There’s a sobering article in last week’s Salon that bears reading by all mothers near and far. Titled “Regrets of a Stay-at-Home Mom,” it depicts the mindset of a recently divorced, partially-employed mother of two who — after being out of the workforce for 14 years — discovers it ain’t so easy getting back into the game when she needs a full-time job.
The author, Katy Read, only partly blames the current economic crisis for her job-hunting woes. Rather, she places most of it on her decision 14 years ago to invest first and foremost in her children (“sliding . . . skating . . . supervising art projects . . . helping them with their homework”) over and above things like securing a retirement fund or a sufficiently well-cushioned savings account.
As she writes: “I did what the experts advised: developed my skills, undertook new challenges, expanded my professional contacts. I advanced creatively if not financially, published essays in respected literary journals that often paid (cue ominous music) in copies of the magazine.” Fast forward 14 years and Read finds that “My income — freelance writing, child support, a couple of menial part-time jobs — doesn’t cover my current expenses, let alone my retirement or the kids’ tuition.”
Her conclusion? Much like Sandra Tsing Loh — who, in a much-hyped article in The Atlantic a few years back urged women not to marry lest they end up, like her, in a workable but loveless “companionate marriage” — Read does the same. She counsels new mothers to forget all that stuff they hear about having “quality time” with their kids. They should go get a job so that they don’t end up broke and bereft like her.
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