4/13/15: Parenthood/Career: Choose One

So, I’ve never really considered myself much of a feminist- I’ve gone between vehemently hating feminism to almost calling myself one, and now I just avoid the word altogether and replace it with “humanist” because I find it more pacifistic and inclusive. I’ve never found gender to play a significant role in my life and identity… until yesterday.

So, or quite some time, I’ve been having a lot of feelings about my purpose in life, and feeling my time to change the world slipping away. I always thought I felt this way because death is imminent and I wanted to create something lasting before I died.

However, at age 15, my sense of urgency for purpose and meaning seemed a little premature; after all, if everything goes according to plan, I should hopefully be chugging along with full mental capacity for at least another 50 years. So why am I so concerned, in the scheme of my life plan, with accomplishing now?

I was talking to my boyfriend yesterday when I figured it out. Context: we were discussing the hypothetical situation of us having kids and how we would both work and raise them well (we like to discuss hypotheticals more than normal, I think. We are both raging idealists). I realized then, something I’d never thought before: as a woman, I expected a career and child raising to be mutually exclusive; that when I bore my first child, that was it. That would be the end of my productivity.

You see, I was raised in a family with a stay-at-home mother and a full-time working father who rarely spent time with us kids or tried to get to know us. My mother, in contrast, devoted everything to us (and she’s absolutely amazing). As a child and teenager, I’ve always wanted to do for my kids what my mother has done for me. Growing up with a distant father, I figured the parenting role wasn’t something that could be shared; it had to be one parent or the other. I also thought you could pick career or parenthood as a woman, and I would pick parenthood.

My boyfriend comes from a very different family, with a stay-at-home father and a working mother. As we were talking, he began to debunk all of my previous beliefs that I had to choose, and that I couldn’t both be a productive member of society and also be an amazing mother to my children.

Now, I’m not going to equate this to the patriarchal tendencies of our society, because I don’t think that’s what this is about. This is really about the effect that our parents and the way our childhood households work have on our conceptions of the way the world works. As a teenager branching out of home life, I never thought I carried the residue of my familial structure like I do.

This is mostly a lesson in awareness, and learning how to view the way you grew up from an objective lens. Breaking out of our childhood life structure is not an easy thing to do, especially in terms of gender, religion, and certain values or deep-seated beliefs that dictate public and personal life.

This is a process of learning what things you took as a child to be irrevocably true and challenging them. When you find yourself becoming aware of a worry or problem, try to look for the root of it: what, in your life, told you that you couldn’t do something/be someone/believe something?

Whether you decide to accept or reject what you were led to believe is perfectly okay. There are beautiful, important childhood lessons that many people choose to hold onto because they create positive outcomes in adult life. However, there are “truths” that you must eventually break free of and grow out of in order to truly thrive and escape from worries and concerns.

Will I be a working parent? I don’t know. But I do know, now, that I have the option to check both boxes, and I don’t have to mimic my family structure in the future. I still have all that time to be productive and live up to my potential, and I’m not under a 12-year time crunch. And for me, that’s pretty monumental.

8 thoughts on “4/13/15: Parenthood/Career: Choose One

  1. A feminist is someone who believes in the equal rights for men and women. It’s called feminism rather than meninism or humanism because throughout history things that were feminine were seen as weak or undesirable. (Ex: You hit like a girl!) Just a note. 🙂

    I agree with you on the subject of wanting to be a good mother and have a career. My mother was a stay at home mom until my youngest brother started Kindergarten and now she works full time. And she’s an excellent mother. If I have kids, I’ll probably end up doing the same thing as her, provided my future spouse has a good paying job. 🙂

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    1. You’re completely right. The term “feminism” is absolutely correct in meaning equality. I’ve just noticed that, at least where I live, feminism is often equated with female supremacy or values that I don’t align with (putting men down for feminine gain), and I’ve found that identifying as humanist is easier for me in my community to get the point across. But if the word feminism works for you, that’s great! That’s a fantastic plan, and hopefully what I plan on doing. If not working full time, I’ll at least try to write while I have children. Thanks for commenting!

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  2. Really cool article here. Enjoy you pointing out this “now I just avoid the word altogether and replace it with “humanist” because I find it more pacifistic and inclusive” that’s what I’ve been saying for a while. Rather than it being about man or woman we’re really all human and why not focus on equality for all

    There’s definitely a change in the gender stereotypes i.e. male being the sole provider after kids and it should be a horses for courses i.e. based on each situation but discussed..

    Gee still blowing me away given the fact that you’re only 16, or nearly.. Interesting to hear you say “change the world slipping away” as well.. If this is a big life goal of yours, which is sounds like it is, I’m sure you’ll get there.. A lot of people say that overnight success was 10 years in the making 🙂

    Keep blogging you’re great at it!

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    1. I completely agree. Even though “feminism” means gender equality, it’s come to mean so many things that I can’t really relate to the word without someone skewing the definition, so instead I leave it at humanism. Thank you so much!

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  3. I too often find myself feeling this way! However, just like you have, I have realised that there is no need to be stuck in this mindset, and I don’t need to look far for an example of a successful mother, who didn’t abandon her career goals – my mum stayed at home with me and my sisters for nine years, and gradually began working as we got older.
    I will not stop repeating how much I love these posts of yours, where you share your views of the world! Please keep writing them 🙂

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    1. That’s what I plan on doing, I think. I’d like to be around when the kids are little, but gradually go to part-time and then full-time as they progress through grade school. Who knows, maybe I can be a writer as I raise young kids! That’s the current plan. Thank you so so much, it really means a lot to me! You always make my day :).

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  4. Came across your blog, I must say you’ve got a quite blog as a 16, and those posts I went through are definitely great, love it lot.

    So I was wondering, since we’re a platform where people write, share and gain rewards (also you can promote your blog for free), do you like to become a contributor and share something on our site? Here you can find more details: http://www.enkivillage.com/topic:activity/page I look forward to your reply. Cheers =)

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