Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Climbing the corporate ladder while juggling a family

I came across a great article in the NY Times Magazine on the Obama's marriage. Click here for the full text. The reporter asked, "...how any couple can have a truly equal partnership when one member is president?

The president deflected but his wife responded, "Clearly Barack’s career decisions are leading us. They’re not mine; that’s obvious. I’m married to the president of the United States. I don’t have another job, and it would be problematic in this role. So that — you can’t even measure that."

The past two moves that our family has made have been for my career. First we moved from Boston to Charlottesville for my MBA program and then to Charlotte to work for BigFinance. I am fortunate that DH is able to work from home and it hasn't limited him from advancing in his career. In some ways I think he is happy to work from home - it's a lot less stress with the morning/evening juggle and there is time to get a couple of things done around the house if needed (defrost meat for dinner, throw in a load of laundry, etc.). In other ways it is harder because he doesn't get out much and probably ends up working longer hours. I also feel a bit guilty because I have to commute to work which cuts out about 2 hours of my day that I could be online doing work. I get home from picking Cameron up at daycare see DH working away and think, "I should really turn on my computer and get back to the grind." But I just check the Blackberry for anything urgent and turn on my 30 Day Shred. Hey, if I'm healthier then BigFinance gets more work out of me, right?

DH and I are pretty equal when it comes to balancing our work and personal life. I probably take up more on the childcare front but he does a lot more around the house (yard work, maintenance). We split cooking, laundry, grocery shopping and outsource cleaning. I do more errands but that's because I like to get out of the house and spend money :-) I know that many couples find themselves more split on personal vs. work juggle. Oftentimes it is the men who get their careers prioritized and women who end up with the bulk of the personal juggle. I'm sure that if we had changes on the career-front (DH gets a big raise but requires more travel, I get a promotion) then things will have to change. DH always jokes that if I can make enough money he'll be a stay at home dad. The only problem? He thinks that means he can golf every day! He claims that Cameron can just hang out in the golf cart. Sure.

The biggest challenge for us in my climb up the corporate ladder has been living away from family and friends. But given the cost of living in Charlotte right now (and the fact that we bought our house in 2007 - ouch!) it is hard for us to see moving back to Boston. How about the rest of you? Have you made sacrifices for your spouses' career or vice versa? Do you think that one partner has to make sacrifices for the other in order to make raising a family work?

By the way, November is NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). I can't commit that I will post every day (oops, already missed November 1st!) but I will try to be more frequent than in recent weeks.


Mommy, Esq. said...

But are you truly climbing the corporate ladder? As in, do you expect to put in constantly crazy hours to prove yourself and get promoted year after year with more responsibilities heaped on? Sleeping 5-6 hours a night to fit it all in? Or are you happy with things as they are? I think you are juggling having two working parents but it is different if you were constantly working and never seeing Cameron. That is something I struggle with (and have decided I don't want) with my career.

LauraC said...

I have made "sacrifices" in my career so we can have a family. I have not made sacrifices in my career for Jon's career.

Jon and I talked about this years ago because we were both on big career track and with kids, there was no way we could both keep up the hours. I wanted to be the one to not travel and not work crazy hours in return for taking on a bigger share of caring for the kids. We came to this decision together that this is what we wanted, so I truly don't see it as a sacrifice. We did not want a life without kids.

Because of Jon's advancement we are the point where I could easily work at home financially but I really enjoy working. I have a great job that is stimulating yet allows me the flexibility to be the parent I want to be. And Jon's been traveling long enough that we have a good system worked out for us. Now that the boys are older, it isn't as difficult to be on my own almost every week.

I don't think I can answer the question on whether one partner has to make sacrifices. To us, we wanted kids just as much as we want careers so we made choices to allow us to achieve both. I may not be on the same fast path I was before kids, but that is okay with me. I have plenty of time to work when my boys are out of the house!

Donna said...

I've made quite a few sacrifices so that I could have children. Picked a job that was child friendly/family friendly and one that would allow me to go through tons and tons of fertility treatments without interruptions (though without any help in the $$ department). But as for career, generally I think that both DH and I are equal and we haven't really been challenged with what we would do if?????

Natalie said...

i think you make a great point about friends and family. therefore, you should move back to boston immediately, problem solved. thanks for asking.