Careers

Two comments have been made to me this week that I would love to expound upon, but I just can’t find the time to sit down and really address them as I should. But because I want to get my thoughts out of my head, you’ll have to suffer through my less than thoughtful prose on one of the topics as I stand in my kitchen trying not to burn dinner.

Sitting at one of the kids activities the other day I was chatting with another mom who I keep running into at random places. Somehow we got to talking about how in a few years our youngest were going to be in school full-time, and suddenly we were going to find ourselves “out of a job” so to speak. She asked if I was planning on going back to work then, and I replied “Yes, but I don’t really know what I would do. And given M’s travel and work schedule and my tendencies towards perfectionism, I’m not so sure it would be the best thing for our family. I certainly won’t be going back to my last career, that’s for sure. We couldn’t have two people doing that commute and working 80 hour weeks.”

She nodded and said, “I know! I feel the same way! My husband just wouldn’t be able to be so successful without me at home!” I think I startled a bit, because that wasn’t actually at all what I meant, and it just struck me as so fifties-ish. And then it reminded me of a book I read in one of my graduate school classes called Men and Women of the Corporation. A chapter or two addressed the role of the wife in a successful man’s career, and I remember finding it both fascinating and a bit horrifying, in a Stepford Wives sort of way.

At the point in time that I read that book, I was in graduate school with all intentions of pursuing a career of my own, and engaged to be married to M, who was clearly a career driven individual intent on climbing the corporate ladder. I was actually so intrigued by the topic that I wrote a short paper on it, which I would post for everyone if only I had any idea where all my graduate school work was stashed. I remember being somewhat horrified by the thought that all of these women had devoted themselves to furthering their husbands careers at the expense of their own. I also remember realizing that many of these women had to have been intelligent, capable, organized individuals to keep their households running so seamlessly and provide their husbands with the advice and support they needed to climb that career ladder.

I plan on hunting through the boxes in the attic to find that book so I can re-read that section given my not-so-new anymore role of stay-at-home wife. I have a feeling that I’m going to see a lot more of my current life in those pages then I ever imagined that I would. I do know that as each year passes, more and more of the household responsibilities, which used to be shared more or less equally, fall onto me. Which makes perfect sense in some regards, since I am home and M is generally not. What I don’t know is if we will ever be able to make the transition back to a two career family.

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