After our daughter was born, my husband and I surveyed all the various childcare options but none of them left us feeling great about relinquishing the care and upbringing of our first child to a stranger. The cost for childcare in Boston is also extremely high and we struggled with the decision until the last minute.
We surveyed our options: I could leave my job in high tech marketing to stay home with her, we could get a nanny or we could enroll her in daycare. None of these felt right. I loved my job and made great money. While there are great childcare options out there, handing over this fragile little three-month-old daughter to someone we didn't really know just didn't feel right. We wanted to share this time with her and to be the ones to impart our wisdom, guidance and love. It's a dilemma I know many women face.
The other option was for my husband to quit his job and stay home with her. This choice was fraught with confusion and fear—how would it impact our relationship, how would our daughter perceive our roles, how could we find the time and balance to both be happy? Ultimately we decided we would never know unless we took the plunge. We decided to lean in about two weeks before I was to return to work from my maternity leave and have never looked back.
My husband had worked as a footwear designer for a big sneaker company for seven years—a job that had always seemed ideal on the surface. But he longed to focus on his true passion: painting. In the past, it had never made economic sense and we worried about our future if we made this choice. It was and continues to be a scary choice—we struggle to find balance and ensure we both have time to do the things that fulfill us. But it also continues to be the best decision we have ever made.
I am sometimes surprised by the stigma that stay at home dads face—even in the bastion of liberality that is Boston. But other people's opinions of our situation really don't matter. Our daughter spends every day with her daddy—the person who (along with her mom) loves her more than anyone in this world and whose mission in life is to help her grow into a strong, confident and capable woman. She hangs out with artists, goes on playdates, and is showered with affection by a man who could not be a better partner or parent.
In an ambitious twist, about three months after returning to work, my company was purchased by a very large software company and the job I had loved for the past four years became a role that was lukewarm at best. I was fortunate to be very heavily recruited and found myself in the enviable position of having several job offers to choose from. I could stay in the job I knew how to do—or I could lean in. So I did... in a big way.
I took a VP of Marketing job—a role I felt too young and inexperienced to handle. But after rounds of interviews with board members, executives and investors, I gained their confidence (even if I lacked my own). All the other options were easy—they were jobs I knew how to do. This one was big: more responsibility, accountability and a bigger team to manage than I had ever had before.
It has been a month in my new role and if I hadn't leaned in, I never would have known what I am capable of. I love my job, the company I joined and the opportunity this presents for me and my family. I am most proud of the example I am setting for my daughter: to never be afraid and to always push convention.
We are an unconventional family. Our roles are not what everyone expects for a man and a woman or a mom and a dad. But we are making it work and we are loving every day. I am so blessed to live in a part of this country where I think there are many opportunities for women and where many employers offer flexible work schedules and the attitude that all that matters is what we achieve—not where we are when we achieve it. I am so lucky to have great female and male mentors and role models. And most of all, I am the most fortunate woman in the world to get to spend my life with a family that brings me more joy than I could ever put into words.