Gen-X moms making different choices - Catholic Courier

Gen-X moms making different choices

This Mother’s Day fewer young women will be making the commute back to their offices come Monday morning. According to a recent Time cover story, the very women destined to have it all — the corner office and a six-figure salary by day, and a cute cuddly baby to tuck in at night — are deciding to let the nanny go and do the mothering themselves.
Like the generation of women before them, Gen-X moms want it all, but not at the same time. "Their behavior," writes Claudia Wallis, author of the Time article, "is not a June Cleaverish embrace of old-fashioned motherhood but a new, nonlinear approach to building a career and an insistence on restoring some kind of sanity."
Young moms today are a bit choosier with how they spend their time. These privileged women holding managerial positions aren’t buying into the lie that it is possible to juggle a 65-hour work week with all the child-enrichment activities expected of moms today and still have enough energy to go to the grocery, cook dinner, ask Dad how his day was and say bedtime prayers at night.
It’s not that these women are jumping off the career ladder into the motherhood abyss, never to return to the "thinking" world. They simply are taking a break from the frenetic pace of today’s corporate environment to enjoy their children while they are young.
A recent study by Reach Advisors found that among households with the highest incomes, 51 percent of Gen X moms are home full time with their children, compared to 33 percent of boomer moms. However, 46 percent of Gen X moms intend to return to work, compared to 34 percent of boomer moms.
I see these statistics every day in my circle of friends.
A prominent international lawyer who worked for the United Nations decides to let her law degree and 10 years of portfolio-building lie dormant so she can be the one to potty-train her 2-year-old daughter. However, she agrees to freelance projects every now and then, and shows up at important conventions in order to maintain the necessary connections for the time when she is able to return to work permanently, either full time or part time.
A financial broker decides not to renew her contract with a prestigious firm in order to devote her day to changing diapers, watching cartoons and creating building-block "towers" with her 1-year-old son. Because she has acquired some good clients for the firm, they offer her a flexible part-time position, which she contemplates.
These decisions certainly aren’t easy. Rarely does a 2-year-old shake his mom’s hand at the end of the day and say: "Nice job today. You’ve done well." Motherhood can be an isolating existence with little affirmation next to winning an important case in court or securing a great investment for a client.
I’m sure plenty of people see these new, highly educated, stay-at-home moms as yet another extension of the Gen X crowd that doesn’t want to work hard and is unable to commit to anything. But if you look closer, you will find that this is a group of sensitive spirits who have their priorities right.
Having seen the devastating results of workaholism and divorce, some privileged Gen X moms are giving up the corner office for a playroom because their children are worth more than a six-figure salary or the next promotion.
Therese J. Borchard is a columnist for Catholic News Service.
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