Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Boys and girls and work

Wouldn't it be nice if all moms and dads -- all adults, actually -- had the freedom to choose whether they wanted to work, and for how many hours per week? I was reading a Boston Globe column about the feminist pendulum swing to the so-called "mommy track" that described how some women are now freely choosing to be stay-at-home moms even though they have challenging and well-paying careers, or at least career options (i.e., education). I think it's great that women have progressed from Point A (get married, stay home and raise the kids or don't get married and get one of the few appropriately "womanly" jobs) to Point B (have the legal and societal ability to get the same jobs men, but if you work full-time, endure guilt and Supermom burnout) to Point C (decide to be a full-time mom as in days of yore, but consciously choose to do so).

What would be really great is if, #1, men had the same options financially and socially (I think there's still a feeling that "househusbands" are really just guys who couldn't find a job and support their families), and #2, the job market was more flexible and receptive about part-time work for everyone without torpedoing your career. It's not right that women should be the only ones who have the full-time/part-time/homemaker choice to make. If both partners could work part-time on flexible schedules, both would preserve their sanity, make some money and have a decent amount of family time.

Of course maybe this is all drivel and just my own personal fantasy. I very much wanted kids and am anything but a corporate ladder-climber or workaholic, but I KNEW there was no way I could be a stay-at-home mom and not lose my marbles completely -- much as I feel sad and guilty about the time I spend at work away from the kids. But there are men as well as women who would happily stay home, and more power to 'em. It just seems that experiencing both domesticity and adult time with use of higher brain functions would be ideal in life. It's all about balance, the yin and yang, the pomme and terre, you know? What do you think?

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