Living best of both worlds

by Frances Frey '01

Looking back on the decisions that have lead me to where I am today, I feel lucky because I didn’t get around to having children in the most straightforward way.

If you had asked me at Scripps whether I wanted children and how I would balance work and family, I would have said that yes, I wanted children, and then stared blankly at you. I didn’t know what I wanted to do — I couldn’t envision having an actual career — and that worried me. The fact that I majored in psychology and went on to a PhD program in social psychology says more about how engaging the psychology department at Scripps is than it does about me.

After four years worrying about how I would become a professor and have kids, my lack of passion for psychology caught up with me. I had begun my dissertation, but it wasn’t turning out. My department was going through a major upheaval, my advisor was being nudged out, and I was out of funding. I had far more reasons to leave than I had to stay, so I planned my escape. I volunteered at a non-profit, which helped me get a paid summer job at another non-profit. From there, I managed to get a job as a statistical analyst with a test publishing company. Without much trouble, I had gotten a career.

After half a year in a new home, my husband and I decided it was time to have kids, and in December 2006, we had our first son. I fell instantly in love. More than anything, I wanted to be able to stay home. But my job paid three times as much as my husband’s, and it gave us health insurance, which was essential now that we had a child. I went back to work, and my husband stayed home with our son.

My job was not a good fit for me and being away from my son full time was too much. At night, my husband and I took turns getting up with our crying infant. I was exhausted and lonely.

When my son was 11 months old, I transferred to a job within my company that was a better fit. I began negotiating to reduce my hours. I had my second son in July 2009, and since then, I’ve been working 25 hours a week.

Working part time gives me the best of both worlds. I get to help support my family financially and have time each day when there isn’t a little boy clinging to me. I also have a husband who knows how to do all of the things our children need: he can change diapers, give baths, facilitate naps, go on playdates, feed lunch, and kiss “owies.”

Best of all, working part time gives me time — to relax with my children, cook more interesting food, read, and be a full person.

 

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