Members of the Family Network have varied experiences and outlooks on life. While professional growth and careers are important for some, for others it’s the needs of the home and family. This month we are featuring two of our members, one male, one female, who have chosen to be accompanying spouses and primary care takers. We sent them a questionnaire and they obliged us with their replies.
Tell us about yourself: where do you come from and where have you lived before moving to your current location?
LAURENT- My name is Laurent Cinot and I am French. I lived in France for all my life until we moved to Washington DC in 2014. I lived in DC for 3 years after which we moved to Cameroon in 2016.
KARIN- My name is Karin Lange and I am from Brazil. My husband worked for IFC in São Paulo for seven years and then he was relocated to Washington DC. We have never lived abroad as a couple before this experience. It has been seven years since we moved away from our country.
Did you work before you reached here? In what capacity?
LAURENT - I am a nurse by profession. After we moved to DC and then later to Yaoundé (Cameroon), I have been involved in nonprofit work. Since a year now I have taken a position as consultant for WBFN in the capacity of Regional Champion for Africa.
KARIN - I worked in the private and public sectors as an accountant. After we moved here to DC I had a baby and went on maternity leave. I managed to continue working remotely until my second baby was born. At that point, I decided to take a break from my career and focus on being with my young girls during these crucial developmental years.
Did you know that you might not be able to work in this current location (if this applies) or had you decided that you will not work once you move here?
LAURENT - I knew that it would be very hard to work in DC because I did not speak much English and in Cameroon the salary offered was not sufficiently remunerative because I was offered a local contract. Making the choice to move to DC was a family project and when we made this this decision, I knew I couldn’t necessarily work but that I would be able to take care of my family.
KARIN - As I got my work permit I knew that I could work if I wanted. However, in the family’s best interest, I decided to not work full time until my younger daughter would reach kindergarten. In the meantime, I have been doing some volunteer jobs and working as a Substitute teacher in my daughter’s preschool.
Do you have children?
LAURENT - Yes 4 children, 2 in France for their studies (27 and 18 Years Old), 2 with us 8 and 10 years old.
KARIN - Yes, two daughters, 4 and 6 years old
How do you feel about your current role as the home maker or the primary care giver to the children?
LAURENT - It is an exceptional role because when we work outside the home, we do not have time to watch our children grow up. In my current role I have time to organize a pleasant life for my whole family. I help my wife in her work by smoothing over all material problems.
KARIN - I have been enjoying every aspect of motherhood and I feel privileged to see my kids growing up friendly, beloved, caring and confident.
What are some of the positive aspects of your current role?
LAURENT - To be able to enjoy life!
KARIN - I definitely see that I grew as a human being and I am much stronger than I could have ever imagined. I love when my kids praise me, saying that I am the best mom, best cook and best friend ever. Being with them and doing different activities also helped me connecting with other people and making new friends.
What would you change if you could about your current role?
LAURENT - Nothing this is a wonderful life, people look at you and wonder what your job is, but I don’t need that recognition.
KARIN - I wish I would have more free time for myself.
What words of advice do you have for other spouses/partners in similar positions?
LAURENT – Sometimes accompanying male spouses are viewed in a somewhat non complimentary light because maybe they do not conform to traditional roles but this is merely a social perception. Life is too short not to enjoy it and we are fortunate to be able to do so. So, let’s take advantage of this situation that many people would like to have the chance to live. I want to stress that I lived an extraordinary life dedicated to the well-being of my family and those that I love.
KARIN - I would say to always try to take advantage of the situation that you are going through. But try not to leave behind your long-term goals and dreams. If you want to take a break from your career, be sure that you know what your next steps are. Besides, keep networking and have your CV ready.