Wednesday, September 22, 2010

It's Choice, Not Chance

“It’s choice, not chance, that determines your destiny.”
– Jean Nidetch

A few weeks ago I was with a group of career women discussing work/life issues. Almost immediately, one of the ladies said, “I don’t know how to respond when someone asks, ‘How can you leave your children every day and go to work?’”

For the love of Pete! How absurd is that question?

Why must some people make it sound as if us working moms treat our kids like cats? (“I just give them plenty of food and water before I leave the house and they’re fine…they don’t even miss me!”)

Most women work for the same reason that men work…to provide for our families; not because we dislike spending time with our children or because we’re feeding a shoe fetish. In addition to bringing home the bacon, many women work because they are darn good at what they do and enjoy it.

Notice that men never get asked about leaving their children to go to work. Even when they have a garage full of toys and spend every weekend on the golf course, if they hold down a full-time job and get a regular paycheck they are considered a responsible husband and father.

If you are plagued with the question, do NOT respond, “I don’t have a choice.”

If you have enough freedom in your life to read this blog, then you have a choice.

Absolutely and positively you have a choice.

Getting (and staying) married is a choice. Having children is a choice. Where you live is a choice.

If you love your spouse, and the two of you have children, then you need to make some big decisions. (Kind of like choices within your choice.)

  • Where are you going to live? Rent or own or move in with your parents? How about staying in a van down by the river?

  • How are you going provide the basic necessities of life? What about health insurance? What about retirement?

  • Where will your children go to school? What about college? Missions?

  • How will you help your children develop their talents? Do they have special needs?

  • What are your childcare options?

  • What kind of career are you qualified for? Your spouse?

  • Do you have an adequate number of shoes in your closet? (just kidding…needed to lighten up for a second)

  • Do your financial needs/wants require one or two incomes?

  • If your family requires one income, who will work?

  • If your family requires two incomes, how do you coordinate schedules?

  • Are you willing to give up your discretionary time? Discretionary income?

  • Can you stick to a budget? How’s your credit?

  • Who does the cooking? Cleaning? Laundry? Yardwork? Carpool? Parent-teacher conferences? Pediatrician visits?

The choices and decisions go on and on.

Choose wisely.

Choose what is right for you and your family.

Do not compare your situation to others.

Always remember: Each person and each family has unique circumstances.

You do not have the same spouse.

You do not have the same children, with the same ages, and the same needs.

You do not have the same education levels and skills.

You do not have the same opportunities and challenges.

You probably do not even have all of the same goals.

But you DO have a choice. And I recommend that you choose to do what's best for you and ignore anyone who asks you to justify your choices.


Meili said...

I find it so unfortunate that we moms choose to judge each other's choices. I remember the comments when I was pregnant with Calvin and working. I knew that I would most likely choose to quit working and stay home with him when he was born, but hadn't officially announced as much. There were so many well-meaning but misguided comments about staying home vs. continuing to work. We women just need to give each other a break and support each other in this stuff!

P.S. I liked your cat analogy.

Diana W. Windley said...

Well said Meili!

Julie Paulson said...

This comment is so after the fact (like 2 1/2 years late..) but I am SO happy that I found your blog! I have recently decided to go back to work for good and my husband and I are grappling with the repercussions from people at church. We feel at peace with my decision, but struggle with the GUILT that is laid on so thick for 'leaving my children.' (I love the cat analogy by the way!) Thank you for showing me that I'm not alone out here!!

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