Sorry to mislead you, Roxy. No, I have not decided to stay at home. The title of my last post, "The Unexpected Decision to Stay at Home" was meant to indicate that it is a suprise for some mothers when they have the baby and realize that they want to stay at home. I, however, am firmly entrenched in the workforce and do not plan to leave anytime soon. I think I've failed to explain the perceptions that exist in the legal community (although those attitudes are progressively changing and I will have to fairly address those changes in another post).
Unfortunately, in my industry it is frowned upon (by some) for women who exit the workforce to stay at home with their kids. I think this is more often the view of other women who don't have kids yet and see the struggle to the top being thwarted by the constant reminder to the male partners (who are already at the top) that women tend to leave their jobs to stay at home. In a way, women are almost written off for long-term careers because there is a constant suspicion that the woman will not be around in ten years after she has her kids. It makes it all the more difficult for a woman who wants to stay in the workforce to convince the older colleagues that they aren't going to leave. I have faced this over and over as I've popped out kid after kid (well, just two kids) and announced yet another pregnancy. I would have thought that after having stayed after my job after two children, it would be obvious to the world that I'm a working mom and not a stay at home mom, but people continue to ask me if I'm going to stay at home now. I love what I am and I wouldn't change it. I feel like I made the right decision for myself, just like you Roxy.
I believe that this repeated question of whether I'm going to stay at home actually derives from the "old-fashioned" nature of my community (and yours - perhaps it is a Southern thing or a conservative thing). Here at my firm (and I swear I'm not throwing stones at all), there are 23 male attorneys out of 31 attorneys. I won't say that this is without exception, but I believe that almost all their wives stayed (or currently stay) at home to take care of the children. Now, I think some of their wives have jobs now that the children are grown or had jobs prior to having had children. I can think of one partner (I call them partners but they are in reality shareholders in my company so forgive me if I go back and forth) whose wife left her job as a nurse ansethistist after having her second child, but they had to experience the complications of a having two working parents. (by the way, nurse anethistist are highly educated and experienced and paid professionals with demanding schedules). Nonetheless, there wasn't a single attorney (to my knowledge) that really had to deal with their spouse working, and even if there was, I doubt it was like having a spouse who is a doctor or a lawyer who has deadlines and meetings that might conflict. Now, I obviously can't speak in abosolutes about the situation because I might be wrong about one or two, but it is definitely the majority of the situations around here. Also, it was the same at the firm I worked at previously. In some ways, there was also the perception from older attorneys (male attorneys) that if you're a woman and you have a child then you should quit your job to stay at home. It is either you quit your job, or you shouldn't have children in the first place.
As for the other women at my firm, there is only one woman who has had a baby at this firm. All other women have left the firm and one decided to stay at home with her baby before it was born. The one woman who had a baby here, had the baby 20 years ago and I think she went part time, but I might be wrong about that. She is our only female shareholder. We have seven female associates (two more to start in the fall). Three of them either do not have children or have grown children. Three of them do not have children, but have not dismissed the idea of having children. And then there is me - the only working mother of young children at the firm. I have a different schedule. I have different priorities. I'm the only attorney at the firm that calls in with sick kids. I am the only attorney in the firm who has to split days with her husband when one of the kids is sick. I am the only attorney in the firm who has to take off for a child's doctor's appointment. It is my reality and my choice, and I make the best of it. The greatest part is that the firm makes the best of it as well.
Needless to say, there are a lot of views out there on having children and working (whether good or bad). I am personally among the women in the workforce who want to continue to work and who want to prove to everyone that we can have it all. Unfortunately, I'm not sure anyone can actually have it all (in the truest sense of the phrase "having it all"). We all have to make choices - hence the topic of my earlier post "Sacrificing Your Career for Motherhood."