Monday, May 1, 2017

Update: The Role of Women

As I talk about the topic of "the role of women" my goal is always the same.  It is not to stand on my soapbox suggesting I have an answer or to ever make anyone feel bad.  I hope it is the opposite.  I hope my discussion on the topic is a refreshing, honest, open conversation on the struggle of being a woman in LDS culture and life in general.

Here is one of my previous discussions on the topic:
"Bossy" - the role of women

I am updating this because my perspective has changed a bit and I think it is worth documenting.  But once again, I think finding one's path in life is very personal and I don't think it is the same for everyone.  I truly hope I do not offend.  My goal, if any besides to document my changed perspective, is to just explore different perspectives to help any woman in the struggle of finding her path.

Without further ado.  My updated Role of Women.

Being fully engrossed in the Mormon culture I thought I would live a very typical Mormon life.  If you asked me at 12 or 14 or 18 or 21 how my life would play out I would have said:

I'd go to college.

I'd get a degree that I could use to fall back on ***in case something happened to my husband***

I'd get married.

I'd maybe work to help put my husband through med school.

I'd have a half-a-dozen kids and stay at home to raise them.

I'd drive a mini-van and live happily ever after.

And then life happened.  (Oh the blessed expectations versus reality)

I went to college.

I got a degree as fast as I could (8 semester to be exact)

I started a career in a "mom friendly" field.

And then I waited to get married.  And it didn't happen.

So I got a Masters in the same "mom friendly" field waiting to get married.

And then I waited to get married.

Oh and also I got really bitter.  I worked in a profession that I didn't necessarily love but chose because it was very "mom friendly".  When I got a degree in education I never intended to actually create a career.  I never in my wildest dreams at 12, 14, 18, 21 or even 28 would have thought I would teach for 15 years.

I became bitter because I hadn't dreamed.  I hadn't explored the possibilities.  I had chosen a career based off one thing and one thing only, the practicality of being a mom.  I started to wish I had done something different.  I wished I would have done something more prestigious or made more money or at least picked something that didn't make people feel sorry for me.  (If I hear "Oh you teach junior high, what a terrible age" one more time...)  What would I have done?  Who knows, I love love loved economics.  Maybe investing?  Maybe business?  Who knows, maybe law?  But if you would have asked me at 29 (before I met Jason) I would have said ANYTHING but teaching.

I felt I had made all my decisions in my life based off being a mom and there was a huge possibility at 29 I would never be one.   And I was sad that I felt like sold myself short.  I could have been something with my life and now I was stuck the cage of junior high.  With the least prestigious title of them all, "Kristin?  Oh she's just a teacher."

Fast forward 5 years.

And what I almost feel guilty for saying.

I am so incredibly grateful I chose a "mom friendly career".  Going through those 10 years of bitterness were totally worth it because my life has changed and I know things I couldn't comprehend in my earlier years.  What has changed my perspective?  I understand something better.  You see, being a working mom sucks.  And there is no way around it.  The club of working moms is a very strong unified group. I have respect and love for this group more than I thought possible.  Although it's a horrible comparison, the working mom club, the ache and guilt that unifies this group, it is almost as strong as the single women group.  The fact that someone else is essentially raising your child, it's heart wrenching.  Being a full time working mom is something I do not wish upon anyone.

The thought of taking my sweet 6 week old, brand new, beautiful baby to a daycare full of germs, loud toddlers, and strangers makes me sick.  But I did it.  And so do so many amazing women every single day.

My perspective has totally changed. My priorities have changed.  There might have been a time I cared about prestige or money but not anymore.   Right now, although I still need to support my family, my number one priority is being with my baby as much as possible.  Of course I am not saying that a mom needs to feel the guilt I do.  But I have yet to meet a full-time working mom of an infant that doesn't.  It's like we have this instant bond.  It's seriously like the least exclusive club I've ever belonged to.  All you have to say is you are a full time working mom and you drop your baby off somewhere 5 days a week and you are in.  As I talk with these women and feel what they feel, I am so grateful for the career of a teacher.  The life of a teacher is pretty dang fantastic.  I make great money for the amount of hours worked with the best benefits out there.  I am home every school day by 4.  My job is definitely not very stressful.  But most important, there is always the light at the end of the tunnel.  Oh summer.  Blessed summer.

So how has my perspective changed in the last 5 years?  I used to be so bitter than I didn't dream.  I didn't go out and make something of myself.  I didn't follow my passions and make millions. I was so mad and bitter towards a culture that taught me to prioritize my future family over dreams.  I still don't have answers to how to help other girls and women.  I have no idea what the correct balance is between living our dreams and sacrificing to have "mom friendly" careers.  But I will tell you what.   Right now.  20 school days until summer.  I am so incredibly grateful for the wise women in my life that guided me to choose a "mom friendly" career.  Because my baby needs me.  And he is the most important thing in my world.


Britt said...

So refreshing at hear this insight as a 26 year old going into teaching. I plague myself with questions like, "What if I never become a mom? What if I have to teach for 50 years?" At the end of the day though, I live on hope. Hope that even if I never get to be a mom I will have found fulfillment in my career, that I was able to use all those summers for other amazing goals and endeavors, and lastly that if I work for 50 years that I was able to feel like I changed a small corner of the world.

LOVE your insights as always. Thanks for changing my world as a teacher and friend.

Danielle Bates said...

Thanks for writing this post. In December I had to quit my job as a stock broker to be home with my two boys. It literally took me four attempts to quit because all the men I worked with couldn't believe I would give up the money I was making to be at home. One boss sat me down two different times and told me, "Just hire someone better so you don't have to worry about your kids." At the time my 6 month old was allergic to formula and screaming all day and all night. He could only have breast milk, and after 6 months my milk was drying up because I only pumped. My baby was asleep when I left and asleep when I got home. I didn't know how to tell the gentleman that I couldn't hire someone to breastfeed my baby. On top of that, my baby was so difficult my 3 year old literally watched TV 8 hours a day for months. The worst part about it, when I did finally quit I felt like a failure because I couldn't do both.

Being a working mom is thee hardest thing I've ever done, and I thought every single day for 6 months. Man I should have really went and taught school. At least students can't call when you're at home. Life has a funny way of working out for everyone. At least a couple times a month I get an email from someone I used to work with, or was a client asking me if I miss the stock market. I always tell them, "I can watch the market from anywhere, but the best place to watch it, is at home with my kids."

Sorry...rant over. This comment was very therapeutic for me. ha ha

Emilee Bishop said...

I absolutely love this. Love love love it.