From big business to the rugrat race
husband and I always thought he'd be the stay-at-home parent, so I am shocked
that I am the one changing diapers all day.
were dating, I was making a solid, six-figure salary in the software industry.
I had already founded two companies and cashed out of one. He was a video artist
and traveled to festivals all over the world showing arcane art on activist topics.
He planned offbeat things to do on our dates; I would pay for them.
I was rising so fast in my corporate career that
a business magazine paid me to write about my ascent. I ended up making as much
money writing as my husband made at his day job.
me if I resented having two jobs and subsidizing my husband's career as an artist.
Actually, I didn't mind at all. I loved to work, and he agreed to stay home when
we had kids. I thought I was one of the lucky women who could have kids and still
blast through the glass ceiling because I had a husband who would take care of
our home life.
We planned to get pregnant at a time when it
would not disrupt my career, but in September 2001, our designated family start-date,
both my husband and I got laid off. I got pregnant anyway.
my belly grew, I continued my freelance writing career while he volunteered in
nonprofits, and we lead a bohemian life with corporate savings. But by the seventh
month, I missed the structured, team-oriented atmosphere of work. I was editing
my resume the morning I went into labor.
When the baby arrived,
I planned to get a full-time, office job right away, but after only a few weeks
of sleepless nights, my husband got a job offer. He wasn't even looking, really.
But one of the people he met through volunteering got him an interview at a top-notch
human rights organization. They offered him his dream job, so we decided he should
Now I would be home with the baby, alone. For those
of you who haven't had a baby, let's just say that going to an office is about
a thousand times easier than dealing with a newborn. With a newborn there is no
schedule, no break and no performance review to let you know if you're screwing
up. So naturally, I wanted to be the one with the job. I tried to be happy for
my husband. I tried not to hope that he would hate his job and quit.
my first week as a stay-at-home mom, I couldn't sleep, I couldn't write and I
couldn't figure out how any adult could stay home all day with a baby who can't
talk. So I hired a baby sitter for a few days a week, and I went to an office
to write and look for a full-time job.
But I never got around
to the job hunt because I missed the baby while I was away. I missed his smile
and the way he stares at his hands like he's not sure if they're his.
often describe their family life in terms of earning power: The spouse who has
the higher earning power is the one who works. This is logical, but it doesn't
always work out that way.
Penelope Trunk is
a New York-based writer who in the past has started Internet divisions at Fortune
500 companies, founded two technology-focused companies and endured an IPO, a
buyout and a bankruptcy.