Why Quitting for Kids is Not So Bad

Penelope Trunk wrote a great post on why women are not as concerned with “taking time off” to have kids as some people think.

I am not expecting “time off” from anything. Raising kids is a full-time job. I do not agree with everything Penelope Trunk has to say on her blog, but much of it resonates with what I have observed and what I feel to be right.

At least one person online and multiple people off, have expressed sadness/concern that I am not staying to climb the traditional ladder or that getting back into “regular” librarianship will be harder then I realize. I do not want the traditional ladder. I want to build my own. The traditional ladder looks incredibly boring from where I am sitting and I do not have the patience for boring. Scenery aside, I am also smart enough to know that I am not cut out to be a full-time 9-5iver and a full-time Mom. That situation would make for a very unhappy and crazy Jane and an extremely unhappy family.

As to the concerns about getting back in, as Penelope Trunk points out, starting one step below where I left or taking a different kind of job is not such a bad deal. It just means I will have diverse experiences. Having those formative years at home with my kids is more important then the job title I end up with when I retire. You can’t take it with you. Besides, I may end up doing something completely different then what I am doing at this very moment (which is sitting at a reference desk, answering directional and simple reference questions). I dare say that something will likely be much better then telling people where the stapler is located.

–Jane, the corporate ladder, ur doin’ it wrng

13 thoughts on “Why Quitting for Kids is Not So Bad

  • February 7, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    I’m blushing slightly because I just posted about you on my personal blog for friends and family–hope that’s not what you’re reacting to! You don’t probably have a clue who I am but I’m a contemporary, I guess you could say, and I recently had a baby. And it’s hard. It’s so hard to have that balance of job and family, and you are smart to realize it and lucky enough to be able to forge a path of your own. I was grousing a bit on my blog about how 1.) I love my career and don’t want to leave it, but feel tremendous pressure to do so due in part to the lack of academic librarians visibly balancing children with career and 2.) I don’t feel I have the option to quit due to family circumstances. I had hoped when you announced that you were expecting that I would have a colleague going through what I went through and blogging about it, bringing attention to what I’m facing. But that’s not your job, obviously! What you are doing is greater than that–forging your own path is the best way for anyone to achieve that balance. Thanks for being brave enough to do so and to discuss it so openly, and welcome to the constant questioning of your actions that seems to come with motherhood!

  • February 7, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Samantha, I have not seen your post. Would you be willing to share it with us or will you email it to me? mboule at gmail dot com

    I would love to read it.

  • February 7, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    “I do not want the traditional ladder. I want to build my own.”

    Right on! Well said.

  • February 7, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    Well, I think you are making the absolute best decision and I really envy you. Being a mom is the best job in the world. It’s much more rewarding than telling people where the stapler is…

  • February 8, 2008 at 8:07 am


    You need to do what is right for you. I have seen others make the opposite decision, and struggle. I have seen others make a similar decision. I think it is easier to “get back in” than it used to be. Certainly in public librarianship what you are choosing is not an unusual pattern, and I know many school librarians who have chosen the same path.

    I hope that you work to keep the many connections you have made in the profession. That will help you in your re-entry — whenever that may happen. (Hey, you could even choose to have more than one child, I don’t know…but that is a choice that only *YOU* [and Mr. Rochester] can make.)

    I look forward to reading more since you will have more time to think! Working often takes the thinking out of me.

  • February 8, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    I agree with Samantha that, as a mother, you are constantly questioned – although I believe a more accurate term might be *challenged* – about your actions and choices related to motherhood. Each of us does what we can, from staying at home which the child/children, to working for pay part-time, to working for pay full-time, to deciding not to have children at all, to having an only child, to having what others deem to be too many children.

    I fully appreciate your style of starting out with full disclosure about your current choices. This will help prevent you from being put on the defensive about every little choice you do make. The best we can do is develop a thick skin and do what we need to do for the benefit of our children and families.

    RCN, San Francisco Bay Area

  • February 8, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    Michael and RCN,
    It is about choices and, as parents, we have a lot of them. Our decisions are between ourselves, our partner (if we have one), and our kids. Unfortunately, the world always thinks your business IS their business. I am just blessed to have the freedom to choose this path with a supportive partner.

    I like being honest about my choices and I rarely care what people think of them. I just have to choose what is best for my family. Other people can choose based on their own domestic sphere.

  • February 8, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    I blog at http://shines.vox.com/ about my experiences with parenting (mostly grousing at society for being so wrongheaded, so far). Again, it’s mostly just a personal blog.

  • February 8, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    You go girl. The answers come years later.

    Did *I* always make the right choices? No, nor did their mother. But….they still turned out OK. I have three kids whose success and happiness I cherish. #1 is a computer programmer with a great job, working on a masters and recently married his long-time “girlfriend.” #2 is an engineer, and two years out of college has bought a house where he will be living with his girlfriend who is a PhD student in Plant Physiology at Yale (!). He also has a job where they are paying for his masters. #3 will graduate from Boston U in May and is currently interning at WBUR (but, alas, not on Car Talk….yet). They have values. I love them. Their mother loves them. Others love them. They are successful without me. That is what I dreamed for them. They are good people. I simply wish that your child/ren turn out as well. Love you child/ren as best you can!

  • February 13, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    I subscribed to your blog and started a new folder for feeds called “parenting.” 🙂

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  • February 21, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    Good luck ‘Jane’! I can tell you from personal experience that it is not that hard to drop out, come back, make your own ladder etc. Especially not for someone like you. And by that I mean that you seem to be very well-connected and clued in. I have had a very non-traditional library career which has included public, non-profit, corporate and state government jobs. I “dropped out” to start my own business, and dropped back in when I decided I didn’t want to travel a lot. I “dropped out” again when I had my baby last year, and then I dropped back in when my current position was posted. It is part time (4 full days a week) which sounded ideal at the time, but in reality is very very hard. But after 6 months at home, fully intending to stay home for at least year, I was going nuts and was very happy to see this job open up. I love the job and am making it work. It is perhaps a step below where some colleagues at my age are, but I don’t care at this piont. I had to make a choice and be realistic about what I could handle at work and at home. And like you said, the diverse and rich experiences I have had seem to be valued by any employer who has ever interviewed me. I’ve never not been hired! I think you do the best you can and remain true to what you and your family need and things work out.

    I do have to take exception with this statement from an earlier post though:
    “I look forward to reading more since you will have more time to think! Working often takes the thinking out of me.”
    Being a new mother will not give you more time to think. You will be too tired to think. And probably too in love to think about career stuff for quite a while. Babies are super fun and quite high maintenance. 🙂

  • March 4, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    Very, very well said. It’s so refreshing to read something that isn’t the usual whining and complaining about how hard it is to ‘have it all, as a woman and a feminist’ which seems to be all we get in the UK at the moment. I am tired of arguing with it.

    Career is not the be all and end all. There’s more to life than having your name and a big number on a pay slip. Such a shame that so few people recognise it.

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