A loyal ILI reader just sent me the link to a post on Above the Law called Career Alternatives for Attorneys: Baby Maker? and I encourage you to check it out. The ATL post is inspired by an email from an ostensibly female ATL reader who suggests procreation as a logical escape hatch from BigLaw, as a stellar resume gap explainer, among other things. As someone who left BigLaw to pursue a new career and, yes, ultimately, to "have babies" this piece affected me. I say affected me because "offended" might be too strong a word. The reason I was not mortally offended by this suggestion to pull the "ripcord on the pink-or-blue parachute" was that I immediately took it as a joke. Who in their right mind actually thinks the business of (1) getting pregnant; (2) sustaining a healthy pregnancy; (3) birthing a child; (4) raising a child is an easy option, or something anyone should do for reasons other than the right ones?
What are the right reasons to have a child? A ticking clock? A desire for family? A desire to create life with a person you love? Maybe. To escape the monotony and demoralization of a lackluster corporate career? NO. This is not a good reason to have a kid. Period. If anyone thinks that weathering that fertility road, and childbirth road, and raising a living being road (emotionally, financially, physically) are easier than weathering the unfulfilling career road, think again. Please think again.
A quick caveat. I know many, many women who had babies and then left their careers. Many of these women were not thrilled with their jobs in the first place. And, yes, they took that - the fact that they were professionally unsatisfied - as a reason to choose to have the child they independently wanted and to stay home with the child. Other people I know loved their jobs and then had children and went back part-time or after some existential soul-searching, chose to stay home. I am not saying that having kids is not a good reason to abandon a career. Often, it is the very best reason to abandon a career or scale back professionally. My point here is limited, consciously circumscribed: One should not have a kid simply as a means to walk away from an unhappy professional life.
I do very much hope the initial email on which the ATL post was based was a joke. A big, bad, ill-conceived joke. And, moreover, I hope all of those sad souls floating in the purgatory of BigLaw (and many are not sad, I know, but many are) see this as a joke. And laugh.
Believe me. Babies are the best things that have ever happened to me. And the hardest. But they are not "little tax deductions." They are people. No one should get pregnant to get out of anything. In an ideal world, people should muster the bravery to walk away for the right reasons. Reasons that involve personal sanity and happiness and ambition, not a conveniently-created new life.
Thoughts on this one?