It didn't seem entirely surprising to me. Of course it's hard to return to work after an extended time out, of course you'll earn less money than if you stayed, and of course you won't be able to just "jump back in" where you left off.
One of the things I heard a lot when I was contemplating quitting my job (and it was a lot of contemplation, 3.5 years' worth) was how irresponsible it is to stop earning my own money.
It's all about one's personal risk tolerance, though. I think it's also about the natural balance between focusing on NOW vs the future. Some people are planners and risk averse, so they are more likely to make decisions now that will ensure fewer bad things happening in the future. For example, keeping a good job now because who knows what might be available a few years from now.
I thought I was in that category. When I learned to drive, I would figure out a plan that involved the least number of lane changes required, because changing lanes seemed more dangerous and terrifying to me. I'm not much of a gambler. I have no desire to skydive, bungee jump or parasail.
I won't lie. I am freaked out about not having my own paycheck. (Though my Etsy shop is doing a good job sustaining my craft supply addiction.) But I am (mostly) zen about The Future.
Maybe I'm being naive or blissfully ignorant about the Bad Things That Could Happen but I don't want to make decision out of fear of what might happen. If the trouble comes, then I'll go back to work full time. I might be penalized for "opting out", but I'm aware of that. My more relaxed days now are worth it *to me*.
The lesson I learned from the NYT article, though, is a HUGE one. I think it's essential for both partners to continually evaluate the arrangement and TALK ABOUT IT. All the freakin' time. Until you're sick of talking about it.
Are we happy where we are? Are expectations unrealistic or uncomfortable? What does the money situation look like now, and in 6 months? Do we want to trade places? What's bothering you right now about this arrangement?
I guess I read the article differently from most - I felt like the key issue with all of the women interviewed was in their marriage, not their decision not to work. It seemed like in some cases, the mom was the default as the stay-home parent, when maybe that wasn't the best choice. In other cases, it seemed like the partnership shifted over time and the new expectations or desires were not explicitly discussed. But I saw that as a communication issue, not "proof" that "opting out" is a bad idea universally.
In addition to my husband, I've known several people, both male and female, who took a year or longer break from working for all sorts of different reasons. I'm heartened by the fact that none of them have had issues finding interesting, well-paying work when they were finally ready to go back. That inspires me to keep working on constructing the life I want right now.
So for now, I'm still waiting for that perfect part-time PM job to come along.
|It takes a while for it all to come together.|