My wife is doing some amazing things here in Korea. Thus far, I haven’t talked much about her background other than mentioning that right now she takes care of our son full time. She is a career woman, so for her to give her career up to join me overseas and raise our son was a major sacrifice for her. We both agree that having at least one parent at home, raising our child, is ideal for his personal development. Note–I did not write that it’s best that mom stays at home. I personally believe that the father can stay home with the children if the arrangement works best for the family. Homemaking does not necessarily have to be done by the mother. In most cultures, the mother typically stays at home with the children, although in Scandinavia many fathers choose to stay at home, while a large percentage of Scandinavian mothers work full time. In our case, I am doing the job of my dreams overseas, and my wife and I jointly decided to leave our U.S. jobs and take the expat plunge. If one partner works overseas, the other partner often has few, if any employment options. Thus, my wife initially decided to stay at home with our son. However, with job opportunities plentiful for her in Seoul, she has since changed her mind and been looking for work. Until last year, when we lived in the U.S., my in-laws lived with us and we both worked full time. After we relocated to Northern Virginia, my wife joined me in studying the Korean language (and proceeded to run circles around me learning Korean–it doesn’t hurt that Chinese is her native language, and 65% of Korean vocabulary is derived from Chinese). My in-laws took care of our son until we moved to Korea. My wife did not become a full-time mother and homemaker until she came here.
My wife stayed home full time with our son for about five months. Last month, she started an important project for a local foundation charged with building an international school. She is an accountant by trade and drew up the business plan and financials for the school. The chairman of the Doosan Group, is the head of the foundation. The wife of popular Korean actor Choi Min Soo is director-general of the foundation and has worked closely with my wife to develop the plan and financials. They are both very impressed with her work. She also recently started looking for work in Seoul and now has a good job offer with a global accounting firm. She’s also close to landing other job offers with another well-known accounting firm and a global insurance company. Although the jobs are not quite as prestigious as what she had while working in Seattle, they are excellent overseas opportunities. If we lived in Africa, or in South Asia, she likely would not have such great employment opportunities. It’s great that she apparently will have several employment options and can afford to be choosy. She’s also quickly built up a great network of contacts, which is vital to success in the business world. If you are currently looking for work, don’t rely on Monster.com or a corporate jobs web site to find gainful employment. Your own network of contacts are your best means of finding a good job.
We’ve debated the merits of her working versus staying at home with our son. I am happy to support her career decision. In fact, I’m always quick to point out how talented she is and that she seems happiest when she feels productive. Raising a child properly is crucial, and we’ve heard many moms tell us how rewarding it is to watch your children grow during their formative years, but it’s hard to see the results because a child’s development is ongoing and moves at glacial speed. Unfortunately, we will have to hire a nanny to care for our son during weekdays, and the atmosphere in our home will be more contentious because we will both be rushing to get to work in the morning and will have to coordinate both our schedules with the nanny. It is definitely easier to schedule activities when one parent stays home full time. We’re also concerned that my wife will work too much overtime in a relatively stressful environment. My job is already fairly stressful; hers will compound the stress. We would both prefer that she work a standard 40-hour job in a relatively relaxed work environment. That may not be possible, especially in Korea where employees are infamous for working 12+ hour workdays and on weekends (with little or no overtime pay). On a positive note, she will feel more fulfilled, and the additional income will be nice. Most of her income will go into our investments. We don’t need the extra money–her career is her choice to make. I am thankful that she does not have to work out of necessity.
I may have written more about her than she would like me to write, but I can’t help myself. She is really a very talented person and deserves some kudos for all she’s done.