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Yesterday was the first day in forever that I didn’t have to work.  It was wonderful.  I cleaned the house and made a lemon chiffon pie.  Then A and I took a drive down toward Coney Island, stopped at Spumoni Gardens to grab a pizza, and came home to watch Game of Thrones.

It was pretty much a perfect day.  The kind of day that made me think, I’d be happy doing this every day.  Except that would mean I’d be pretty much a stay at home wife.  And wouldn’t that mean I’d somehow failed?

I feel like women of my generation are supposed to want the high powered career, to become the Fortune 500 CEO or the partner with the corner office or the next Secretary of State.  Between the Anne-Marie Slaughter article and the Cheryl Sandburg book, it’s starting to seem like even though we were told we had choices, we were expected to go down the career path.  Which, in its own way, is as strange as telling women their place is in the home.*

I’ve seen a bunch of theories lately about how to keep women in the work force.  They range from tax incentives (treat child care as a fully deductible expense) to work/life balance suggestions (don’t schedule meetings after school hours).  The problem is that all these suggestions go toward disguising the fact that the American workplace is inherently un-family-friendly, rather than implementing the kind of structural value change that would give women – and men – the ability to have both meaningful careers and rich family lives.

Maybe, then, we’re looking at this the wrong way.  What if women are leaving the work force because they aren’t interested in playing by the same rules that men do?  What if women would rather opt out of the system — some by starting their own businesses, some by staying home with the kids — because they don’t buy in to the corporate ethos in this country?

What if the solution is not for women to lean in, but to drop out?

Let the men run the rat race if they want to.  Let them pile up money they don’t have time to spend.   Let them miss the baseball games and the school plays.  And maybe, by the time I have daughters who are the age I am now, the question won’t be why women can’t have it all.  It will be why it took men so long to figure out that there was a better way for everyone.

*If this sounds familiar, it’s because I’ve written about the subject of women in the workforce before.