Monday, September 26, 2011

Waving the White Collared Shirt

I remember when this article was written 8 years ago about the so-called "Opt Out Revolution." My master's thesis that I wrote the summer later saught out to shed more light on the topic from college students' perspectives. At the time even though I wasn't yet married, the question was frequently on my mind: "Would I leave the work force when I had little ones?" No. Not me. Or so I thought.

Today I resigned my dream job after being employed there for almost 2 years. It was the first job I got after I finished my PhD and has been the only job I've ever wanted. I still can't imagine doing anything else for pay except this job. Given recent circumstances, however, it is no longer the ideal fit for me that it once was.

My kids need me more than ever and I too want to be a bigger part of their lives. There just simply is no way to do this in my current position. I felt like I was giving it my all at work, which to a certain extent I really enjoyed. Personal satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment of doing a good job are huge benefits for my being employed. Thankfully DH has always been supportive of my educational and professional pursuits, as lofty has they have been and despite the sacrifices he has had to make while I go full speed ahead. But there comes a point when such benefits do not outweigh the costs of being employed, as backwards as that sounds. I have been shouldering a lot of responsibility at work, which I felt was under-appreciated (or at least differently appreciated than they way I want to be appreciated). Raises, future earning power, upward mobility and promotions (even if promised, which they aren't) that an employer can offer for a job well-done really have minimal value to me. So while I got a relatively good raise, it did not compensate (and no amount allowed in the budget ever could compensate) the cost to me and my family of my being employed. I was also expected to take on more responsibility at work. When? How? I most certainly would have to take time and energy away from my family, which I couldn't do and be the mom and wife I want to be.

In the end, I just want to know that I can make a difference. Despite lacking skill, experience, training and patience, I'm fairly confident that I'll be able to make a difference in my family's life while homeschooling. All I need is an "I love you," every once in a while and I'm set! DH sent me a message right after I resigned saying that he was proud of me and my just heart melted.

Tonight I also went to a lecture on this book "Glass Ceilings and 100 - Hours Couples" (I know, perfect timing, right?) and the authors said no mother they interviewed who opted out regretted it (yet). I, as well, doubt I'll regret spending more time with my kids, though I might more frequently need an alcoholic beverage :). When I again decide to  reengage in the work wars, I'm fairly certain that my time out will translate into lower status and earning potential in the long-run, but I'm willing to take those hits and resulting battle wounds. At this point, I surrender and just want peace.

"Do not work for food that perishes but for food that lasts for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, because the God the Father has set his seal on him." John 6:27


  1. Wow, Celina. We're gonna miss you a whole bunch!

  2. Celina- I understand the struggle of balancing everything to make time that just isn't there in a day. Good luck in your new adventures!

  3. I opted out 2 years ago and it was the best choice for our family! Good luck, the transition is kind of exciting but a little scary. You will never regret the extra time with kids, and you will prbably find you have more to give Jon too.

  4. It was good timing for me to read this, Celina. I have been feeling antsy to get back to work lately, feeling like maybe staying at home isn't for me, and just feeling all around stressed and overwhelmed with both options (being at home or going back to work). So I felt encouraged when reading this- thanks. :-) And yes, you will probably feel the need for a glass of wine occasionally, but that's okay. :-D

  5. Nicely written, Celina. I think you are a successful ___________ (professional/teacher/mother/caregiver), no matter where you are - at home or work. I think the most important thing I read here is that you're choosing to do this - and it is your choice and the ability to make that choice, which matter. All the best and let me know if I can help you "import" some of those Singaporean math books (I'm going home for a visit) at the end of the year.