When I was little, I never dreamt about being a stay-at-home mom some day.
This isn’t because I “wanted more” or had something against the thought; it was mostly because my mom told me and my sisters as children to get our educations, find a career and then get married. We didn’t question her or wonder why. It was just how it was, and none of us stopped to think about the fact that for many years, our mother was a stay-at-home mom.
The thought of being a career woman didn’t come across as an option to us – it was expected.
My oldest sister was the first to follow my mom’s guidelines. By 21 she was a registered nurse, supporting herself and living on her own, all the while loving her job and independence for years. She didn’t marry until she was 27.
It wasn’t until I was older and in university that my mom explained why she raised us this way. I knew my parents’ marriage wasn’t perfect, obviously, since they divorced when I was 14, but as a girl-becoming-a-woman, her explanation did a few things for me as an adult: it made me sad about what she went through, but also made me respect my mother so much more.
You see, my mom wanted us to have what she didn’t – a way out of an unhappy marriage. With four kids and only a basic education, my mom could never have been able to afford to leave my dad any earlier if she wanted to, and she didn’t want her daughters to have the same problem some day.
So she pressed on us the importance of education (over and over again) and the richness of having a good career. Her two sisters also did this with their daughters, and all of us female cousins and sisters are educated and have (or are soon to have) good jobs.
For me that’s one of the best gifts my mom could have given me, and it took me being an adult to appreciate this. Too often I see and speak to women stuck in miserable marriages who want to leave but can’t afford to. Many of them got married too young before giving themselves the opportunity to go to university, and now they’re dependant on their husband’s income to support their family. Putting their children first, they are stuck in these unhappy unions for who knows how long.
I wish they had all grown up with my mom.
Now at 29 I have the option to become a stay-at-home mom for a while once I have children, and still have the choice to go back to work and support myself after if I want. Not only does this create a double-income for the household; it will also give me a sense of contribution to the family, as well as the option to leave my marriage if (heaven forbid) it becomes toxic and I will still be able to support myself.
It’s not all sunshine and puppies being a “career woman” though. There are still men out there who look down on it, maybe out of intimidation or even old-fashioned sexism, but I have definitely heard my share of people accusing me of being “selfish” because I want to work while having a family. It’s really sad that people still think that way in 2013, but there it is.
There have been countless dates where some of my female colleagues and I get asked what we do, and when we tell them, they give a certain look and we know we’ll never hear from them again.
Of course that’s a blessing in disguise; after all, the last thing an independent woman wants is a sexist partner who doesn’t believe in equality or support her career choices. There are also men who are threatened if a woman’s income is higher than his, and can’t handle what they consider the ‘emasculation’ of living in a partnership like that.
After years of seeing that “look” from that kind of man on first dates, it can get awfully discouraging, and lonely for many of us as we sift through the sand for that shining diamond.
But there are diamonds out there if you’re patient, men who would gladly take a nice double income in today’s less-than-ideal economy; men who love smart and independent women who can bring interesting after-work discussions to the supper table everyday.
Thankfully, I’ve found one of those men, and my “career woman” status is loved and respected by him. In fact he’s downright proud of it.
After years of university and searching for the right fit, I have an excellent education, a great job doing something I love, a good man and a bright future that will include a family and a career – my career.
It’s everything my mom ever wanted me to have, and who knows where I would be today if she hadn’t wanted it for me?
I hate to think about it.