Recently, some friends and I went to brunch at the Fairmount Grille in Hyde Park. We talked about women from college who went full throttle into the working world instead of pursuing the mommy path after undergrad. After graduating, these women went on to pursue careers in law, medicine, engineering, and business. Many of them completed additional schooling at Columbia, Yale, or Harvard. More than one of them are now top 1% earners.
Naturally, introspection ensued, as it became very clear that these five friends and I had all pursued a starkly different path. Many in this group pursued what I refer to as the part-time SAHM (stay-at-home mom) path, or some variation of it. After we began having children, we neither stayed home with the children full time nor did we continue pursuing traditional high-paying/high-stress jobs. In the end, we chose to adjust and/or straddle both worlds, to varying degrees.
It’s not an easy life to lead, hence the endless articles and blog posts you’ll find floating around the internet about balancing family and work. But I’ve not seen the topic of balancing home and work discussed from the perspective of African American millennial women, so here is my take, which includes real-life examples of six local women.
Out of the six of us, only one became a full-time SAHM. She recently passed the bar exam after homeschooling her children for nearly 10 years. On the opposite extreme, only one of us six currently juggles child rearing with a full-time, location-dependent 8:30 a.m.–6 p.m. work schedule. The rest of us fall somewhere in between. Our salaries range from $0 (formerly — now she is a lawyer and salary is TBD) to $124,000. The four of us in between make over $82,000 each. As individuals, we are far from the top 1% of wealth owners (although when combined with our husbands, some of us are in this category).
We make decent salaries. Actually, we make great salaries. However, it’s when you consider the lifestyles we lead that you truly get a sense of the true wealth of the decisions we made. One of us only works three days a week, thereby building in a four-day weekend with her children. Another is off of work by 2:45 p.m. daily, and has summers off. One of us works from home most mornings, as her position is flexible in terms of location.
It is when you do this deep dive into the daily schedules, the flexibility, the summers and evenings with our children, the lack of travel and time away from our beds, the nice salaries, the funded retirement accounts, the volunteering as class parents, the morning math clubs, the presence at sports, the attended theater performances and the serving on the PTO that you see the sum of all the parts.