The Malnourished Housewife
Lately, I've been listening to many podcasts and radio segments about women in the workforce.
Simultaneously, I am living these challenges as I try to re-enter the workforce after taking time off to raise and homeschool my children.
Intelligence Squared, one of the podcasts I enjoyed most recently, highlighted my problem perfectly in their debate, "The Hand that Rocks the Cradle Cannot Rock the Boardroom." It included a panel of women debating the success of mothers in high level positions. One panelist remarked that in order to succeed we, as women, must simply be hungry enough for success. Another disagreed saying that she thought the problem was that women are too hungry. We try to have it all and inevitably fail.
I think, in a sense, both of these women are correct. Listening and reflecting on their comments I have come to realize, I'm not just hungry, I'm malnourished.
I want to eat, but I don't know what to eat. I am ready to devour my future, but will likely throw it up immediately because I ate too quickly too much and probably the wrong thing.
While I sat at home with my appetite growing, raising my children, I didn't really plan well for myself. Apparently being a freelance writer is really not where a career is at. I thought it would pan out, or at least look significant enough on my resume to say, "Hey, this lady's been working hard at staying relevant." For the record, it does not. I had a hard time planning while being at home with my children, because I just could not see that far ahead of myself.
I had this idea that something would present itself; pop up in front of me and I would start happily working toward all of my dreams; things would somehow fall into place.
The thing is, I can see my future in various different ways. I could work at a coffee shop happily, I could work at a yarn store, writing for myself in my spare time. I could work in a professional setting. I could work in an office or really, wherever, they all have pros and cons. This lack of direction on my part makes it hard to seriously pursue anything. And therein lies part of my problem.
I don't know what I want to be when I grow up.
Another part of the problem is that the truth is, as a woman, a wife and a mother, there is no I, there is only we.
I will always be first and foremost a mother. My teenage children need a present and participating parent. They need someone to pick them up from school, to make dinner to take them to activities. They need me.
If it were simply a question of work ethic, I would happily throw myself into a career; a 40-hour week job. But it isn't. I need a future, but a flexible one. Unfortunately for women who have not worked in the profession field for 14 years, flexibility is not on the negotiating table.
Finally, I need a dream.
I need to reconnect with 19 year old me, revisit her dreams and see if they are a reality for 36 year old me. Dreaming for myself is easy enough. Dreaming for us is a different story.
I have realized being ravenously hungry for success, a career, and my future is not enough. I need a food pyramid for success detailing exactly how to balance my family, our life and my future.
If you have one of those, please send it my way. I'm ready to eat, I just don't know where or how to start.
Want to read more about my family and our adventures? Follow me at MerryHell.