06 July 2009

Maybe Ward and June Had the Right Idea

This is not a political post.

This is not about feminism, or equality, or glass ceilings.

This is about my family. And my family is living a common enough reality, with two working parents and still not enough money and children who just want to enjoy childhood.

And so, I find myself wishing that we could go back to the 50's, when one parent (mama) stayed home and worked as the family's CEO and one parent (dad) went out into the world of commerce (or wherever) and made enough money for everyone else to live on.

Who doesn't think this made all kinds of freakin' sense? Families -- children -- need someone around all the time, and families -- children -- need a CEO who can devote 100% of her or his attention to...wait for it...the family.

OK, I understand what I'm saying here. Here's what I'm NOT saying:

I'm NOT saying that women should abandon their career dreams and get back in the kitchen.

I'm NOT saying that the 50's were overall better for women.

I'm NOT saying that I would enjoy turning back the clock on the changes that have happened for women over the last 60 years.

What I am saying is that I wish I could give 100% of my attention to my children, or that I could go do some very gratifying and financially rewarding-enough work so that Rick could give 100% of his attention to our children.

But then again, who am I kidding? I am severly attached to these kids who came barreling out of me, who are flesh of my flesh, and I just plain want it to be me who gets to be with them. I want to be the Home Boss.

But I can't. We don't have that kind of life. Or rather, I have to be part Home Boss and part a bunch of other people, and so does Rick. We both have to work. We both have very flexible working lives, so that helps, but it's still incredibly hard on every member of our family that both of us have to divide our time and energy into so many different pieces of pie.

I think sometimes of the various ways in which Western Civilization seems to be falling apart. Ya' know, what with all the body piercings in out-of-the-way places, all the multi-cultural senstivity trainings, all the elevator music (complete with impassioned arpeggios) that passes for idol-worthy talent. But one of the biggest ways I see this world -- our world -- falling apart, is the pressure that families live under in the modern age. We are working more, supervising more, involved more, coaching more, volunteering more, expecting more, having more expected of us, than parents before us were subjected to, and I for one, in my own family, feel the toll acutely.

I wish for a simpler life, for fewer demands on our time. I wish I didn't have to work to keep up with life in the Bay Area. I wish we weren't busy too many nights in the week.

I also have other aspirations, besides my desire to be the primary caregiver to five astounding human beings; so I guess it really is as complicated as it seems. How do I balance what I want and need, with what they want and need, with what the real world is foisting upon us?

I fairly ache when I read or hear stories about people who have devoted themselves single-heartedly to one thing: to a sport...a cause...a skill...a mission. I am a woman divided by causes and responsibilties, seeking wholeness anyway, seeking one direction among the many things pulling me this way and that.

I may not ever want to bake cupcakes or sew clothing for my children (while admiring those who do); but I will forever wish that I could do one thing, and do it well: raise these kids until I can go on to my life's work, which of course, I still need to discover as I continue to grow up.

Maybe June Cleaver went on to become a great artist after the kids left the house. Maybe she started a non-profit in town, or volunteered for a local community organization. If she got to go on and do something in addition to raising her children, something she found fulfilling and gratifying, then yup: June Cleaver had it all. Where can I get me some of that???

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3 comments:

TeacherMommy said...

I'm so sorry it's like that for you! I don't, myself, share that dream because summers are hard enough for me. The whole SAHM is not my natural bent. But I get that torn feeling of having to do and be too much, too many places, all the time.

nicole said...

hmmm.

Viv said...

Going from having a career to being a career mom was something I wanted for a LONG time. It isn't always greener on the other side though Monica. I have, because I am the SAHM dealt with each and every Mon-Fri emergency for the last year plus some. It also throws one more barrier up between you and a life outside of your kids (crazy right...you would think that sans job I would have more time for friends...sadly this isn't the case) and it can be very lonely. Even with six children and four more with fur, it gets very lonely around here.