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  • Approved for CNN

  • Click to view jgervais's profile
    Posted March 12, 2013 by
    Jackson, Michigan
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Work and family: Making it work

    I Choose Sanity


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     jgervais is a web developer in Jackson, Michigan, and says she wasn't expecting to want to stay home with her children. Looking back, she said she would have waited to pursue a degree and avoided the debt she now must work to pay off. She says she and her husband try to balance the load as best they can, but 'leaning in' to bigger opportunities at work -- as Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg advises women -- isn't realistic, she says.

    'I choose sanity, and I just don't have the mental ability to put in 10 hours of work a day and additional work on the weekends, which seems to be the unspoken requirement for showing your dedication to your work and commitment to being available 24/7 to your job in order to receive promotions in a typical work environment, and then coming home and cook dinner, clean up, and give my children my 100 percent attention when you get home as they beg you to watch their every move looking for that approval from their mother that their entire life seems to depend on.'
    - dsashin, CNN iReport producer

    The struggle of women trying to obtain a work/life balance is a separation of the classes, not an issue of gender equality. The story of a single working mom with no financial support will always be different than the story of a woman with a Harvard degree, financial support from her family, and a CEO husband.

    When you are financially secure - you are free to make the decision to stay home and be with your children or you are free to make the choice to become CEO of Yahoo! and hire a slew of well educated nannies to give your children the best care imaginable in the absence of your presence.

    Many of us women who tried to pursue the American dream, ended up with a mortgage worth of school dept, and may or may not have been lucky enough to find a good paying job with benefits - do not have the luxury or the choice to leave the job we worked so hard to get to stay home and raise our children.

    Ultimately, when given the choice, I would say there is more control over the outcome of a hard days work: You work hard, you put in the hours, you get recognition for a job well done.

    At home you border on the definition of insanity; you do the same tasks over and over expecting different results. You spend your entire Saturday cleaning the house spotless only to have your children (and often significant other) come through like hurricane Sandy leaving wreckage and carnage all over.

    When you are financially secure, you just hire someone to clean your house.

    I personally do not have the choice of whether or not I want to stay home with my children or go pursue a high profile career, nor to hire a house cleaner. My financial situation, the need for good insurance for my family, and the limitation of family financial support have landed me in the position of being a full time working mother, my husband working full time as often as he can (seasonal construction worker), and the kids in daycare most days of the week.

    Choosing sanity by not comparing myself to others is what gets me through each day. I quit carpooling in favor of a more flexible morning. My house is a war zone and guests know to call before they come over. Pursuing a higher career is on hold so the spare time I do get is spent with my kids. Their clothes are stained, their hair is a mess, their outfits don’t match, but my sanity is still mostly intact.

    I just feel fortunate that I have the things I have, because so many others have far less.
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