What Did You Want to Be When You Grew Up?

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Pssst…don’t tell my other blog, but I never wanted to have a career.

Was that a collective gasp I heard from the feminist movement?  If there was ever a taboo statement in the last 30 years I’d think the one I just made would be it.

I started thinking about this deeply on Friday.  I was listening to talk radio on Friday (Yes, I’m one of those right-wing nut-jobs that listens to talk radio), and a lady called in after the question was raised as to why modern women as a whole are unhappy.  I mean, a modern Western woman can pretty much do anything she desires to do.  We can take on any role we choose.  So, why is there such collective discontent among career women?  Why are we constantly unhappy with something in our lives especially those of us who are super successful in our chosen profession?

The lady from talk radio said, “It’s pretty much because most women have stepped away from their God-given roles as wives and mothers.” (loosely quoted).

*Crickets… followed by the sound of Gloria Steinheim bursting a vessel.*

Her statement irritated me but for a different reason than it probably irritated Feminist Mother Gloria.

The good Lord allowed me to be a wife but not a mother…and I knew the lady was right.

I’m not irritated at the statement because I feel justified in having a career, because I never wanted a career.  I remember as far back as kindergarten wishing that I could be in 12th grade, because I wanted to be done with school to move on to what I knew (thought) the Lord wanted me to be…a wife and a mother.  I never had daydreams of being a nurse, a doctor, a journalist etc; however, over my growing-up years people tried to implant those desires in me in some subtle and not so subtle ways.  I grew up in the 70s and 80s…the renaissance era of the feminist movement…and even though I grew up in the rural South my educational experience and the good intentions of  feminist influences around me pushed me in the direction of a career.

I remember in middle school being made to go to a middle school version of a job fair.  I couldn’t have been more uninterested.  I don’t know how many people asked me what I wanted to do that day…I just kept telling them “I don’t know”.  I did know, but even at the tender age of 12 or 13 I knew saying that I wanted to be a wife and mother was not the the answer they wanted.  Besides, I thought asking a 6th grader to choose their life’s profession in a stinky school gym was a little too much pressure don’t you think?  I knew 12th graders who were still struggling with that decision.  All I cared about was surviving sixth-grade math and the crush I had on Rick Springfield.

It is my opinion that we put too much pressure on children (including those leaving high school for college) to have their careers chosen early.  It is my opinion that very few people know exactly what they want to do career-wise by the time they leave high school.  The lucky, passionate few do, but most…if they were completely honest…are totally confused about what their career path should be.

I also think women are pressured into careers by expectations forced upon us by the feminist movement  I believe if many women were blatantly honest they would admit that they really never wanted a career.  They wanted to be wives and mothers.  They wanted to build a loving family and home and not feel the immense pressure of having a career first and then maybe…when the time is right…if it ever is right…a home and a family.

I’ve worked for nearly 20 years, and even though I’m not a mother I have observed many career women trying to desperately hold on to a career (either by choice or necessity) while simultaneously trying to be an effective wife and mother.  I have never witnessed a woman doing both well.  Either the career or family suffers…usually both.  I would say that ninety-eight percent of the women end up being stressed out and unhappy with trying to juggle both family and career.  I think in the coming years this expectation upon women will go down as the tipping point in the decline of the American family.

Okay…what does this have to do with me…the childless woman?  Plenty…

I fell in love with my husband back in 1985.  I was a junior in high school.  He was a senior. All I wanted to do was graduate and marry him.  Well, I got plenty of opinions on that.  “You need something fall back on” was the statement made to me when I told people I really didn’t have interest in college just marriage and family.

Don’t get me wrong.  I think education is a wonderful thing.  I wish I had more education than I do, but looking back I would’ve majored in something different even though my career path has been very kind to me.  It was years later that I realized that I had a very deep interest in writing.

After graduation I struggled.  There were several people of the opinion that I should be a nurse since I took Health Occupations in high school (was even the president of our local H.O.S.A. chapter).  While I had a little interest in the medical profession once I did an internship in a hospital during my senior year in school I knew that nursing wasn’t for me.  That realization sent me into a existential crisis during the year the pressure to pick a profession was at its peak.  My answer to the pressure was to not make a decision at all that year regarding my future education.  While my family and friends were mostly supportive I knew many were disappointed that I was not going to become a nurse.

After graduation I went to work, working in a grocery store.   After a year of that I knew that working in a grocery store was not going to be my career.  I then started looking at going to junior college even though I still didn’t know what I wanted to do other than marry Eddie and start a family.   Well-intentioned adults kept saying, “You need skills to fall back on.” Since I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and I still had a lingering…though mild…interest in medicine I decided to go for an associate’s degree in Administrative Medical Assisting just to shut everyone up.  Reality had also set in.  My fiancee, Eddie, had developed a heart condition, and had been encouraged to go to college himself.  It also became apparent that we would not be able to live on love alone.   Because of his weakened state this was the time I took on responsibility that was not mine.  I became totally convinced that I would have to prepare myself to be the family provider in case sometime in the future my intended would be unable to be the provider.  It was a noble decision made completely out of love for him, but it was then I stepped outside my role as his spouse even though I wasn’t even his spouse at the time.

If there’s such a thing of being responsible to a fault (and I think there is) it’s definitely a character flaw of mine.

I finished my associate’s degree in Administrative Medical Assisting in 1990.  The degree gave me essential skills in clinical work or office administration.  Eddie had finished his second year in college and was transferring from a private 2-year college to a state 4-year college.  We married in the Summer of 1990 and moved to Appalachian State University in August of that year.  I quickly found a job as a medical transcriptionist at the local hospital.

While I do not regret our early years of marriage I know I took on some roles that were not mine to take on.  I don’t think there was anything wrong with me working while my husband finished college…it was my mindset that was wrong.  Subconsciously, I began to act like the head of the household.  Even though my husband had a lot to learn about being a Godly husband I also had a lot of learn about being a submissive wife.  There were conflicts…bad decisions…and illness.  All that combined took a toll, and while we never thought of splitting up there were times when I really wondered what I had gotten myself into.  Marriage was not turning out the way I expected.

The consequences of my upside-down thinking on the role of a woman in marriage has had a ripple-effect through our marriage.  It took me years to let go of some of messed-up worldly thinking on marriage.  I still struggle with it from time to time.  With the Lord’s help I eventually was able to surrender most of the roles I had taken on that were never mine in the first place.

The addition of the heartache of infertility amplified the areas where I had been wrong too.  I realized that if I had been obedient when I was 18 or 19 and had not taken on roles that were not mine more avenues might have been open for us as far as adoption etc.

However, God is completely faithful.   He doesn’t leave us to drown in our mistakes.  Like the father of an errant child he will bail us out of jail even when we don’t deserve it.   Even though I have made some bad decisions because of a worldly (feminist) way of thinking he had used those decisions to effect some wonderful things in my life.  He knew that my life would not be full of children.  He gave my husband and I both a love for animals, and we have been able to help rescue and help several animals in need.  He also used my unintended career choice to take me on a 20-year journey that has led to me working for one of the most influential men of our time.

But I do think that most women are at their happiest when they are wives and mothers.  I think it is the most underrated careers of all time.  Believe me, if the good Lord decides you are not to be either He will let you know, and when the time is right he will let you know what your life’s purpose is.  I think too many women jump the gun and sell out for second-best way too soon.

What do you think?

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3 responses »

  1. I also believe mothers should stay at home. I have a relative who had been working 50-60 hours perk week, even when her children were toddlers. Maybe she made good money, but to me the infant/toddler years are a very precious time. The children learn so much during that time. It’s something you can’t ever get back, no matter how much money you have. I admit that sometimes I wonder what direction, careerwise, my life would have taken if the 22yr old me knew what I know now.

  2. I know women who are not happy at all at being a stay at home mom. The fact that you have a husband is great, but many women are alone. It would be kind of silly not to prepare women to stand on her own 2 feet. Must she wait around until she is married off? The greatest gift a woman can give herself (and thus her offspring) is to educate herself.

    • Hi Tanja,

      Sorry for the late response. I completely understand where you are coming from. My point is that it should be a valid choice to be a stay-at-home mom if desire, circumstances and life situation warrant. I do think education is important, but society’s drive that a woman be everything to everyone at all times sets the bar too high for many (if not most). If a woman has the immense desire to be a wife and a mother that should be an accepted career choice and celebrated as much as a woman whose desire is to have a successful career outside of the home.

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