Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Career (n.):

(1) a field for or pursuit of consecutive progressive achievement especially in public, professional, or business life.

(2) a profession for which one trains and which is undertaken as a permanent calling.

Job: (n.) a post of employment.

(definitions courtesy of and


While it's certainly not out of the question for mothers to work these days, most of the working mothers I know have jobs, not careers. What is the difference?

A career is a priority in life, something that gives you personal satisfaction, something you can direct your ambition towards and strive to achieve higher goals.

A job is a position for which you show up every day and collect money in exchange for your efforts, then go home to your family.

There is nothing wrong with either choice. I, however, went to school for the first quarter-century of my life in preparation for a career, which I am now enjoying immensely. I have no desire to turn it into a job, and make some kid the focus of my life instead.

As an attorney at a fairly large firm in New York, I work about 55 hours a week. I consider that a good work-life balance. It means that about half of my waking hours are spent at work, and the other half are spent in personal time.

I care a lot about my career and about my firm. I've been working there for seven years (I started out as a paralegal in the summer of 2000), and right now, I have every intention of staying long enough to become a partner someday.

That doesn't happen to women with kids. Let me stress that my firm, as law firms go, is extremely accommodating to mothers who want to continue to work. But those mothers, due to the demands of their families, have a very different life at the firm than I do. Most don't want to do litigation, which I love, because of the long hours required. Most work 9-5, only billing maybe seven or eight hours a day, if that. Many work at home one or more days a week. And all put their children ahead of their careers, which usually means that they ultimately forego making partner. Of course, as moms, that's what they should do. I just don't want to have to do that.

My career is very important to me, as much so as my personal life. Of course a personal emergency, like injury or illness in my family, would always take priority over my job, but work emergencies also take priority over my personal life at times. My life is balanced, and it allows for the demands of a stressful, high-profile career. That would not be the case if I had children.

I don't show up at work every day just to collect a paycheck. I come to serve clients and to achieve the satisfaction of continually advancing along a career path. I have a profession -- a career -- not a job. And that is something that is incredibly difficult to sustain with a child.

1 comment:

Mel said...

I'm exactly the same way although I work at a large ad agency instead of a law firm. I paid good money for my advertising degree (still paying for it actually...) and have every intention of making the most of it and having the best career I can possibly have. There's no way I'm letting some snot-nosed kid(s) mess that up.