||The Brazen Careerist
Sacrifice children or career?
My friend Liz just got an offer
to be director of a groundbreaking, high-profile psychology program.
It's a lucrative, five-year contract. Liz is 35 and
single and has tons of time to devote to her career. But she's not
sure if she wants to take this offer because what she really wants
Like many women in this age group, Liz spent her 20s
and early 30s building her career. She has lots of experience meeting
men she can manage and very little experience meeting a man she
Her current job would be great if she had a guy lined
up for kids because she could work part-time, which would allow
her to stay on her career path and spend a lot of time at home.
But alas, there is no guy lined up.
Her current job is good for online dating, too, because
she can work from almost anywhere so she can conduct a broad search
across county lines (and because she can peruse Match.com from her
But Liz is antsy to have a child, and even with the
Internet, dating is not a fast process. So she is thinking of taking
things into her own hands. She has contemplated telling a boyfriend
that she is using birth control when she is not, and getting pregnant
that way. But she can't get past the conversation she'd have with
her teenage kid:
"Mom, why didn't my dad stick around?"
"Because I tricked him into having a child."
Liz has two, non-boyfriend options: buying sperm from
a bank or adopting a baby from Asia. Both options cost about $30,000,
which is a good argument for taking the new, high-paying job. The
ongoing cost of child care, which for a single mom in her neighborhood
would be about $400 a week, is another good reason to have a high-paying
job. Her current job would not provide enough income to fund this
But once she's the director of the program, she couldn't
work part-time, she couldn't move, and she probably couldn't even
find the time to date. So for Liz, this job decision is loaded.
It's the decision between holding onto the dream of a spouse and
kids and a part-time job, or giving up the dream for more practical
measures and going the child route alone.
Liz calls me every day to discuss her life, which
has become somewhat like a horse race. She tells me that this month's
boyfriend might be in love. "He took me to his parent's house
She thinks he might take allergy pills so he can sleep
over in her cat-infested bed. "Then marriage is a real possibility."
Last week, she got herself another month to make the
decision about the directorship. "By then, maybe I 'll know."
But she sighs a deep sigh, and we both know that when
it comes to giving up a career for a family or vice versa, really,
you never know.
-- Posted: Nov. 11, 2002