Thanks for the option

I just couldn’t help myself. What a motto! “Freeze your eggs, Free your career!”

You’ve probably heard that (by January, 2015) Facebook and Apple are offering to cover egg-freezing costs as part of their employee benefits. I have mixed feelings about this. (You’re like, “Welcome to the club, captain obvious.” I get it.)

Women, theoretically, have many options: Be a mom, don’t be a mom, be a mom early, be a mom late, be a stay-at-home mom, a part-time-work mom, a full-time-work mom. It’s an emotional minefield, driven by conscious and subconscious perceptions of what’s “expected” of you (from society, your own experience, your religion, what have you). It can be a double-edged blend of selfishness (what do “I” want) and selflessness (what’s “best” for the family/children).

I’m not going to deconstruct all that, because in my personal opinion, there’s no right answer. You’ve got to weigh all those factors, do what’s best for you, and do the best you can.

I do sincerely applaud Facebook and Apple for supporting some of the many choices a woman can make. But here’s the thing that sticks in my craw – why aren’t those options equally financially supported? Purposefully or accidentally, this decision deems that some of those options are ok but not all.

The overall point is to support and maintain an effective female workforce, right? So why doesn’t it work like this: $20k for your choice. Better yet – don’t force women to specify/justify that decision to their employer. Have this lump sum go into a flex account that can be used as they see fit:

  • Get $20k to freeze your eggs.
  • Get $20k for childcare**
  • Get $20k to spend money to save time (laundry services, housecleaning, chef, errands, etc)
  • Get $20k towards surrogacy, infertility treatments, or adoption expenses
  • Get $20k towards maternity leave (that is nearly always unpaid, by the way)
  • And – last but absolutely not least – get $20k even if you choose not to have children.

I know this is a sticky topic. I’m not saying there’s a right answer. I’m just saying that let’s not stop here. Apple/Facebook/Google/Microsoft, like it or not, are models that the rest of tech looks up to. In a time where flexibility attracts the best young talent, let’s support women making their own choices. Imagine the potential: What if you made yourself a company where the most talented women in the world were beating down the doors to join you?

** My sources tell me that this might cover a year – year and a half of childcare. If this allows a woman to keep her job after having a child, her earning potential would likely continue/increase over that time. That way, by the time the lump sum is used up, wouldn’t she in a better place to afford the childcare after that?

30

Dan's cake

In marriage, I’ve found I use the “royal we” for things, even when the experience falls primarily on the other person. “We’re” job-searching. “We” just defended our thesis. “We” are low-carb. You can’t help but be affected by the spouse – it could be a small habit (“I don’t like regular milk any more” turned into “we drink almond milk”) to a huge life decision. For example, when my husband defended his Ph.D. I truly felt like it was a “we” process. I had stopped working at that point, so I was the audience for every practice talk, the sounding board for every graphic, the therapist for every anxiety, and the sharer in every celebration.

So even though it’s weird, when my husband turned 30 this week, I feel like “we” turned 30. In truth I have 6 more months to go, but I’ve already switched from “twenty-somethings” to “thirty-somethings” in normal conversation. Pretty strange, right? Why am I so willing to throw myself into the 30s bucket when I have friends who will be celebrating 28 for at least another few years?

Your twenties are hard – much harder than you ever expect. You begin an independent life away from your parents and lingering high school habits. You do some really stupid stuff that you regret as you realize that you aren’t the center of the universe. Your personality grows, develops, and changes. If you are like me, you fail at something – really, adult fail – for the first time in your life.

But – all of these difficult things lead to incredible personal development. If you’ve accomplished so much, why would you want to stay in a decade with so much turmoil? I’m actually excited to be 30. I feel that I’ve earned it. I think 30 is an exciting phase – the perfect balance of centered open-ness. I’m still energetic, hopeful, and open to learning new things, but I don’t have the same nagging naiveté of inexperience. I know more about myself, so my deviations and explorations are more focused and (hopefully) productive.

I’m sorry to fly in the face of all those birthday-haters out there, but cheers, 30 – here I come.