Finding the Balance

I think a lot about my future life as a wife and mother. It’s a little cart-before-the-horse, but it’s good to consider these sorts of things. Otherwise, you won’t know what to do when the time comes, right?

To my slight chagrin, the stay-at-home life has always appealed to me. I’m just an old-time girl in a 22 year-old’s body, as any of my friends will tell you. However, after years of therapy, work and patience when I was finally able to stop being so dependent on others, I had to wonder – “Is that really a good idea?”

The problem for girls born after the modern feminist movement is that there is a HUGE split between working women and stay-at-home mothers. The former revile the latter as weak-willed, with no life and at the mercy of their bread winning husbands. The latter shake their heads in self-satisfied pity that these women have become so wrapped up in their work that they missed out on the “truly important” things in life. The sad thing is both of these points of view have legitimacy. The idea of being a soccer mom in Tigard is revolting to me. But I also look terrible in a lady’s work suit with a bluetooth strapped to my ear, pounding down cosmos at happy hour (okay, the happy hour part I don’t look so bad in). So there is a great deal of anxiety: how do I find my middle ground in this controversial issue?

Luckily, I’ve got some smart people in my life. I remember with pride Douglas’ comment that I would make an excellent wife or house wife or something like that someday. When discussing “A Room of Her Own” by Virginia Woolf with Michael and worrying that she had a very legitimate point – that I needed my own place and, er, 300 pounds a month? to be a truly independent woman while still successfully paired with my husband – he wisely pointed out that while I may never be bringing home the bank roll statements, my talents were enough to create a balance of gifts in a home. Of course, on the other hand, Chris has pointed out that I really shouldn’t bank on getting married as my 401k plan.

So what the hell do I do now. Not that it particularly matters what I do RIGHT at this moment, since I’m not getting married and there’s scant chance of that happening in the foreseeable future. But I had another thought as I piled my dirty laundry into the washer, expertly tapping out the proper detergent as I have done for many a year. The thought was “I will gladly wash your clothes and cook your meals and clean your house, because those are the things I’m good at.” Cause – in case you hadn’t noticed – I’m not really good at the rat race. Not that my job performance is poor, of course not. Just that….I wasn’t really built for it. I don’t understand it, or what to do, or how to get in and get ahead. It’s a mystery to me. So if you can do that, and mow the lawn, I can do my thing and write my books or make my soaps and HOPEFULLY contribute to the household income in some meaningful way that I actually have some sort of aptitude for.

This does not solve the issue of where that balance between work and home-work lies, but for that, we have more wise advice, this time from a woman. My Aunt Suzanne had a niece long before I came on the scene – a smart, capable, well-educated girl who almost had the world open its doors to her and put her on the road to success. But she was afraid – and if you keep up with this blog at all, it’s a feeling I can sympathize with greatly. And so instead she married some cowboy and I think she has like seven kids now? A lot. And….well, she’s not doing so well. Not so well at all.

“Never get married,” Auntie Suzanne says, “because you don’t know what else to do.”

It may be I’ll be bouncing a bundle on my knee in five or ten or who-knows-how-many years time, balancing the vacuum with the spatula – but it won’t be because I thought my back was to the wall and it was my only out. THAT is the only thing business savvy women should be pitying, or home-bound mothers scolding.

And luckily, I have all those smart people I mentioned above that always manage to guide me out of any stupid decisions like that.


About emilydnelson

A recent graduate of Hofstra University with a B.A. in anthropology, Emily is like every other twenty-two year old on the planet - trying to figure out what the hell to do now. Follow as she struggles with writing, her social work job, and bopping from coast to coast.
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One Response to Finding the Balance

  1. Kurt says:

    Your Aunt Suzanne and cousin Andrea are two very bright women.
    And it is tougher to be a woman than a man–the world is divided unevenly for women; you can do the bright stuff as well as men, but only women can have children. Existential thought might suggest that it isn’t real and all we do is pass on DNA. But we do that through women.

    Hang in there, Em! I am proud of the person you have become and are becoming.

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