I’ve often second-guessed myself: Did I make a mistake raising my family in the city instead of the suburbs? Should I have tried to have a third child?
Yet one shoulda-coulda-woulda in which I’ve never indulged is parsing whether I made the right decision to work after having kids. I have only to spend time with my sons to realize I made the best choice for our family.
Jed and Rory are kind, loving, witty and industrious young adults. My boys are able to handle all manner of tasks, from putting up pickles to brewing beer — and that’s just in the kitchen. Their competence, I’m convinced, is at least partially fueled by the fact that I encouraged them to take a do-it-yourself approach to decisions and tasks. I simply wasn’t around to micromanage their lives.
I started building my career as a magazine editor when my boys were babies. My work brought me great joy, but there was never any question about what came first: my children. Like the other working moms at the boys’ school who became my dearest friends — because we occasionally spelled each other — I never missed a play, a concert or the chance to be a class mother. Throwing birthday parties, going to doctor appointments, sewing 200 labels into clothes and serving family dinner every night — for more than 20 years, until my youngest son went off to college, I lived out my own mother’s favorite aphorism: If you want something done, ask a busy person.
As my children grew, so did my job. By the time the kids reached the heavy-duty homework stage, I had a demanding job as an editor-in-chief of a large national magazine. Once the dishes were cleared, Jed and Rory decamped to study. Though I doubt they noticed what Mom was doing, I turned to the piles of manuscripts that had followed me home.
I’d be lying if I claimed that the balancing act was easy. Sometimes our child care flatlined and I had to jury-rig alternatives, such as splitting the day with my husband — one of us taking the morning shift, the other, the afternoon. My husband was the puzzle piece that made Team Koslow function more or less smoothly. He was a true, 50-50 partner. Yet even with his help, there were moments when I felt exhausted or frantic, worrying about or simply missing my boys when I was at work. I particularly remember one Halloween when I had to attend a conference in Bermuda. While my childless colleagues saw this as a juicy perk, I’d have traded every grain of pink sand for one glimpse of Rory dressed as Monopoly Man.