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A Rocket Building Mother's Feminist Dilemma

A Rocket Building Mother’s Feminist Dilemma

By Amalah

Amy,

I have been offered the final step to my dream job in the aerospace industry. I’ve been working and going to school in engineering with two kids for a few years now and am nearing graduation. I am a non traditional student who went back to school in my late 20s after becoming a mother.

I’ve just been offered an amazing job opportunity in California for 11 weeks this summer. I would  actually be putting hands on things that would launch INTO SPACE! So cool right? It’s a temporary pay cut, but it almost guarantees that I will have so many more opportunities at graduation.

The big downside is that I cannot bring my two boys, ages 5 and 3 along for the ride. My husband is in full support of me going (though I think he doesn’t fully understand what he is signing up for). We don’t have much family and he would be mostly on his own for the summer while working full-time. Still, he insists it’s the best thing for us. The problem is that everyone from my boss and my professors to my own mother is saying things like “How could you leave them for months?” “I could never…” “you have no idea what you are doing!” etc etc

Am I making a terrible mistake? Will my husband resent me forever? Will my connection with my boys ever recover? My youngest is a tender little guy and I’m worried about what my absence might mean for him.

Thanks for listening,

K

DO IT DO IT DO IT DO IT DO IT!!!

Ignore the (totally sexist) naysayers. Eleven weeks in California is not a lifetime in Siberia. We have things now called phones! And Skype! And sorts of ways of keeping in regular, daily touch with our loved ones when work and life requires us to be away from them for awhile. Not to mention that leaving your children in the care of THEIR OWN FATHER is hardly callous abandonment. Assuming you didn’t marry the sort of husband from a TV commercial who requires his wife to show him how laundry detergent or paper towels work, he will be fine. And so will your boys!

Not only is this an INCREDIBLE opportunity for you professionally, this is also an incredible opportunity for you as a mother and a strong female role model. Their takeaway from this will NOT be “our mom left us for months and months for no good reason and scarred us for life.” It will probably be something more like “our mom is a superhero who builds ACTUAL FREAKING ROCKET SHIPS FOR SPACEEEEE.”

It’s a bummer that, in 20-freaking-18, you’re getting heaped with working-mom guilt trips from so many people. Including your boss and professors?? Shame on them, honestly, especially given how STEM-related fields desperately need more women to consider them in the first place. Even if this isn’t a decision they’d personally make, I’m surprised that they’d be making such judge-y and unhelpful comments. (Maybe they R JUS JELUS.) Would a dad of two kids get that kind of push back? Probably not, so pffft.

If I was your mom/boss/professor, I’d be more disappointed if you DIDN’T seize this opportunity, after all the effort you’ve put into work and school while balancing motherhood. So there you go. Your Internet Advice Columnist told you to go, so you’re damn well going now.

Mommy is going on a trip. Mommy will come home from her trip. While Mommy is on her trip, she will call/video chat/send fun mail on a regular basis. Have a calendar at home that lets them cross days off and count the days until you’re back. Maybe put together a photo book/social story thing: The astronauts need Mommy’s help! She will help the astronauts and then come back home. Whenever YOU need help, Mommy will be there to help you. And so will Daddy, who will be here the whole time while Mommy is away. Etc. etc.

To the next person who says anything negative, shut it down with something like, “My kids will be in great hands while I’m away, and we’ve decided as a family that this is the right thing for us and it would be a mistake to turn down this opportunity. Thanks for your concern, but we’ve got this.”

Because you DO got this. Go get this! I’m proud of you.

Photo source: Depositphotos/shadoff

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Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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Comments

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EmilyG
Guest
EmilyG

Go! Oh my gosh, go! From one working mom (who missed kindergarten graduation to speak at a conference) to another– go! Congratulations on working hard and getting such a great opportunity!

Kate
Guest
Kate

Do it . I’m with Amy. Just do it . That is beyond freaking cool. There is no way this nonsense would be said to a man. As a former research scientist, I would kill for such an opportunity.

Carolyn Russell
Guest

AMEN AMALAH! I think the social story is a GREAT idea as a way to prep them and get them excited for you, and also, I’m assuming you’re not working 7 days a week (right?). Couldn’t you visit a few times during that 11 week period? It sounds like a great investment in your future, so to anyone who tries to guilt you otherwise, I’d just respond that it’s an opportunity that will give your family a better life and leave it at that!

Myriam
Guest
Myriam

DO IT!!!!!! Military moms do it all the time! DO IT!!!!!! And Amalsh’s right. It’s so sexist. Would they ask the same of Dad?

G Smith
Guest
G Smith

ALSO, what a great example dad will be setting for these boys!!

Elizabeth
Guest

DO IT! How awesome will it be when your kids go back to school in the fall and tell their teachers/friends that Mommy spent the summer building rockets for astronauts?!

Alexis
Guest
Alexis

Yes, yes, yes – go! This is a great opportunity for you and your family. My neighbor just came back from a four month training in another state (his kids are in elementary school). He came back to visit twice, and the whole family went down for his “graduation” and a fun vacation at the end. Like Amy said, you’ll be able to stay in touch with Skype; you could also do care packages or postcards (from you to the kids and from them to you) – kids love mail and presents.

Vickie
Guest
Vickie

Absolutely go. You might find visits help, or they might actually be disruptive. Letting them settle into their new routine for a several weeks might be smarter. Do not assume frequent visits are the answer. Skype/FaceTime are wonderful things. When my kids were little, a timer worked well on phone calls to grandma. A start and an end time. And what he does with them will not be the same as what you do. So some things, you might have to just let go. I think it is important to figure out together key things. Like bedtimes make for nicer… Read more »

CKD1
Guest
CKD1

This may also be a great opportunity for Dad and the boys to bond in new ways and create some fun memories together. I 100% agree with everything Amy said between this being sexist garbage and how this is the chance of a lifetime. Take your husband at his supportive (God bless him) word, start lining up help and support (camps, family to visit, a college student to come offer respite and babysitting), pack your bags, and go get ’em!

Jessica Fantastica
Guest
Jessica Fantastica

Your Internet Advice Columnist commentor is also telling you to go, so you’re damn well going now. I can’t scream it enough, you earned this and you deserve it!

Polopoly
Guest
Polopoly

Do it !!! Your boys are old enough to understand and they will be bragging to their friends about you. Its not like you’re leaving your hubby with a 3mo exclusively BF infant. Do it ! It will be tough leaving them, it will be tough coming back, but OH SO WORTH IT ! And kudos to you for putting in so much hard work to get the opportunity.

Stephanie
Guest
Stephanie

DO IT! For all of the reasons Amy lists. What an amazing opportunity for you. DO NOT PASS IT UP!

Rebecca
Guest
Rebecca

Omg go. I also went back to college with kids and really wanted to do a semester abroad but everyone asked how I could do that to my kids (ultimately I decided not to pursue the option because of other reasons). Then my husband joined the military and spent far more time away than one semester with everyone praising his dedication to his family so, you know, fuck that (I adore my husband and he did do it for us-and tried to find a way for me to do that semester-but the blatant sexism still enrages me).

RocketRN
Guest
RocketRN

Former Aerospace Engineer here. Took that summer internship, changed my life. Totally changed my life. Take it. Do whatever you can to take it. Kids bounce back and they brag. My kid loves to tell people I worked for NASA (fifteen years ago). I never would have been offered the positions I was offered right out of school without my intern experience. The aerospace industry is just too tight, especially with defense spending cuts to not take any advantage possible. Then the defense industry took a nosedive about the time I had my daughter. I retrained in a totally different… Read more »

Annie Urban
Guest
Annie Urban

Uh, yeah….people are being sexist jerks. As a mom of 2 myself, I would totally go for it!! Yeah, you’ll miss your kids and husband, and they’ll miss you. But, in the long run, 11 weeks isn’t that long. AT ALL. I think a short term assignment dedicated to a major, long term career boost absolutely sounds worth it. I’m excited for you! Congratulations on what little sounds like a exiting opportunity and such a cool career!

Caroline Bowman
Guest
Caroline Bowman

To the next person who says ”I could never” to you, if it is a man just say ”you have absolutely no idea of how sexist you sound. Fathers work away for set periods A LOT and are praised for being so wonderful. My children’s father luckily is quite a competent human, so thanks for the judgement with a side order of chauvinism, but I will be taking this opportunity”. If it’s a woman you say ”well, that’s okay because NO ONE IS OFFERING YOU THE OPPORTUNITY, ARE THEY, CAROL?” You must do this, it is literally a life-defining offer… Read more »

Stef
Guest
Stef

Do it! Your husband is on board, he might not know what he’s getting into, but hey, that’s part of parenting. He’ll be fine, your boys will be fine and you’ll be fine! Go for your dream! Everyone will profit from that in the short and long run.

IrishCream
Guest
IrishCream

Do it. Women are raised to feel guilty, before we even have kids, about putting themselves first. Your guilt doesn’t mean that going is the wrong decision or that you’re hurting your kids. I’ve never done a multi-week trip, but since my kids were 2 years and nine months (they’re now 7 and 5), I’ve spent three-four days a month on work travel. Things that minimize the disruption to them: keeping the routine at home basically the same, and not doing super frequent phone calls. Especially when they were little, it just got them wound up and seemed to make… Read more »

Brenna M
Guest
Brenna M

DO IT!!! (how do I make this font bigger) YES DO IT!

Delora
Guest
Delora

The summer after my son finished kindergarten, I had the opportunity to do a study-abroad program for 10 weeks in Kenya in paleoanthropology (I was a part-time student due to motherhood). We were literally in the middle of the desert with no technology, so didn’t have the luxury of even phone conversations, nevermind skype sessions. Snail mail letters took two weeks each way to arrive. My son survived just fine. It was by far, the most amazing experience of my life. Maybe you can see if your husband can bring the boys out for vacation for a week; they can… Read more »

Dan
Guest
Dan

Go go go. I’m on the dad side of this equation and when my wife went away it totally changed my relationship with my son- in a good way! She pre-wrote letters for him to open with pictures of them inside and little sweet treat, that really helped (him and her!). Good luck!

Lindsay
Guest
Lindsay

DO IT. Aerospace engineer here. I still remember the excitement of coming home from my first day on the job after having touched a real live satellite that was going into space. I’m old and jaded now (been doing it 19 years) so the excitement of touching things is gone now, but the early job stuff is IMPORTANT. Side note: I’ve done a LOT of hiring and the enthusiasm you show is always one of my favorite things about the youngsters. The aerospace industry has quite a few old timers in it (I’m mid-range now, haha) but the fresh new… Read more »

Amy Moore
Guest
Amy Moore

Just wanted to be another internet stranger coming to say DO IT! You won’t regret it! As a working mom of three who has to sometimes cajole my husband to letting me go on conferences and things, I just want to put a shout out to your husband for supporting you and wanting you to do it. You rock(et), Mama! (literally)

JenVegas
Guest
JenVegas

Doooooooooooooooooooooo it! It sounds like an amazing opportunity and you’ll be super upset with yourself if you don’t.

Emily Staats
Guest
Emily Staats

DO IT OMG A THOUSAND TIMES DO IT

Your husband is great, your kids will be just fine. Go out there and live your best life with this awesome opportunity!!!!

kelly
Guest
kelly

Do it! Go! DO IT DO IT DO IT.

Echoing all the other comments…
Your (yay supportive!) husband will find his solo parenting groove, and that Just Dad time will be great for his relationships with your sons.
The boys will be fine; kids are often more flexible than we realize. They’ll miss you, but your relationships with them will not permanently suffer.
People admonishing you for considering this need to SIT DOWN and reconsider their sexist nonsense. No way would they say sh*t like that to a working dad.

Tiffany
Guest
Tiffany

Do it! Yes, it’ll be hard, but anything worth doing is! If it helps, could you plan a mid summer visit? Maybe if Dad can’t get time off, Grandma (who is so concerned) can bring them out?