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Would you do it over again?

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12 years 4 months ago #5500 by nonny22
Thoughts of quitting med school consume me too since the birth of my son. But, I have to think...my husband doesn't have this dilemma. He has no doubts that he can finish med school, be a great dad and a great doctor. So, why is it eating me (and others, I see) up? Is it that I am a perfectionist and a large part of society is telling me that to be the best mom for my boy I have to stay at home? I don't know-I just know that I am very torn about it. It seems like the trend today is for the smartest and most educated women to leave the professional world and remain in the private home. I am looking at daycares right now and everytime I visit one it makes me sad....but if I gave up on my dream I worry that it would sour what is now a wonderful marriage. Plus, I would always wonder how it might have been. Why is it that women seem to be the only ones experiencing this question??

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12 years 4 months ago #5501 by Baby Einstein
You're right about most educated women leaving the workforce. I'm noticing it in my neighborhood: all the SAHMs have at least a Master's degree!

I think it's the fact that moms think they have to do it all when it comes to their children, and that no one can do it better than they. Fathers have no issue whatsoever with being home only an hour or two a day. I think the mommy guilt affects the educated moms even more because they tend to be more perfectionist and striving for the best than the average population, which is why they got a higher education in the first place.

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12 years 4 months ago #5502 by sahmd

Why is it that women seem to be the only ones experiencing this question??

stephanieoliva, that is a very good question. There is a very interesting book called "Unbending Gender" by Joan Williams that talks a lot about that issue. She is a lawyer so it is not really light reading, but it is still fascinating. Her basic viewpoint (and I'm paraphrasing) is that our society is completely set up so that mothers stay at home and fathers go out into the workforce. All the gains that women have made in the last few decades have actually done very little to change people's expectations and the way work and child care are structured. This is largely under people's radar, so women go along happily pursuing a career/profession and then all of a sudden, when they become mothers, they are totally shocked to find out how reality conflicts with how they thought it would be. I was hit hard by this and have been at home for over 5 years now, although I wish I could work. Other mothers go back to work and feel a lot of guilt (which their husbands never feel). And then there are others who have somehow managed to make it all work out...and a lot of them are here on MomMD! :)

Anyway, it is something that we all have to struggle with. There are no easy answers.

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12 years 3 months ago #5503 by hilseb
Great thread. I am 34 and starting MS1 this fall with two kids. I am one of those who can't imagine doing anything else, especially considering that I have experienced the retail world and the corporate world already, and I can't live comfortably off of my husband's salary as a public school teacher.

Hopefully, I will be back in 4 yrs or 10 yrs telling everyone how worth it it all is.

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12 years 3 months ago #5504 by drpurple
sahmd, I'm interested in this "Unbending Gender" book. The premise is something with which I agree. I wonder: does she suggest a solution? Or possibly a way that the individual working mom can approach things to feel less guilt?
My mother was a working mother so I saw the conflict all the time, as well as how it wasn't as strong in my father (though he had it too).

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12 years 3 months ago #5505 by sahmd
drpurple, her goal is to restructure our entire society. :) Home life should be restructured so that caregivers are not marginalized (low or no pay, shafted in divorces, etc.). The workplace should be restructured to value part-time workers and those who need flexibility.

She proposes to achieve this goal by working on different fronts: get feminist organizations to adopt this goal; get women to stop accepting the status quo and realize that it is not fair that we have limited choices; get courts to recognize that marginalization of caregivers (both at work and at home) is equal to discrimination (because caregiving is done almost exclusively by women); and get employers to offer flexibility without unduly punishing the workers who choose it.

The book didn't have a whole lot of practical advice for individual women, except to look at things with this new perspective. Do not just passively feel drawn to being a caregiver. Recognize that a workplace that does not accommodate caregiving responsibilities is short-sighted and is guilty of discrimination. If you do end up compromising your career for the sake of your child, don't just say, "It's okay. It was my choice." Recognize that it was unfair that that was the best choice available to you.

She didn't focus on medicine at all, but it fits right into the theme of the book. Medicine is pretty inflexible in general. The "ideal doctor" and especially the "ideal resident" works 80 hours a week (including many nights away from home), never takes a sick day, never takes time off, and is willing to relocate at each stage in training. It is not family-friendly, to say the least.

Anyway, that is what I got out of the book. I thought it was very enlightening.

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