Katy Read left her full-time job as a reporter in 1996 to raise her two sons and remains grateful for all the moments she didn't miss as they grew up. That's the good news. Here's the bad: "Now I lie awake at 3 a.m., terrified that as a result I am permanently financially screwed," she writes in Salon. Not only is she trying to re-enter the workforce as a newly divorced single mom at a time when nobody's hiring, she's discovering that her biggest liability in the eyes of employers is that 14-year gap she spent with her sons. "This is not a plea for sympathy. More like a warning from the front lines."
It's a warning that Read never got, especially about the long-term consequences, and she predicts that our current economic mess will further shrink women's interest in "opting out" of the full-time workforce. "However emotionally rewarding it may be for all involved, staying home with children exacts a serious, enduring vocational toll that largely explains the lingering pay gap between men and women as well as women's higher rate of poverty." Her advice for new moms pondering the choice: Don't do it. Click for the full column. (Read more single parenting stories.)