This article caught my attention this week. It instantly resonated with me, because I actually do believe that my second child “hosed” my career, in a manner of speaking.
Like the author, I say that with a bit of hyperbole, because my career is still intact, as far as I can tell. I was practicing law before my second baby came, and I continue to practice law today, now that she’s 15 months old. It’s just that I do things differently now: after returning to my old law firm job last year following maternity leave, I worked there for about six months, and then left to start my own solo practice. The goal was to become more independent by being my own boss, and to switch to a plaintiff-side practice so that I could continue to work in special education even after the majority of my old firm’s clients in that department had taken their business elsewhere. But there is no denying that I was highly motivated to do this after realizing just how extremely difficult it was to keep being someone’s employee after that second kid came along. Although I was excited to start my new venture, I also felt like I had been forced into it. The daily, urgent, pressing needs of my family had increased astronomically, and consumed me to the point where no amount of flexibility at my old job could accommodate them. I was sick all the time, exhausted, and constantly worried about covering our bills on top of the cost of daycare for two little kids. On top of that, after spending all of my time at home on meeting my kids’ endless demands, it felt tiresome, unfulfilling and ridiculous to spend an ever-increasing amount of time handling work I wasn’t interested in for partners who were primarily interested in their own bottom lines. I needed to work for myself and be in complete control of the clients I represented, the hours I kept, and my ability to own, not loan, my talent.
Flash forward to my second baby now being a young toddler, and my older daughter being potty-trained and enjoying preschool. Could I handle the traditional workplace again? I believe so. And I also believe that my old firm was less than ideal for a mom of young kids, and that I may have fared better in a workplace with a different culture and approach to family-friendly policies. But in the moment, leaving was the right thing to do, regardless of how much time I had spent building my career in a different direction, regardless of the major risks involved in entrepreneurship, and regardless of the fact that I was likely buying my freedom with the price of sleepless nights and fear over what might go wrong.
Looking back now, my second baby may have actually done me a favor. If it weren’t for her, I may have gottentoo comfortable in my old position and failed to take the steps necessary to improve my career by launching my work in a different direction. But it’s undeniable that she made things uncomfortable enough that I absolutely needed to leave. Although things may have been completely different with an easier work environment or a less demanding kid, I believe that for the most part, the second child will indeed hose your career, or at least your job. The question is whether you can accept that fact and feel compelled to make positive changes in your career because of it.