I have a COBRA letter sitting on my desk, and it’s been there for weeks, pressuring me to decide whether I’m 100% sure I want kids. And if so, like, when?
I quit my job this summer, moved to Chicago, and took contract positions. I’m so glad. The timing was pretty good as far as my skill level, and I’m working plenty. I can definitely afford health insurance, but maybe not health insurance with a pregnancy rider. I’ve got to spend more time comparing the prices to my budget.
So, COBRA seems like it might be a good choice. If I want to get pregnant within the next five months.
18 months of coverage, minus nine months of pregnancy, minus the three months that will have already passed by the time I make this decision, minus a month for whatever I’m not considering.
Five months to figure it out, or else I’ll have to wait a year to be eligible for the coverage I’d be paying out the nose for with a pregnancy rider. I’ll be 32 in December. I want to stay independently employed for a while and maybe launch a company next year.
I’ve been thinking about these things for a month or so, but this weekend, a shit storm erupted online over Penelope Trunk’s TechCrunch post, “Women Don’t Want To Run Startups Because They’d Rather Have Children.”
It’s really a remix of previous posts (I’ve been a reader of hers for a year or so) about how women do not need to put off children for their careers, plus news about her startup’s recent move, wherein she chose to stay put and be with her family.
I tried looking up research to determine how valid Penelope’s assertion is regarding the genetic cliff of age 35, but I didn’t find much. Only a couple articles related directly to the question, one of which contained a grammatical error that would make me want to scrutinize the site a bit more before I would trust anything on it. (Here’s the better one.) I checked Mayo Clinic’s site, and age was mentioned as a factor in fertility.
Look, Penelope’s strengths are not careful use of statistics or diplomatic wording of her ideas. Her strength is juxtaposing career-related trends in innovative ways, or in pragmatic ways. Like, maybe Power Point slides about your sex life are not as bad as people are making them out to be, or maybe it’s really not worth reporting sexual harassment. Except she usually leaves out the “maybe.” I walk away from her posts with a look-up list, not a to-do list.
So, the TechCrunch article lacks nuance, and it doesn’t apply to everyone. But for those of us who do want children, who weren’t anywhere near the top of the ladder by 27, and who are considering starting our businesses and our families at the same time, it’s a point of reference.
Exactly how hard is this going to be? From a project management standpoint, am I scheduling my newborn sleepless nights at the same time as my 100-hour weeks? If I’m not with my husband or my future husband yet, am I leaving myself enough hours in my week for a social life that will let me find him? Where are my hacks for these issues?
I’m simply not going to stand for anyone telling me it’s taboo to discuss these questions on the internet. I don’t care if they are women entrepreneurs with kids.
The “worst article on the internet ever”? “You’ve taken us back 50 years”? Let’s take it down a notch, people. By reacting with such vitriol, you could be shutting down women for whom these issues are relevant. By reacting with hysteria, you are not representing yourselves well to the venture capitalists you’re so concerned about.
If feminism were that fragile that one article could set it back so much, we would have bigger problems than one author. Are people really angry because it’s detrimental to the cause, or because it cuts on a personal level?
I’d like to see more discussion about how to structure a startup that works better with a family. I know that people end up losing their marriages and being heartbroken over missing their kids. Please, please don’t make them jump through PC hoops of fire to share those experiences.
I don’t want to hear about how “but she shouldn’t speak for all women, so that gives me the right to curse at her on Twitter or call her a disgrace.” That’s high school, and I don’t have time for it. I want to hear about what works.