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Parents - How do you do it?

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  • #21
    Originally posted by OhioRiderEsq View Post
    Thanks for those articles Poltroon. I've read Slaughter's article, and I actually went to a Continuing Legal Education event where it was the focus. They had a panel discussion from attorneys in various positions discussing how they did it. My friends and I came away very discouraged because there was only one woman on the panel who didn't have a full time (or more) nanny or a husband who worked only part time. And that one woman had just come back from maternity leave and didn't have much to offer yet. More discouraging were the women with grown children who talked about how they were able to have it all, but then further into the discussion, you learned about all the problems their children had (the one woman shouldn't have even been on the panel since she sent her children away to a boarding school, but I digress).

    I appreciate all of your insight. Until we pay off our student loans (5 more years!), we won't have the disposable income to hire much help. If I found a pasture in which to retire my pony, that would free up a lot of income to have support help at the barn. We were both at larger firms. A year ago, I took a job with a judge. My hours are now 9-5, but I took a 50% pay cut. The eternal catch 22; I now have enough time to ride but not enough money to show much.

    What I have learned from you guys so far is that I need to hire exvet to come help me.
    The money factor is very real, and it will create a lot of stress.

    Flexibility in your job will make a lot of difference. I work from home currently, which means I don't commute every day, and it also gives me the flexibility to be home for my daughter after school and to attend daytime meetings at her school. We bought a horse property, which eats my time in barn chores but means I do get to see the horses every day, and means I live among horsey people. (I doubt we would have done so without the kid.)

    I take a pay cut to telecommute and to have this flexibility, but it is worth it to me.

    I totally hear you about the loans; I was lucky to graduate in an era where $10,000 was a big student loan and when the interest on student loans was less than a savings account paid.

    On the other hand, if kids is something you want to do, you will be potentially pushing the medical envelope if you go past 30. There are not easy choices.

    But, finally: you do have choices. When I feel frustrated I think of all the hardworking and bright women who for whatever reason work retail or other jobs with no flexibility and bosses that jerk their hours around for no good reason and who make far less money than I do.

    If one of your horses is ready to retire, I would start looking for a good situation there, or maybe a half-lease arrangement. The more financially solid you are when you start this adventure, the better.
    If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


    • #22
      Originally posted by Horsegirl's Mom View Post
      OP- Your description of the panel you attended sounds spot on. At my former big firm, it was very discouraging to realize one day that all of the female litigation partners had hubbies who had much more flexibility -- the hubbies were "consultants" or real estate agents or other things that made it possible for them to stay home when the kids were sick, shuttle them back and forth to school and activities, etc.
      It can be pretty annoying to see the men all get pats on the back when they leave early to take the kids for soccer, and for the women to all feel apologetic when they leave before 6:30.

      I am fortunate that the people I work with are all family friendly and respect my time that way.

      When I was younger, pre-kid, I always worked out nice arrangements with my kid-having coworkers that made it OK for me to take my lessons before work in the mornings and to take days off for clinics and shows while I took shifts to work on the no-school days. I think we as a culture need to figure out how to make this flexibility work for all of us, for people to have kids or horses or take mom to the doctor or all the things we might need to do as humans with lives.
      If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


      • #23
        Is it possible? Yes....

        If you have a big red "S" on your chest.

        And that's if you have perfect children who are not medically fragile and DH is a gung ho Daddy.

        Something will give, it will likely be you and the competition horse.

        Just how it is.


        • #24
          IMHO, a person would be hard pressed to "have it all" - big time successful career, time and energy to be an effective, "there" parent, and time to have a good show career. Something gives, at least in part. For me, it was both the career and to some degree, my horse shows/competitions, but that is ok.

          My recommendation is to think about it backwards. Envision what type of lifestyle you and your husband wish to have - where to live, career objectives, horse objectives, and how you want to raise your child(ren). List out what is most important to you and then figure out where to live, what job(s)/careers fit your objectives as well as give you the money to live as you chose. Then come up with a plan to achieve the life that you want. It will be different for every couple but I think having an idea of where you want to go will give you the ideas and choices you will have to make to get there....


          • #25
            OP- I have been in the same situation you are in I wanted to continue with my riding and showing. I have a full time job as RN working 12hr shift so cant ride on work days but have more overall days off dont make enough money to hire anyone. Hubby is computer guy very supportive of the horse and has his own Hobby's but from the beginning didnt want children. Yes I wanted them, yes I wanted to have it all, but I cant do it by myself and I need a partner who is 100%on board with a kido no matter what. So I / We decided not to have children I will always have that what if in the back of my mind but when Hubby wanted the vasectomy I could not say no. I actually do believe if we were in a higher income bracket we would have done it but thats with hiring help to keep up everything we already have going. Thats just not going to work because I knew that from the moment That little person came into the world nothing ealse was going to matter I would sacrafice as would my hubby everything / anything for that child I was going to downsize the riding there is no dought in my mind I probable would have to give it up till later in my life etc. Its a very difficult decishion and a complex one with many layers as to why we chose what we did either choice is ok and you have to do whats best for the two of you as a couple. I am very happy, I love my animals, I love my husband, and I love my life and I know that I cant have it all something has to give.
            Thanks so much to everyone who has posted on this thread I personally really appreciated all the contributions as this is a topic dear to my own heart.
            One day you'll wake up and there wont be any more time to do what you've always wanted to do. Do it NOW!


            • #26
              What everyone else said. Plus: thankfully, my daughter was interested in riding and was in Pony Club--I was one of the DCs for a couple of years, and always very active with PC activities. So we could do the horse things together. She would come with me sometimes to competitions, or my husband would take care of her at those times when I went and she did not.

              We also had a "barn nanny" who would help with farm chores plus do things with Samra.


              • #27
                LOL, I think some of what needs to be defined is "having it all.". Originally when I went to vet school, I had an agenda to get board certification, well after an internship and being burned out on the ivory tower perspective I decided to focus my energies elsewhere. The point is a "big" career I don't exactly have; but, I am very happy with what I've done and where I am now in my professional life. I have always worked 50 hour work weeks just the hours have been on my schedule, not dictated completely by someone else.

                I have never been without a horse. I did do without showing except a catch ride or two on someone else's horse in full training while I was in vet school. So the sacrifices I made during school, my internship and my early days in private practice definitely highlighted to me where my priorities are. I wanted to show, train my own horses and develop a breeding operation. I've had a couple of false starts but, again, am happy where things are now. Once I got out of private practice, even despite the times I was pregnant, my horse time/ride time increased.

                It has made a huge difference that I have my own place. I don't lose riding time to drive time. It also helps that I've been starting and backing horses since I was a kid so the need for riding instruction has been there but not the training. I did hire someone to ride one of my horses once a week when I got too heavy with my second pregnancy but I still was riding on up until my 7 month. I also once put my horse in training and that was two weeks before my son was due. I got her back two weeks after he was born and started riding again. Oh and with that pregnancy I did show up through my 4 month, puking before each test but I did get a few decent scores (in the 70s). For me it has always been kids and horses, horses and kids and never one without the other.

                To address another point made, I have been VERY lucky. My husband loves being a father. My guilt is far more over the money spent than it is with him being "stuck with the kids". I also have been blessed with healthy, well-behaved and seemingly well-adjusted kids despite their mother's selfish addiction. As stated, my kids both opted to get into horses which gave me the opportunity to get to know them better, spend more time with them in true one-on-one situations. They have learned more about responsibility, trade-offs, working, etc because of it as well (Ok perhaps that's me rationalizing but both kids rode today while I was at work). If you ask my kids what kept me away from important events of theirs they'll tell you work, not horses. It's true and not true. I did miss some things because of work, can't predict emergency surgery but there were lots of things I was able to cajole, bargain, take unwanted hours (to others) on in order to gain the hours I wanted off, and take on responsibility that others didn't want in order to be able to dictate my schedule. As everyone keeps saying, it's a trade-off.

                My husband and I talked about all this before we had kids. There were no surprises but guilt, resentment and struggles were definitely there. As we have always done we talk and work things out trying to make sure the kids have what they need. Before we had kids my husband had already decided that like both of us, our kids would have to put themselves through school. We have managed to provide them with cars and opportunities but we don't travel like many families do. Family vacations are my kids and husband going back home to see family. I stay behind to care for all the horses and other animals. That is my choice. I do that in order to be able to have the horses in the first place. I initially grew up on a dairy farm so being "chained" to the animals/place is nothing new. For me it's a reasonable trade off. For others it wouldn't work.

                So for those who claim it BS, well, I'm happy. My kids are good kids. My husband though at times reluctant is still on board. I am the medical director of a small private humane society (something I've very satisfied with) and may still be able to attain board certification. I turn 50 next year so I'm not dead yet. I have a small breeding operation. I do my own training. I've managed to reach decent milestones with my riding. Now my stock does not consist of the fanciest of European stock. My name is not known all over the world. My kids are still trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives; but, to me I do have it all. There will be crises around the corner, surprises and on the horizon elderly parent care (already been into this for a while); and I do see the need to scale back. Still, I have no regrets. My choices likely wouldn't work for another person but they do work for me and if the sacrifices weren't suppose to be worth it, well I failed to get that memo.
                Ranch of Last Resort


                • #28
                  There is a local lady here who has 3 young children and events. She competes a lot and organizes our area's 2 horse trials. I have no idea how she does it, but I do know she has a TON of energy! And a very supportive family.

                  She has told me that she has learned to let some things slip . . .the housework for one! She would be the first to tell you that you cannot have and do it all. At least, not at the same time.

                  One thing stands out in this thread and that's how not much has changed for women in the past 20 years or so. My youngest is 17. We are an adoptive family and when we were in the process of adopting her from China, I met a LOT of other moms in our area (Seattle, at the time) through our adoption group. One of the moms was an attorney at a large firm in Seattle. So was her husband. Once they decided to adopt, she started looking for a mentor within her circle who had successfully combined being a great lawyer AND a great mom. Obviously that is subjective to what she was looking for, but she basically said that she couldn't see how it was possible. Something about billable hours and the time she would be expected to put in at the firm. Either time at work or time with the children had to give. And horses weren't part of the equation!

                  And you really don't know, until you actually have the child, how you are going to feel about all the stuff you think you know now. Another friend, who loved her job and career, had a plan in place for childcare, informed her husband on the plane back from China that he could sack the nanny. She wasn't going back to work! LOL

                  If you want children, you will work it out. It might not end up like you envision it right now, but you can't really KNOW the road ahead anyway.

                  I like the idea of thinking about this backwards . . . imagine looking back at your life. Would you feel like you had missed something if you didn't have children?


                  • #29
                    I have been managing to "do it all" and things have been working out well. I work full time as the executive director of a nonprofit. I have a young horse and do about 6 shows/year plus clinics. My days are full though! I get up around 5am and my 6 year old daughter gets up early and hangs out with me for a bit. I head to barn around 6-6:30 depending on daylight, ride, and them I'm back home around 8am to get ready for work. I drop my daughter off at school at 9am, get to work by 9:15, work until 5:15, and then pick her up on the way home. My husband works f/t too - and travels- so she goes to an after school program where she does homework and plays with her friends. Then I'm a focused mommy for the evening where we do dinner, review homework, bath, reading, etc.. My daughter is riding now a bit (yay!) so on Saturday mornings, I school my horse in the arena while she's having her riding lesson. It's way fun. We spend lots of time together on weekends. When I have a show or clinic, she hangs with my husband or, if I'm really getting spoiled, they will come to the show/clinic and video tape my ride. Husband has his hobbies too, so we negotiate who is doing what on weekends. He golfs and often takes her along with him. She likes to play and drive the cart. For us - it works.


                    • #30
                      I have a daughter about to turn two in a couple weeks. I tried going back to work as the manager of a national retail outlet for about 6 months after having her, working 55-60 hours a week. I ended up leaving to stay at home with her.

                      I didn't want kids, she was a surprise. I had actually JUST bought a second horse weeks before finding out I was pregnant. I rode until I was 6 1/2 months pregnant. At that point, it was just too uncomfortable. I did stay at work until 9 months though.

                      I thought going back to work was the sensible thing to do - a second income, money to help support the horses and our daughter. My husband was working long hours in the first year of running his own business. I ended up with very little time to ride - maybe once or twice a week, certainly no time or energy to show. The house was a constant mess, we ate takeout a lot, and I barely had time to play with my daughter after doing the things I actually needed to do. The amount of money I was making wasn't worth the headache, exhaustion, and guilt.

                      Occasionally when I go into the store I ran to purchase something, I briefly miss working. But then I remember what I get to do now and I'm so glad I left. I get to raise my daughter myself, the way I want to, I get to ride 4-6 days a week and go to shows. I did end up leasing out my older horse to someone though. I found that even as a stay-at-home mom it was hard to find time to ride two horses since I don't have regular access to a babysitter. I do also have my current riding horse on full care board for the first time in over 10 years. It was actually quite hard to give control of my horse's care to someone else after doing it myself for so long, but I found a great place and it's been worth it. My husband and I try to eat a late dinner together and generally spend an hour or two each night after she goes to bed together. Sometimes we interact, and sometimes I just sit by him while he does some work he brought home.

                      My husband works long hours sometimes, but he is very supportive of what I do. His mom stayed home to raise him, so he's happy to work while I stay home for our daughter. He watches her so I can go ride and whenever he wants to go do something with friends or whatever, I always make sure he can go.

                      If I had stayed at work, I know I wouldn't be riding much. It just wouldn't have worked for me with the kind of hours I pulled. And dealing with the general public is exhausting itself, not to mention doing it on very little sleep. Every woman, every family is different. You have to discover what is going to work for you, though you aren't going to know that until you are in the middle of everything.


                      • #31
                        Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                        Incredible Invisible


                        • Original Poster

                          Thank you again for all of your responses. You've given me a lot to think about and some ideas on how to make it work.

                          Yes, we're still working through the "whether." I've never had that "my goal in life is to be a mother" mentality, but I'm open to having kids. My husband does want children. Here's the thing - I have quite possibly the most wonderful husband in the world. He supports by riding habit completely, despite the fact that we can't have many nice things because our disposable income goes to horses. He asks for almost nothing for himself. He encouraged me to switch jobs so that I could ride more, even though that means we can't afford for him to switch jobs if he becomes unhappy with his firm. He tells me often that he would love to get to a point where he can make enough that I don't have to work at all. Not that I could ever let that happen without feeling horribly guilty. And now, despite his desire for children, he tells me it's ok that we don't have kids because he doesn't want that to interfere with my riding. I can't ask him to give up that desire, though, and honestly, I can't imagine him not being a dad someday. It would be a great tragedy.

                          From what I've read so far, it sounds like maybe moving to a condo is a good idea for us so that we don't have much yard work to worry about. It also sounds like I need to explore some more creative job options (I would LOVE to teach undergrads). Having my parents nearby, as well as not having an hour commute to the barn seem to be musts. I've never been someone who likes to go to tons of shows, so 2-3 a year would be just fine with me.

                          On a larger scale, I agree that the idea of truly "having it all" is a myth. Having worked in the firm for years, I witnessed how well-regarded it was for men to leave to pick up kids or attend a soccer game, but the same behavior from women was seen as a lack of commitment. Even from other women. I could talk about (and have) this issue for hours. I feel like the only way for things to change will be for women in positions of power to stop pretending like they can have it all with no compromises and start being realistic and fostering change. I also firmly believe that the most important job a person can have is to be a parent. It should come second to none.

                          Maybe exvet and dharma can move to Ohio and help me. :-)


                          • #33
                            Thanks for starting this thread - I know there have been similar threads, but it's something that's been on my mind lately as my husband and I plan a family at some point. Our plans, or lack thereof, were put on the backburner the last few months after losing my dad. But it's good to see so much input about how to try to balance children and riding. Will refer to this in the future!
                            Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.

                            A Voice Halted


                            • #34
                              A group of college friends of mine all arranged to buy houses on the same street and all had kids at about the same time. They tended to have dinners together and their kids all played together. I think that's one path towards more coherent family with a two-career household - having a strong, local, trusted network.
                              If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


                              • #35
                                It's all about priorities. What happens to a lot of riders and parents is that their priorities change after having kids and they're not willing to make sacrifices they once made without a second thought. That's not to say it's good or bad, it's just about what you weight as "necessary" in your life. I have 2 kids (4 and 8) and have ridden and shown more in the last 8 years than ever before in my life. I have 6 horses at home and have taken several of my horses through the upper levels of the jumper (not dressage) world.

                                In addition to the horses and kids, I just wrapped up 3 years as a regional manager for a biotech company, which had me flying to the SE (from the NW) 3 weeks a month (I'd fly out on Monday and home on Thursday most weeks). I still managed to show 3 of my horses regularly during the show season, averaging 1 show a month from March through September. Often times I spent my only week at home at a horseshow. But because of the travel schedule, I commuted home from the horseshows every night to make sure that I had dinner with my kids, then got them up and off to school in the morning before heading out to the show for the day. And for many of the shows this meant doing all of that after a 3 hour commute in each direction. It was grueling, but worth the time spent with my kids and the shows done on the horse.

                                I quit my job recently because we were unable to relocate (we were trying to move to NC so that the cross-country commute would be eliminated), and now I'm the VP of a biotech that has me working out of home and traveling only 1 week every month or every other month. Much easier to keep the horses on a regular schedule this way!

                                But really, the key to making it all work? A super, super supportive husband who never objects to handling the kids himself while I'm out riding every. single. day (well, that's not entirely true - during the school year I ride while my son is at school and my daughter is at daycare/preschool). I've said it before and I'll say it again, I don't know how or why he's so willing to allow me to pursue my passion....I'm not sure I could handle it if our roles were reversed. With that being said, I just encouraged him to buy a motorcycle (and no arguing whether he *needed* the expensive one or not!) and I sell a horse every year or two and have paid off things like his car, his credit card bills, and chunks of our mortgage. So it's not like it's all lose-lose for him. And god bless him for having the "happy wife, happy life" mentality

                                Anyhow, my point is that you can have it "all," it's just a matter of defining what "all" means to you. My "all" does not include a clean house or an organized schedule, and it does include riding every single minute I'm not working or spending time with kids....even when that means riding in the rain, cold, dark, etc. There are many days where I question why I have horses and why my parents couldn't have gotten me into hamsters or goldfish instead
                                Flying F Sport Horses
                                Horses in the NW


                                • #36
                                  Maybe exvet and dharma can move to Ohio and help me. :-)

                                  Um, BTDT (lived in OH that is) and after a day in January where a tracker just had to have 5 colts gelded, no other day would do, and my emasculators were literally freezing in the disinfectant/cleaning solution at the end of the session, I decided it was too darn cold.

                                  Have been dedicated to living below the Mason Dixon line ever since but I'm more than willing to lend whatever moral support is needed
                                  Ranch of Last Resort


                                  • #37
                                    Just remember, the longer you wait, the more likely you are to have twins, regardless of family history. Ask me how I know this!


                                    • #38
                                      Originally posted by OhioRiderEsq View Post
                                      Thank you again for all of your responses.
                                      Yes, we're still working through the "whether." I've never had that "my goal in life is to be a mother" mentality, but I'm open to having kids. My husband does want children.
                                      That is one of the tricky things about deciding whether to have kids. You pretty much have to make a decision while you are in your 20's or 30's--while your life is still pretty fun, you are still building your career, etc. etc. So you think, "My life is already pretty great! I don't see the need for kids."

                                      Fast forward to when you are 50 and, quite honestly, I see some people who didn't have kids really quite sad about it. (Not saying this will be true for everyone). Two people in my office will say this expressly. Their life has pretty much been the same for 25 years (work + their hobbies), while parents' lives constantly change with every new stage and adventure of their children.

                                      I'm not trying to push you one way or the other. Parenting is certainly not for everyone. I'm just observing that it is a leap of faith--you are trying to guess what will make you happiest and most satisfied in the long run, and it isn't always easy to see with clarity.


                                      • #39
                                        Here in Sweden it´s common that you get a "helper" that takes care of the horse let´s say 3 days a week. This way the horse get exercise and care and you can do whatever you need those days. In the bigger cities they pay to share your horse in the smaller ones more likely to just help you. There´s a lot of younger people that can´t afford a nice horse and/or don´t want to have the responsability 7 days a week.

                                        I boarded at a place a while ago where a woman had a baby. When she started working again as a sales executive she had a girl in college who rode her horse 3 times per week. This girl had competed dressage with her pony at a pretty high level but couldn´t afford a horse in her situation. The girl also came along to the shows where she sometimes were allowed to compete the horse at a lower level and then the woman did a higher class. it all worked out fine. Maybe there´s someone around where you live who could help you the same way?

                                        I did the same thing working in Stockholm in a position where I certainly couldn´t put in 3 hrs a day at the stables. Then I shared a horse 2 times a week, trailriding one day of the weekend and jumping him once a week. The owner competed him in dressage and took care of the rest of the week.

                                        I don´t think you should give up one or the other just find a way to do it all without getting crazy..


                                        • #40
                                          I can relate to your dilemma - I had always thought I would have children - so I was the "when" and always seemed to attract "whether" men. I struggled with the "having it all" issue. Once I started giving it so much thought I began to lean more towards the "whether" side. I won't go into details, but as it turned out I did not have children. The reason I am sharing this is because you said it would be a tragedy if your husband didn't experience being a father. At least in my experience it is not a tragedy, it really isn't. Most days I am perfectly content. Some days I feel like I dodged a bullet. I'll admit that I do occasionally feel sad about it. There are pros and cons to both options. Having choices is a wonderful thing, but making them can be excruciating - you are smart to seek advice and opinions, it will serve you well, however it turns out.