Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Career and Family: An Understanding
A good friend and I had one of those nearly age-old discussions that only women seem to have: the desire for a family vs. the desire for a career. The two of us are on opposite sides of the lifestyle coin, with her firmly in the career corner and I in the family camp.
She has recently received a promotion at work, which entails extra hours, and is making a name for herself in the volunteer circle of her area (lots of work with women and children empowerment). She likes being busy and having time to herself; in the past couple of years, she has been able to travel Europe, South America, and the US on her own agenda. She spends her money, for the most part, on what she wants to spend it on. Without a steady relationship, mortgage, and children, she is the master of her own fate, and can move, travel, or stay out as late as she wants.
I, in turn, have a gorgeous baby boy, another little on the way, a husband to share our mortgaged home with, and plenty of commitments at home. JP and I have things to save up for, college accounts to add to, and sleeping in late means 8am. My career is my family and home, which mean I don't have a dress code and operate on a timeline that works best for my peace of mind.
Our discussion centered around whether either of us is furthering the cause of women in the 21st century. Neither of us can really buy into the 'women can have it all' mentality: she works because she has loans and rent each month for which she alone is responsible, and I can't afford to work unless it covers the cost of relatively high cost of daycare. What's more, we don't really want the other's life and responsibilities that come with it. After spending the weekend witnessing firsthand what it's like to care for a 13-month old on a minute-to-minute basis, she looked at me and said, "Is it always this hectic and exhausting?" before confessing that she wasn't sure she ever wanted the white picket fence life. The idea of networking and heading out to work in a suit 5 days a week, 10-12 hours a day couldn't sound worse to me.
The beauty is that none of that matters. We chat, we visit, we appreciate the other's daily routine, and get to go home to our own reality at the end of the day. I don't have to have a career outside of the home right now and that doesn't make me a terrible feminist or role model; trust me, I work and test the limits of my patience now more than I did with a paycheck. She doesn't have to wear a wedding ring and pop out babies to show her self-worth or prove she's a woman. The fact that we chose different paths doesn't mean we're at odds; our honest conversations about the struggles and triumphs of our day gives us insight and appreciation for how the other side lives.