Senior Government Official Quits Dream Job to be with Kids

Senior Government Official Quits Dream Job to be with Kids

Princeton Professor Anne Marie Slaughter had spent her entire adult life dreaming about this job… and now it was hers. She had been appointed 1st female Director of Policy Planning at the US State Department.

The only problem was that while she was working night and day in Washington, her 14-year-old and 12-year-old sons whom she had left back in Princeton were struggling.

Like Mary Matalin, another senior government drop-out who explained, “I finally asked myself, ‘Who needs me more?’ And that’s when I realized, it’s somebody else’s turn to do this job. I’m indispensable to my kids, but I’m not close to indispensable to the White House,” Slaughter realized as well that her boys didn’t only need a Dad, even a super-dedicated one. They needed a mom too…

Here is what Slaughter wrote for the Atlantic about her difficult decision to choose her children over her dream career:

One of the most complicated and surprising parts of my journey out of Washington was coming to grips with what I really wanted.

I had opportunities to stay on, and I could have tried to work out an arrangement allowing me to spend more time at home…

But I realized that I didn’t just need to go home. Deep down, I wanted to go home.

I wanted to be able to spend time with my children in the last few years that they are likely to live at home, crucial years for their development into responsible, productive, happy, and caring adults. But also irreplaceable years for me to enjoy the simple pleasures of parenting—baseball games, piano recitals, waffle breakfasts, family trips, and goofy rituals.

My older son is doing very well these days, but even when he gives us a hard time, as all teenagers do, being home to shape his choices and help him make good decisions is deeply satisfying.

The flip side of my realization is captured in Macko and Rubin’s ruminations…:

“If we didn’t start to learn how to integrate our personal, social, and professional lives, we were about five years away from morphing into the angry woman on the other side of a mahogany desk who questions her staff’s work ethic after standard 12-hour workdays, before heading home to eat moo shoo pork in her lonely apartment.”

Seeking out a more balanced life is not a women’s issue; balance would be better for us all.

Bronnie Ware, an Australian blogger who worked for years in palliative care and is the author of the 2011 book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, writes that…the second-most-common regret was “I wish I didn’t work so hard.” She writes: “This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship.”

Juliette Kayyem, who several years ago left the Department of Homeland Security soon after her husband, David Barron, left a high position in the Justice Department, says their joint decision to leave Washington and return to Boston sprang from their desire to work on the “happiness project,” meaning quality time with their three children…

It’s time to embrace a national happiness project. As a daughter of Charlottesville, Virginia, the home of Thomas Jefferson and the university he founded, I grew up with the Declaration of Independence in my blood.

Last I checked, he did not declare American independence in the name of life, liberty, and professional success. Let us rediscover the pursuit of happiness, and let us start at home.

Here is a 5-minute interview with Slaughter about her difficult decision. 3 JewishMOM cheers for Anne Marie Slaughter! And special thanks to JewishMOM Sarah Greenberg for sending this my way:

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4 comments

  1. She is amazing…isnt it inspiring to see that the higher or most dignified positions women get in the professional eorld the mote dignified and modest their dress is?, Her attire and demeanor is so pleasant, so classy, it really gave me chizuk to know that she left a high position to answer a higher valued calling as a mother and her appearance says ” I am dignified, modest, serving mypurpose as a mother and looking like a mensch!”..

  2. Did she quit working completely or did she go back being a professor at Princeton? I think we need some clarity about advocating stay home, which not everyone mother can afford, and having a satisfying job that allows you to provide decent living for your family and have some balance in your life.

  3. She is still a working mom, but has the ability to make her own schedule and work less demanding hours. It’s amazing how much she was willing to give up for her kids. I sometimes wish more mothers would be like that!

  4. I wonder if she made any headlines when she took the job, “Mother of two decides to abandon children for career”. Our world is so backwards…

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