Recently, a possibly tragic event took place: a highly educated young woman I know got married. Radiant in her delicate lace dress, full of joy and optimism about the future, this blushing bride was not yet aware of the reality of her situation: that she has been groomed through her many years of education to be, well, the groom – and this fact is very likely to cause friction for her and her family as she tries to achieve the deepest hopes and dreams of her heart
I wanted to get married and have children, and I deeply believed that children needed their mommies. On the other hand, I also had a great burden on my shoulders – the weight of my as-yet unfulfilled career “potential”. I wanted to put my expensive, extensive and exclusive education to “good use” and to make something of myself in the world, not just at home. In some ways I felt like Frodo carrying the Ring of Power – what will I do with this career potential of mine? Any high school dropout can stay at home with children – but a successful career is not easily achieved or thrown away.
This is a very difficult dilemma for many young women today. The higher women climb on the education ladder, the harder it is for many of them to get off the track. There are several reasons for this, including the years of invested sweat and money, as well as the deeply-held career goals that have been created over years of academic success, but which clash in reality with the role of a wife and mother
I wish that as I was growing up, the role of wife and mother had been more fully present as a respectable and important option that also needs time and training, not just an afterthought that automatically tacks on to a career. Much of the skill set I acquired in university is not very useful in the home. Although I know how to write legal briefs, I wish I knew how to sew, play family songs on the piano and cook without a cookbook, and even that I was more familiar with caring for little ones and for a busy household. All the chores I was protected from in order to enable me to study as I was growing up – maybe I should have done them after all, including some babysitting. I want to give these experiences to my daughter, so that she will be better equipped not just for a career, but also for motherhood.
But where feminism has confused women, it has made us dream that we are the same as men. Men are not mothers, and children don’t need them in the same way as they will inevitably need us. So if we want to have children, we can’t pretend to be men in our career plans and aspirations. Do we really want to have someone else caring for our homes and our children? It does not have to be that way. We need to embrace a model of life success that is less career-oriented and more family-centered. Giving of oneself to others, while it comes without diplomas, year-end bonuses and frequent-flyer miles, is just as worthy and important as building up one’s own career.
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