Work Women Want: Work at Home or Go Part-Time is a new book by Jennifer Forest that examines the woman’s role – do we leave the kids and climb the ladder, or turn the ladder sideways to accommodate child raising? There is no right way, but Jennifer’s book is full of sensational ideas on how to navigate the path of Motherhood while still pursuing a career. We got numerous ideas from this book, and felt supported knowing Jennifer is out there is in the world, forging a path for working (at home) Moms like us.
Here’s an excerpt from the book, which we strongly recommend you read. Kids or not, it’s a brilliant narrative on bucking the traditional work model and finding a way to make money doing what you love.
Why This? Why Now?
My office is quiet. The only noise is the sound of my fingers typing and the snuffling of my small dog from his bed in the corner. The home telephone rings and disturbs me. I know this is not a business call; wrong phone. I need to work; I don’t have that much time to work. I try not to be grumpy when I answer the phone.
“You’ve been working from home,” says my long-term friend, Zoe. “Tell me how to do it. I don’t get to see my daughter enough. I am always at work. I need to do something else.”
I hesitate. It is not long until pick-up time from kindergarten for my own daughter. I am on a deadline. I don’t really know the answer. Should I tell Zoe the truth?
The truth is that if it wasn’t for my husband, I would have returned to work years ago. My daughter would have gone to childcare from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. We made the choice for me to work from home. I could care for our daughter and also pursue new challenges. The truth is that we sacrificed my income for time.
Should I tell Zoe that it is a lot harder than it looks? I may look like a peaceful duck paddling happily around the lake (or at least hope I do!) but underneath is a mass of whirling feet desperately trying to do it all from one laptop in a small quiet office, with a little dog for company.
To be fair, though, I could also tell her about the real joy I get from creating my own income. I feel a great sense of satisfaction earning my money this way. It is so much better than any promotion or pay raise I received in my much-cherished career before child.
I offer a few tentative suggestions for things she could look into. It’s a lot, lot harder for her. She’s a single mother. Her husband died young from cancer. Zoe has no one else to provide the backup income while she makes a go of it. If she doesn’t work, there’s no food on the table and the mortgage isn’t paid. Taking that leap into working from home, with no income until you are established, would be a whole lot riskier for her than it was for me.
But work takes its toll on Zoe and her daughter. Zoe is working long, long hours. Her daughter is at school, childcare or someone else’s house all day. Zoe has four weeks of vacation a year to see her daughter and have time to go to the playground.
I am unhappy with my answers. There has to be something she can do! I don’t believe in defeat. There are always options. There is always a solution.
As teenagers in those heady years at the tail end of the feminist movement, we were taught that women could do anything. We were told that we had choice. I now feel like screaming, “Where have those choices gone?” This is not how it was meant to be. There must be something else she can do.
I put down the phone. Her call upsets me.
A similar call from my dear friend Jessica follows just a month later. She can’t find a part-time job. With two kids now in school, she wants to get back to work. But where are the part-time jobs? She’s happy to work nights and school hours, but the jobs aren’t there. After years out of the workforce, she doesn’t feel confident. She’s scared and unsure of where she fits anymore. She talks about going back to school—maybe another degree will give her new options.
Jessica is intelligent and very capable. She’s had great jobs before, and even part-time ones after baby number one. Now they seem like distant fairy tales, belonging to another person and another world. Her world has changed. She has changed. Where does she fit now?
Then there is Helen, a divorced mother my age who has three older teenagers. We meet at a social group once or twice a month. She has recently gone to school to get her first degree so that she can make her own money now. But the demands of juggling studying, any sort of work, and three teenagers are difficult. She dreams of making money flexibly. Her despair is evident. I feel it. I know it. I have been there.
I understand when she says: “I’ve taken heaps of courses, real estate investing, this kind of business opportunity, that kind. But they only work for them, not for me. One real estate course I did, both he and his partner had high incomes. That’s not me. I am a single mother with no money—where is something I can do?”
This is an excerpt from Jennifer Forest’s book Work Women Want: Work at Home or Go Part-Time. She is on a quest chasing the promise made to her as a teenager: that women can have it all. Why can’t women have time to take their kids to the playground but still make decent money? Work Women Want: Work at Home or Go Part-Time was released May 1st 2013 in print and e-book.