Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A Gripe

So I have to get this out of my system.

I had a performance review at work a few weeks ago. It was quite fantastic, one where I felt really great about my talents and abilities and my future at my company and beyond. I left the room feeling like after five years of pouring my soul into this job, moving across the country twice and racking up a disgusting amount of frequent flyer miles, we are on the verge of something huge. That this is the year for my little brand and all our work is going to see some truly remarkable results.

As I was flying home that day though I was thinking about the conversations I often have with single women my age in my church. How often we will be talking about work and someone says bitterly, "I didn't even want a career, I should be a mom by now." I always get uncomfortable with the chorus of "yeah! this is never what i wanted" responses that comment will usually provoke. Um, is it OK that I did? That my biggest fear as a teenager was that I would get married and have babies before I got to start a career. I had plans. And while those plans changed from veterinarian to actress to writer to lawyer to advertising exec as I grew up, I always wanted to grow up to be something. I did always want to be a mother as well but I guess even from a young age, I knew that marriage and motherhood was something over which I had little to no control. I had parents who encouraged all of us to study and go on missions and believed in our abilities to be whatever we wanted. So I grew up wanting more than just a job, I wanted a career.

Yes, I am surprised to be 30 and still single. It never occurred to me when I was younger that maybe I can't even count on getting married. Maybe I will be single forever. But I don't feel like the life I do have is a Plan B. Or a consolation prize. Or a thing I'm doing until my REAL life starts. I have an interesting and fun job that challenges and excites me. I work hard at it. And I'm good at it. I feel incredibly blessed to have it. To be as passionate about it as I am.

I firmly believe that raising children is just about the best job a person could have and I sincerely hope I get to do it someday. But in the meantime, developing my talents and abilities and being a dependable, trustworthy, hard-working employee is a really satisfying life as well. I know there are other LDS women who feel the way I do but I think sometimes we think we are supposed to feel a little bit cheated because we don't have husbands or kids. Like somehow we are not good Mormon girls if we are enjoying our jobs and our independence. I hear myself saying to my married friends, "I'd gladly trade my job for a two year old!" when I don't mean that at all. I will trade my job for MY two year old when the time is right but I wouldn't trade anything about the last 30 years of my life for a different experience. I like this one, I feel in my heart that I saw and chose this particular path.

So that is my rant. I'm saying it here so I don't go off at the next poor girl who whines about being single. In addition to my goal that in my thirties I wasn't going to say boys are dumb anymore because girls are just as difficult, I'm also done whining about what has or hasn't happened to me yet. As my friend Damian so wisely said," i have been able to meet and see people who in their best year can only envy my worst." There are better things to complain about in this world than my semi-charmed life.


aporitic said...

(holds both thumbs up)

k8 said...

pass it on to your daughters.

and i owe your wife an email and stuff-happy happy to do it!

Whits said...

THANK YOU. I am young but I've still felt scrutinized (even when i was 19!) for wanting a career. I can't tell you how many times I've had people say to me "dont you want to be a mother?" My mom didn't get to finish college but she had us dream big. She also showed us that being a mother is something divine and not to be treated lightly, but that we didn't have to sit around and wait for marriage or being a mother. I've always wanted to work and do something besides get married young and have kids. Just the other day a guy in my ward said, "whitney, people look at you and wonder why you graduated BYU single." He was half kidding, but he was actually being serious. This goes to show that I still feel the pressure to feel disappointed i'm not married yet. Anyway, this issue about career/mother has been on my mind for years. Thanks for posting this, you expressed my feelings exactly!

k8 said...

I'm glad to hear you feel the same way Whit. One thing I liked about living in Boston was being surrounded by LDS women in law school and business school, getting Harvard PhD's and doing really interesting things. They were all still really faithful girls but they weren't apologetic for the career paths they were on. I wish our culture could understand that motherhood and career are not mutually exclusive and wanting a career doesn't meant you hate babies or don't want to get married. Those of us who get it need to stick together!

Katie said...

Well put.

I love my career and find it both hard and rewarding everyday. It will be a difficult choice someday in the future to put it on hold for a family. I want to be a mom, just like you do, but I'll miss this a lot. I would never be apologetic about it, and the fact that you've felt that you've ever had to makes me a little mad at the culture we're in.

You rule.

dr_b_rock said...

couldn't have said it better! Many well meaning people met my announcement that I would be attending med school by saying, oh that's nice. . .but I'll bet you'll meet a cute boy and then, well. . .Grrr. I do feel left out at times when the social structure/tradition/etc of church get the in the way but wouldn't trade my life for anything. I feel like we each have so much to offer in so many different ways--that doesn't ALWAYS mean rearing children during our 20's.

jess said...

lots of people say life is short, but its usually, its pretty long. It's not like your clock is about to stop ticking or anything. Plenty of time for exploring many areas and seasons of life. As someone who has kind of the opposite of your life (married young, lots of kids) I figure I want a career that I am passionate about too, but it will happen later when I'm not as young and energetic, but still an intelligent person who isn't ready to sit on the porch all day. I really believe that there are lots of "right" ways to map out your life. You take the paths that you want or that you are pushed onto or that you stumble on, and go from there.

dr_b_rock said...

ps I think that women who do chose the marriage and kids route while young are amazing women who deserve lots of kudos as well. It's just nice to talk about how we do have options, and those options are valid!B

k8 said...

i really, really appreciate all these comments.

i think the key, especially in LDS culture, is to respect that we are all doing our best to follow what we believe is the plan for our own life. Young marriage can be right for some people while med school is totally the right thing for someone else. There is no one size fits all life plan. Thank goodness!

CoCo said...

We have a family friend who is writing a book (per the request of Deseret Books) along the lines of taking your own path. She is smart, beautiful, accomplished, HYSTERICAL, and that (what some might consider the dreaded "s" word ...) single. Her parents actually have a fairly substantial "bounty" that increases each year that she remains single for finding her a husband. Thankfully everyone can laugh about it (including her). I believe she actually has an article in an upcoming Ensign as preview to her book. I must admit that reading all these thoughts/comments is a bit sobering. Sobering in the fact that I have NEVER felt guilty or cheated for being where I am in life. I feel like I am exactly on track and if the rest of the world (namely within LDS culture) wants to view me as a late bloomer or shower me with pity - I wish they would direct that (wasted) energy on someone else. Never have I felt sorry for myself. I only frown upon those that are bitter with their "situation" in life, regardless of marital status or family size.

Rod Clifford said...

cWe raised you to believe that you had the talent and ability and grit to do whatever you wanted to do. Looks like it worked. Your life plan is ONLY between you and your Heavenly Father; the rest of us, including the busybodies, are just onlookers. Don't worry about them. Lots of people love you, and some of us are very proud of you, kid. Keep it up.

Chloe Elizabeth said...

I'm coming into this a little late in the game, but I appreciate all of the comments. As one who almost married the exact wrong person last summer, I think I was that girl who wanted so badly to be married that she almost sacrificed what she wanted to get it, but not because I wanted it, because I felt like something was wrong with me.

I'm happy to say that, as I am preparing to apply for business school this fall, I feel so good about my life. I am excited about it. I am becoming the exact person that I am supposed to become. I don't know that I always wanted a career, but I think I always knew that I wouldn't marry young.

That said, I do face the comments which some of you have mentioned, like, "Are you sure you want to make that kind of financial committment?" or "Oh, an MBA, that's intimidating" or, my favorite, "Business school would be a great place to meet someone."

But, that's the nature of our culture, I suppose. And I really do feel for those people who were raised to think that being a wife and mother were the only things to be. Not because those aren't wonderful things to be, but because our lives are all different and our paths are different...so here's to marching the beat of your drum, whatever that beat may be.

P.S. k8, I think you're fabulous! And I've always been a little jealous of your career...so I'm going to get one of my own. :-)