I finally read this article by Sandra Tsing Loh
I’ve been working fulltime since September 1977. That’s 32 years by my reckoning. Long time. Not all at the same place, but here and there across the country. Mostly here.
I remember the day I realized that I would be a working woman, for it was a decision I made, not one that I fell into. I was 12. I used to watch the tv show, One Day at a Time. The main character was Ann Romano, a divorced mother of two young daughters, who suddenly found herself alone after her husband left her for a younger woman. It was a comedy, which was what caught my attention as a kid, but it appealed to my budding sense of what becoming a women meant, and, maybe more importantly, what it meant by being a man. It was one of my more favourite shows as a child.
What I remember thinking to myself as I watched this television show through the early 1970s, was that I could very well find myself happily married one day, but who’s to say that will last? What if he leaves? What will happen to me if I don’t have a job, can’t take care of myself? I will be like Ann Romano, starting all over again. And she wasn’t the only heroine that I saw when I looked to popular culture. It was the beginning of skyrocketing divorce rates. For my parent’s, it was “until death did they part” after almost 50 years together. Television has no influence on children, eh?
Now, most of the stories that were told were success stories of women who had overcome, maybe gone to graduate school and found a new life after he left, etc, etc. But I didn’t want to have to overcome
What is it about looking for what you get?
So, I’ve been working fulltime for 30.5 years. I had a whole year off when my first daughter was born. That was beautiful. I’ve been a stay at home mother and it was fun. Even the cleaning was easy. Lots of time. I read and read and read. The other mothers were a bit off, I never felt like I fit. Maybe because I knew I was going back to work and arranging for quality daycare was my main concern. And I found it. Close, convenient, my daughter loved it, and they loved her. Children thrive in quality day care.
When my second daughter was born, 8 years later, I wasn’t so fortunate. I went back to work after 5 months after my husband was laid off. We ended up separating and since then it’s been work, work, work. And good thing I can, too, because I’ve had to.
I bought Hirshmann’s book, the one that Loh refers to in her article. My daughter picked it up from my table and took it home to read. She’s a young professional working woman, newly married and wasn’t so taken with Hirshmann’s argument either, mainly for the same reasons as Loh. As a social worker, she sees that not everyone enjoys the fiscal benefits of a professional job. But she’s being working herself since she was 17, graduated from university free from debt and able to fund her own graduate education.
I’m all for choice, but choose your choice wisely.
Choice? What choice? Life just happens….