2017 – how did you get here so quickly? Time continues to fly by, and although my bank account is looking healthier than it did a few years ago, I am still the same old person. 2017 already looks a bit shaky given our political climate (how on earth did Trump get elected president? So #unpresidented). Anyway, 2017, here are some things I want to accomplish in you — which sounds awkward but you are a year and therefore I’m not doing anything obscene by entering your cavernous orifices via January 1. Continue reading
I apologize in advance for the incoming froth of baby posts, but in advance of my 33rd birthday without so much as trying to get pregnant yet, I’ve got DNA salvation on my mind – in other words, my biological clock is ticking so loudly I can no longer ignore it.
The other week, I wrote a post where for the first time I seriously considered freezing my eggs or embryos. Even though it seemed like it might be a good idea in the past, I always felt like I’d have my first kid by 32 and my second by 35. If for some reason the second was taking a bit too long I could invest in IVF and there would be my half-million dollar rugrats to take me and Mr. HECC and create a family. Continue reading
In California, if you qualify for paid family leave (PFL) you can receive up to six weeks’ worth of wages at a reduced level. You are eligible for about 55% of our average weekly income during this base period. The maximum weekly benefit is $1067. Both parents, as well as same sex domestic partners, can qualify for this leave.
Also the FMLA (family medical leave act) says that you can take 12 weeks of unpaid time and you have to be offered the same job or a similar role when you come back.
That’s a great benefit to living in the state of California. But there’s a catch – your company must employ at least 50 employees within a 75 mile radius in order to qualify for both of these.
When deciding on a job opportunity, I don’t want my potential future childbearing situation to be part of the decision. Maybe that’s naive, but I don’t even know if I can have a child or how long it will take to do so. I might get pregnant the second I start trying or it can take many, many years – and by that time I could have been employed at a smaller company with great success.
Granted, my story reaps of privilege – my income level makes it possible to save (if I continue to rent an apartment anyway) and be able to have gaps in employment without resorting to food stamps. That said, I am a woman who is looking at two job opportunities and I know one will have to give me six weeks off with 55% of my income if I do have a kid at some point while working there, whereas I’d be shit-out-of-luck at the other.
In short, they say wait until you get pregnant and then deal with it.
While smaller companies aren’t focused on parental leave policies, larger companies in Silicon Valley are making inroads for maternity and paternity leave.
Let’s remember that the U.S. is the only developed country in the world that does not require some kind of paid leave for new mothers. According to the Department of Labor, only 12 percent of private-sector workers have access to it.
In Silicon Valley, small startups offer nothing (or, at best, it’s a case-by-case basis that you can’t predict) while larger tech companies offer significant improvements to enhance their culture, talent acquisition and retention.
Facebook gives 4 months PTO, Google gives 18 paid weeks for moms and 12 for dads, and plenty other well-known firms are coming out at supporters of new parents (Adobe and Netflix have gotten some good PR buzz lately from their policies, certainly helping their recruiting efforts of top talent. Netflix, with it’s buzz-worthy ‘unlimited time off’ policy for paternity leave, is only offering it for the company’s highly-competitive streaming division – which isn’t getting as much buzz but important to point out.)
To be fair to a small startup, losing one employee for a substantial amount of time can be a much bigger challenge when they cannot be replaced temporarily. And life is a balancing act where you’re never fully balanced. You have to make hard choices and sometimes that means giving up a job opportunity for more stability and parental leave or just sucking it up and dealing with losing your job should you need to take a significant amount of time to recover from childbirth and bond with your new child. That’s life, right?
But when you look at the lack of women in tech startups, you should ask yourself if that has something to do with the fact that dudes are running the show and not thinking about what would attract female talent. In a survey of 101 women in Silicon Valley, 61% said they wouldn’t work for a startup or tech company that didn’t have a maternity policy. That pretty much means 61% of women wouldn’t work for a Series A or B startup for this reason alone.
Of 97 tech companies polled, one-quarter offered less than a month of paid leave for new mothers.
One CEO talked to 716 women who left the tech industry about their reason for leaving. Women who successfully negotiated unpaid time off at smaller companies were still expected to work, albeit remotely. I saw this first-hand when a very senior-level executive at my last startup went through her own pregnancy. She’s a rockstar and can hold it together with a lot of competing priorities, but I know she was working at least for part of her maternity leave, and probably a lot more than I even know. And the company was very flexible with her because everyone would agree she’s irreplaceable (or it would be just very challenging to replace her and not worth pushing her out.) What about everyone else who can be replaced?
Of those 716 women surveyed, 465 are not working today. 251 are employed in non-tech jobs and 45 are running their own companies. 625 of those women say they have no plan to return to tech.
And we wonder why there are so few women in tech leadership roles. You can say it’s a choice – and to some extent, it is. But a man doesn’t have to make the choice. A man doesn’t have his body taken over by a child for nine months, and then have to feed that child from his body for many months after that. And as long as startup CEOs don’t acknowledge the need for parental leave, or deal with it on a case-by-case, depends how much we like you basis, women in tech – esp in senior leadership roles – will be few and far between.
The term “childfree” is all the rage these days. A new book “Selfish, Shallow and Self-Absorbed – Sixteen Writers on the Decision NOT to Have Kids” is getting its spin in the spotlight. Not surprisingly, everyone – and their mother – had an opinion on whether or not any woman should become a mother. If you don’t have kids, as the book’s name suggests, you are called various derogatory terms, as if somehow the choice not to bring another human being into the already overpopulated, resource-strained world is the most selfish thing a person can do. I for one acknowledge that the choice to be childfree is anything but.
That said, I do want children. I don’t think there is a logical reason why beyond biology; I’m absolutely terrified of my ability to be a good mother – judging by my management skills and hatred of confrontation and overall disorganization and poor time management ability, one could easily make the case why I should not be a mother. I’m 31.5 and it would be just as easy to spend the next eight-and-a-half years of my life doing what I’m doing now, until it’s too late, at least naturally, to have a kid or a litter. I could just say, you know what, I don’t want kids, and I’m not going to have any (my parents are expecting me to say this any day, especially since I’ve been in a relationship for nine years and have not yet so much as gotten engaged.)
I don’t know if there’s every a good reason to have kids or to not have kids. If you live a non-religious life, as I do, there’s no god from above throwing shade at me and my partner for not popping out the maximum number of new psyches one body can produce. There are people out there who love kids and people out there who loathe kids in equal parts, and some who love kids never have them by choice or by default and some who hate them have a gaggle to their own dismay. Some who love kids have them and then secretly hate them, and some who secretly hate them, have them, and realize that the meaning of life is seeing the world through their child’s eyes.
Perhaps if I had some sort of outstanding career where I was happy jet-setting around the world, creating art or performing on broadway or directing films or writing novels which leave no time to be distracted by little brats screaming bloody murder in the background, I’d think that a childfree life would be the way to go. But I’ve gotten to this strange point of limbo in life. At 31, with nearly $350k in savings (on paper, anyway), and a career that, while sucking up the majority of my waking life, inspires me less than a calculus class, I know that I am fortunate to have options that few have, but I there is something horrifyingly missing from my life today. It isn’t a big fancy house or even a big fancy job. It’s family.
Family, of course, can mean many things. I grew up with a large extended family – myself being the oldest cousin – with just one sister and two parents, but well over 15 attendees to any holiday family gathering, my childhood was filled with the dramatics of a family mixed with Tri-State Jews, Italians, and Cubans, which was lively to say the least. Of course as a child I never really appreciated this, it was just the way life was. It was yet another holiday, another family event to go to, and as I transformed from the only child of the whole family, cute and the center of attention, to the oldest cousin who was meant to behave and help entertain the young ones or be bragged about relentlessly by her narcissistic parents who would overstate her accomplishments, I didn’t have what one would call a healthy relationship with that family. Still, it was family – a family I’m sorely lacking today.
Even though I doubt my maternal instincts and abilities, I also feel inspired to build a strong, solid family filled with love and care. One where perfection is not the expectation and flaws are equally rewarded and cherished. My boyfriend and likely future husband is such a quiet, calm, introverted individual, I fear our family will be so small, mellow, and quiet without the organic melding of a localized large extended family. I’ve considered moving back to the east coast just to be near family — my parents are having a portion of our giant clan over for seder tonight, and I will yet again miss it — but I don’t know if that would really help or hurt my desire to set up a healthy family dynamic sans the consistent crazy of my own parents.
When I think about my life, you know, the next year or ten years or thirty or eighty of it, I no longer have this crazy desire to be the next Idina Menzel or Ellen Degeneres. All my life I thought what I wanted was fame, to just be someone who people knew and loved and would be willing to talk to, someone who wasn’t this oddball in the corner hoping for her shot to be not only accepted by lauded for her esteemed personality and thoughts. I thought that was core to who I am, something that would never change. I dedicated my early 20s to auditioning for local productions, sacrificing potential jobs which conflicted with evenings off for rehearsal, not because I thought I’d get the lead or because I really believed I had the talent to ever succeed in the performing arts, but because the drive was there. It was gnawing, visceral, relentless and the only iota of a self-propelled intention I knew to be true. Even that, the one thing I thought I knew about myself, it seems, is fleeting.
I wouldn’t mind being known for doing something great – writing a best selling novel or, heck, one day the grande reveal of this blog once it becomes more than just a never-ending self-absorbed tale of depression, anxiety and poor career choices (I’m surprised anyone actually reads this thing, but if you are reading, hello) – but what I really want to do, what I really want more than anything in the world, is to be able to go to the park with my kids and watch them run around and laugh and fall down and get up all over again. I want to have teenagers who I can relate to deeply due to my extended, perhaps pervasive adolescence, and help them grow into their own. I want to raise children who learn that they can do anything they want, that it doesn’t have to be something worthy of bragging about. That their destiny is their own. You know, I’ll never be a great employee. I’m not built to be an award-winning corporate, execution-oriented, results-driven robot. I think I might be built to be a mother. Well, I guess you can say, of course I am.
It’s not just that most of my friends have children that is on my mind lately – it’s that their children are very quickly growing up. I didn’t feel so behind with my friends having tiny babies that could only communicate in screams and silence, but now my friend’s kids are bouncing around all over the place, building up their personalities, laughing and making out a few words. A few of my friends are even on their second child. I’m 31, childless, by choice, but it won’t be by choice for long.
I didn’t grow up knowing I wanted to be a mother. But now that I’m in a long-term relationship of nearly 9 years, I’m ready. I mean, I’m really ready – as ready as I’ll ever be. But the reality is that I’m not even engaged yet. If I get engaged in early 2015, which I think I will, I won’t be married until late 2016, after I turn 33. As I’ve written about before, having children is going to be challenging and require some form of medical intervention due to having severe PCOS. Who knows if I even can have kids? It may be impossible. What will hurt most is finding out that it might have not been impossible if only I didn’t wait so long…
There’s a growing part of me that wants to skip this marriage thing altogether and jump to having children, or at least trying to. Marriage seems unnecessary these days – and, as I’ve written about before, actually costs more in the long run from a tax perspective and makes life even less affordable. Perhaps marriage itself is not a necessity anymore. I’d like to be married, but I don’t need to be. I feel, at this point, I do need to have children. That’s more important. I want to build my family before it’s too late.
My boyfriend is aware of this, and he wants kids as well. We’ve both discussed 1-2 years as the timeframe for having children. The marriage stuff is where it gets tricky. It requires 1-1.5 years of planning. Not that I really am ready, ready to have a baby today – as in, I couldn’t imagine keeping my current job after giving birth, and I’d like to remain in my job for at least two years if possible. But… I go back and forth… because I’d like children, and by children I mean 2-3 kids, and if I wait any longer it’s just going to be harder to have one, let alone a pair or trio.
I feel like I also have no one to talk to about this. I bring it up with my boyfriend and he says we’ve already discussed it and there’s no use rehashing, in so many words. A peep of this to my parents and I get an earful that I’m waiting too long to begin with. My friends who already have kids and who are sleep deprived aren’t interested in hearing my minor jealousy. So I blog about this topic a lot because I just have no one to share these feelings with. And I’m really starting to get scared — life is buzzing by so quickly and I just don’t want to let it blur before my eyes without having the opportunity to build my family. Yes, adoption and such is always an option, but like so many other women out there I would much prefer to give birth to my own children. I’m not sure if I’d ever adopt. But I’ll cross that bridge when the time comes.
It’s just crazy to me how when you turn 30 you’re suddenly, well, old, in terms of your biological clock. Nowadays our 20s are more or less thought of as time to find ourselves, to explore, to grow up – and then boom, you’re 30, or you’re 31, and then… you have 10 years to get your shit together before you’re freaking forty and you’re a full-on grown-up entering middle age. So, I have ten years, or less, to have all my children, if I’m going to have any, and figure out how to balance some form of work life and personal life. I’m terrified of moving too fast and even more so moving too slow. I put all of my energy into work because I have to right now, that’s my focus, but I can see focusing on that for so long that I just run out of time to have a family. I feel like I might have my priorities mixed up.
Given that I’m going to be an older mother — turning 31 next month and not married yet let alone pregnant — I’ve done a bit of spreadsheeting around how I can afford to have a child. This puts me a little more at ease given that I can live frugally while earning a reasonably high income, save a lot, and put myself in a much better position to have children.
In my chart I noted how much I plan to save each month and have a column for lower average annual interest rates (5%) and higher ones (10%) from age 31 to 40. The chart otherwise includes the following expectations:
1) I will save $5000 per month between now and the time I have my first child (3/1/2017, give or take)
2) I will take 3 months of unpaid leave after having my first child and save $0 per month over those 3 months.
3) I will return to work full time and continue saving $5000 per month (buying less stuff for myself to offset stuff for baby) until baby #2
4) baby #2 will be born 1/1/2020. At this time I have reduced my monthly savings to $0 per month. I may want to work at this time but I want to plan to allow myself to not work and have enough money in our family to afford this. I want to be able to then afford to live off of my husband’s salary while my savings can grow for our retirement nest egg. We’ll probably have to move to a cheaper state at this point.
Based on these 4 constants and the compound interest variable, the range of my networth at age 40 would be $856,634 to 1,271,596 (*not counting my partner’s savings.) And baby #1 will just be turning age 7 or so, which is when babies become kids and start to get expensive… just in time for me to go back to work.
So this all seems rather do-able as long as I keep my head down and focus on the 58 months of saving $5k a month — so 4.8 years, give or take, or $280,000 of savings over that time period (which is a lot… but seems at least somewhat possible.) Given my potential annual bonus is anywhere from $0k to $40k after tax, I could actually get to that amount much quicker if I do my job well. Let’s just say I obtain a quarter of my annual bonus for those four years — $30k per year — that actually gets me to the
$24.1k $280k goal much quicker.
That said – I’m not accounting for IVF costs which will likely be needed and will likely be very expensive (I should account for $100k for two kids and it might not even work…)
Thus in order for me to comfortably have children, I must focus on my job — really over the next two years — and attempt to obtain at least 50% of my annual bonus.
Inputting my networth growth with 50% bonus (~20k extra per year) by the time I have baby #1 (3/1/2017) I will have reached my goal of $500k network — with $507k networth with the 5% interest and $560k with 10%. Clearly I have my work cut out for me. But I can do this so the rest of my life can provide what I really want — not “no work” — but choice and flexibility.
Here is my Mint.com goals which I’ve adjusted for January 2016 target dates. I will focus on tracking to these numbers hitting the maximum possible bonus possible to achieve my desired results.
Time for another post about babies. Babies are everywhere in my life, it seems. Well, not my work life. But my friends back home are having babies (actually, they’re on #2) and my friends out here are on number one. Yesterday I visited a friend’s nine-month old and today I visited another friend’s newborn. Now I see a whole host of them infesting my Facebook wall. They. Are. Everywhere.
Now that I’m 30.5, I’m really seriously thinking about having children. I’ve spent my 20s saving somewhat wisely and at this point life feels all but meaningless without a family. I could definitely see spending the rest of my life barren of children (easier to picture that then it is me as a mother) and it makes me terribly sad. Continue reading
Penelope Trunk isn’t afraid to say what she thinks, or maybe — a self-proclaimed aspie – she can’t help herself. While a lot of what she writes is quite controversial (often, seemingly, for the sake of being controversial and getting site traffic), sometimes she raises a good point. If there’s honesty in her crazy then at least I can respect that, and her bravery for being public about it and not letting that hold her back as an entrepreneur. So she says.
In a still-relevant post from 2012 she writes “Get Pregnant at 25 if You Still Want a High-Powered Career” — she argues that women still want to work part-time or flexible hours while they have kids (esp young kids) and if they wait until they are 30 to have children (like I have) then this also comes at the time in one’s career when the top-level jobs often require frequent travel, long hours, and anything but the time any good parent would or should want with their children. Continue reading
Babies are awesome. They poop all over the place and cry when they don’t have boobs in their mouth. But, seriously, the opportunity to watch an infant grow up is quite miraculous. What’s truly amazing is how fast newborns learn. The last time I was around a kid that young I was seven watching my sister turn into a person. I barely remember that.
This time around I have the fortune of watching a good friend’s child grow from a blob of barely conscious to a real person. What I miss in between monthly visits, I catch in short clips posted to YouTube. Yes, he has his own Facebook page. At six months old, he recognizes faces and smiles when you smile at him. He’s just beginning to crawl. Everyday he does and learns something new. Continue reading
Hello biological clock. I hear you loud and clear. Every time a family walks by with a little itty bitty one, you can’t help but smile and get that gooey feeling, like you really ought to be popping one of those out yourself any day now.
Lately, I can much picture myself as a mother much easier than I can envision myself a bride. Apparently, among Millennials, I’m not alone in this notion. We value parenthood more than marriage.
Today’s 18- to 29-year-olds value parenthood far more than marriage, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of attitudinal surveys. A 2010 Pew Research survey found that 52% of Millennials say being a good parent is “one of the most important things” in life. Just 30% say the same about having a successful marriage — meaning there is a 22-percentage-point gap in the way Millennials value parenthood over marriage.
What scares me is another report by Pew that finds the average age for U.S. mothers who had their first baby in 20062 was 25, a year older than the average first-time mother in 1990. Among all women who had a baby in 2006, the average age is 27, up from 26 in 1990. The prime child-bearing years remain 20-34 — three-quarters of mothers of newborns are in this age range.
I feel so far behind, even though I wasn’t ready to have kids until now, and really, a lot can be said about how I’m not ready now either. Now doesn’t mean this second anyway — it means in the next few years. Continue reading