Thursday, October 14, 2004

Not June Cleaver

In case you missed 60 Minutes last Sunday...

The trend for moms to stay home:
Could it really be that this generation of women, the first to achieve success without having to fight for it, is now walking away, willingly, and without regrets?

Why it matters:
"These are the women that would have gone into the jobs that run our world. These were the women who would eventually have become senators, governors. These women would have been in the pipeline to be CEOs of Fortune 500 companies," says Hirshman.

None of this is news. I've come across many similar articles and books over the last year in my exploration of stay-at-home-cum-work-at-home mommyhood.

At 60 Minutes, however, they begin to ask questions of employers:
"The right question is, how do we change to keep this talent active and involved with us?"

For some reason the segment made me all weepy. I'm not quite one of those moms, but part of me wishes I were, and another part wonders why I'm not, and another part wonders why I think any of this is a big deal.

It's been a tough week. J-F was on strike a few days, so after a morning's picketing he'd pick up Helena from daycare, and both would come home, bursting in on my workday. Another deadline is looming.

More weepiness this morning was inspired by Literary Mama, which this month revolves around the theme of desiring motherhood.

One mother struggles for identity in the suburbs (and does not revolve around desiring motherhood), and it's just painfully sad.

Another (who blogs here) grapples with miscarriage. Oddly, though I've never had a miscarriage, there's something rather metaphorical about "misconceptions" that I feel I can relate to.

She writes:
I felt like the pain was deliberate, a message, someone tapping me on the shoulder and whispering, "It's time for me to be born."

Perhaps I'm a fatalist after all. I don't know where to start in conveying my sense that Helena was meant to be. That I was meant to find my own path in this way so that later I can guide her.

Yet another (who blogs here) examines the recent spate of celebrity moms, and our (new moms? moms of a certain age or socioeconomic background?) obsession with them. Oddly, though it's the most light-hearted of these stories, it's in some ways the angriest, the scariest, the most confusing, the most real.

But I also want to warn her that she can never go backwards on the path — to the person she was before. And that is scary. I want to warn her that there are dark days ahead, mixed in along with the light. And that is frustrating. I want her to know that life can be a balancing act when you are suddenly responsible for someone else's needs that are at times greater than your own. And that is overwhelming, confusing, and complicated.


This morning I also read an article (via Maud Newton) about "Silly Novels by Lady Novelists," which made me want to be a good consumer and go buy some.

Chick Lit. . . tosses the role-modeling of ideal women straight out the window. Instead, the subject becomes the mundane workaday world, the world in which we care about our stupid bosses, self-absorbed boyfriends, still fitting into that pair of jeans, and whether we have a prayer in hell of having the kinds of magazine-cover lives we keep being told we can have if only we can manage to get it all right.


Michele, meanwhile, opines about choosing not to have children.

This also makes me weepy, because that used to be me.

I have never chosen. And in this passivity, perhaps I am more June Cleaver than I care to admit, than any of my contemporaries.

When I left home for university, it was to a school and in a city I did not choose; this choice was governed by my mother. I did not choose my major so much as it naturally evolved around my whims and preferences. I did not choose most of my boyfriends; they chose me. The same is true of my girlfriends for that matter. I did not choose my career; jobs, some decent, some not, came and went — I fell into my profession and it fit well. I have not even chosen my vacations; I would asked my travel agent where I could go for this much money, and I went.

I did not choose to start a family, and there was none of the associated planning of schedules and finances; it just kind of happened.

And all of this makes me feel a little weepy.

Perhaps I need to choose something.
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