don't also have children to raise. Those who do I wonder about. I know what it means to be present with a child and to not be present.

Before my work in travel, I wanted to be a lawyer. But during my second year of law school, I knew the law was not for me. Today, after writing for over 10 years, I realize that what happened to me in law school was a blessing. At 50, as I enter the life of an empty nester, I'm glad there were never long hours or numerous business trips preventing me from being there for my kids.

A man once told me the reason there aren't more women in high-powered positions is because we do it to ourselves. We have children. Harsh, but is it true?

As Slaughter proposes, if we want more women in high-powered positions who can also be available to their children, the present structure must change.

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