Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The feminine professions

People often talk about professions that are "good for women", and indeed, some fields have become primarily female-dominated. These fields, such as teaching, nursing, and administrative jobs, cater to the women's natural abilities of care-giving and paying attention to details.

Usually, when it is said that a certain profession is "good for a woman/mother", what is meant is the following:

1. It isn't a male-oriented profession
2. It allows part-time work and/or flexible hours
3. It isn't very competitive
4. It usually isn't what could be called a career – it doesn't involve many years of extensive training, and there is a definite limit to how tall a ladder the woman can climb. It's a profession that will allow a "quiet life."

The last point, by the way, is sometimes a cause of disdain: people who hear that their former, very "promising" classmate, is working as a teacher, shrug and say, "oh well, that's a good job for a mother", meaning that "of course, now that she has a family, she can probably aim for no better."

And if we are talking about teaching, I'm not at all sure that having mostly women as teachers is that good for children in the long run. In the Orthodox Jewish sector, for example, families have multiple children. In the school where I work, someone is always expecting and someone is always on maternity leave. This means that children are often stuck mid-year, for a period of several months, with a substitute teacher who doesn't know them and has no idea how to relate to them. This is a huge setback, in my opinion, in addition to the fact that class dynamics don't allow much personal student-teacher interaction in the first place.

Then, just as the students begin to get used to their substitute teacher, their permanent teacher returns and has no idea what has really been going on in class in her absence. I have had that happen to me in the year of highschool when we were supposed to take our history exam, and it wrecked havoc in our learning process.

Or take for example being a nurse, which is considered a good profession for a woman because the work is in shifts, which supposedly allows you to spend more time with your family. Practically, what does it mean? That a woman might take care of her children during the morning and afternoon, and then she goes to work a night shift when her husband comes home. If I'm the only one who thinks this is an undue burden, I'll be surprised.

There's also the saying that "we NEED women in that profession." Ob/gyns are probably the most common example. I won't deny I wouldn't feel at all comfortable with a male ob/gyn, and in fact, the rabbinical guideline on this matter is that a woman should see a female ob/gyn when at all possible. But I also think that medical school is one of the worst options for women (at least here in Israel). After 10 years of grueling studies and professional training, most of the graduates are in their thirties by the time they are done, and many postpone having families until then. Doctors are also the ones to most often experience professional burn-out, which cannot be good for their family life.

And you know what else I have noticed? My (female) ob/gyn, although she is a wonderful person, does not use so much of her feminine traits – her intuition, her sympathy, her personal birth experience – in her work. She is working "by the book", which gives her no advantage over a male ob/gyn, who has no idea what being pregnant and giving birth is really all about.

I don't really need as many visits to my ob/gyn as it is common to take. Traditionally, pregnancies and births were attended by midwives – midwifery is far more flexible than medical school, and far more fitting to women, especially older ones. I daresay that professional midwife care, coupled with modern medical equipment to carefully monitor the woman's condition, is enough for a normal pregnancy and birth, and ob/gyns may only be "reserved" for emergencies. It's a pity that midwife care is not developed in Israel. When I was in labor with Shira, just the stress of having doctors hovering all over me stalled labor altogether, after which I fled that hospital and went to another  one, where my child was successfully delivered by non-interfering midwives.

Overall, I believe that the only profession that is truly "good for a woman" is the work of being a wife and mother, which is enough to keep most of us busy as it is. Even a part-time job is stressful for a woman who has children at home. I think it's very sad how people sit for hours discussing which profession will do less damage to a woman's family life.

A neighbor of mine recently quit her job to stay home with her child, who is about the same age as Shira. When she hesitantly told me about her decision, I wholeheartedly congratulated her and told her she will never regret it. She has important work to do, and however she may be "needed in her field", she is more needed at home.        


S. Belle said...

I worked as a teacher prior to having children, and I think it is one of the most family friendly careers, only because of the summer vacation and holidays.

However, I do not look forward to returning to teaching because I think it would be stressful to have to deal with other people's children all day long, and then return to my own children at the end of the day.

From that perspective I don't see how teaching is that great of a career for women, but I guess it's kind of the lesser of other evils.

I definitely agree that being a wife and mother is the best for a woman with a family.

Even freelance writing, which can be done from home, requires a big commitment to become successful at it, which takes time away from home duties.

Kate said...

Very interesting post. I have a male ob/gyn and it doesn't bother my husband or I a bit. When I was a maiden, though, I insisted on female-only or midwife only. Even if I did continue with female only, my birthing situations required attention by men. My first born was premature so an OB had to deliver him. My second came so fast that the first doctor on hand had to be there, a male who wasn't my primary OB.

Frankly, I don't see how in a captialist society any employer would choose a woman over a man (if they had perfectly equal qualifications.) Unless that woman can prove that she will never ever ever have children, women tend to cost companies more...a LOT more.

It has been said that if every mother who works quits her job and returns to the home, the job market would expand so much that there would be no unemployed men and pay rates would go up because of competition. Whether that's true or not, I don't know, but it stands to reason.

One more point: I'm amazed at the number of mothers who return to the workforce when their children are young teens. In my experience just because they are capable of legally caring for themselves without mommy supervision doesn't mean they are ready to be on their own, even for a few hours after school while Mom's at work. I find that the teen years are some of THE MOST CRUCIAL years for a parent to be there for their children. How many teens do stupid things, get pregnant, get into drugs, or even commit suicide while mom's at work?

Anyhow, I could go on and on. :) I know in this fallen world mothers at home is the ideal, but not the norm.

Melissa said...

Dear Anna,

I wanted to raise a couple of issues in response to this entry. With all due respect, I wanted to offer an alternative perspective on the feminine professions.

I'm training to be a teacher and also working as one at the same time. This is not something I have undertaken lightly and in the case of the former, I don't know anyone who has undertaken it lightly (in the case of the latter, I live in Japan and it's common for native English speakers to work as English teachers whether they like it or not but I really think that's another matter). Most of us enter teaching because we feel passionate about it. I personally love children and want to help them to learn not just academic material but to be good people as well.

I would most certainly regard it as a career or even a vocation. Teaching is hard work! It's not just about waltzing in, delivering a lesson and waltzing out again. You have to plan well ahead, prepare and often research, you have to try and cater for all of your students' needs, you have to try and do what's best for them.

You can't just switch on and off from your work. You become emotionally invested in it. It can be incredibly challenging but also incredibly rewarding.

To really be regarded as a professional teacher, you need to have a university degree in my home country (Australia) and every other English speaking country I can think of as well as a number of European countries. Masters degrees are becoming more and more the norm. I have reservations about whether this is necessary but however you look at it, this does actually require years of training.

I know that some people don't regard teachers very highly. I find this really disappointing since we're such a key figure in children's lives. Just because some disregard what we do doesn't mean it isn't important, though.

I do agree with you on many things. I don't think it's a good idea to just leave a class in the middle of the year (again, I don't know anyone who does this lightly though). I don't think the best way for a child to learn is to shove them in a class of 30+ students and hope for the best. I think there should be more male teachers in the profession and I think it's a great pity that there aren't. I do think being a good wife and mother is very important.

I also think, however, that these professions are very valuable and I think them a very worthwhile way for women to spend their time, whether it be a young woman waiting to become a wife and mother, a married woman who has to work for whatever reasons or an older woman who wishes to include something else in her life.

Gothelittle Rose said...

How would a capitalist society employ a woman instead of a man?

Answer: A truly capitalist society is free to enter into a contract for each purchase. The employer and the employee agree on the cost of the employee's services. In the U.S., which is now officially considered a "mixed economy" rather than capitalist, this is hampered by regulations that force both you and the company to alter your agreements in ways that you do not prefer.

Almost ten years ago, I had a lovely job in my field of study. With no 'benefits' whatsoever, I had a higher raw salary and was paid by hours worked only. No vacation, no sick time, no penalty for missing work. I was writing computer programs and I was making over thirty dollars an hour.

And I was happy.

Jobs like that nowadays are rare. I understand that the government is trying to Make Everything Fair, but in a genuinely capitalist society, anyone can capitalize on his or her skills in such a way as to reach a mutually beneficial agreement with a company.

Basically, supposedly working in my interests, the government forces my employer to offer me things I don't want and allows my employer to penalize things I can't help. That's why I'm working part-time as a tutor in the Catholic school system instead of part-time as a programmer at a defense contractor.

Rebekka said...

I'm a nurse, and I work at a hospital full-time. I don't know how the mothers with young children do it (especially the single mothers) - and where I work we have pretty good conditions with 7-9 evening or night shifts a month and we only have to work every third weekend. If I have 4 evening shifts in a row during the weekdays I don't see my husband awake from Sunday evening until Friday afternoon. I believe that women are more suited to nursing generally, but it is NOT a family friendly profession unless you work in a doctor's office or something like that (and even so...)

I wish I could go home but my husband does not support it at all.

Bethany Hudson said...

Anna, I find myself having to disagree with this particular post. While I think that there are many career paths that are not the most conducive to being a mother, and I think that the best "career" for a mother is to do that vital work full-time until her children are grown, there are also many possibilities for women to be in the workforce. I do not believe that every woman is called to marriage and motherhood, and for those who are not, we are blessed to be in a society where they may support themselves in virtually any career path they choose! I am glad to see the back of the days when a woman had to marry someone--anyone!--just to survive financially. Moreover, even if you are a full-time wife and mother, there will be a day when the children leave the nest. While there is no shame in continuing to stay at home and serve your husband at that point, many women find that they have so streamlined their routines and with fewer mouths to feed, they have so much free time! Many choose to begin or relaunch careers at this point, and many are quite successful at doing so, depending on the pursuit chosen.

Don't get me wrong, I am proud to have been at home since my marriage, but I do work from home as a writer, and someday, I may choose to return to the workforce--as what, who knows yet? There are so many seasons of life ahead!

Mrs. Anna T said...

Melissa, here in Israel, teaching is one of the lowest paying jobs, which of course doesn't draw much respect. I think it's a true pity.

Of course it's not a good idea to leave a class in the middle of the year, but in a teachers' staff made of Orthodox Jewish women, maternity leave (here, 3 months) happens so often you can't help it. I expect children have a substitute teacher at least for one subject every year.


Of course, I was talking of women who are inclined towards having a family, which means the vast majority of the population.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post. I wholeheartedly agree. I am training my daughters to be helpmeets and mothers. When they are grown (if they get married), I will spend my time mentoring younger women (which I have started doing already), as very few are trained these days to be helpmeets and mothers, there is a lot of work for us "older women" to do. If they don't get married, they will be staying home and helping their father and I in run our home. Then when we are gone they will be taken care of by their brother. We don't have to get a career (outside of the home) EVER, as there is always work to be done domestically in our own homes or in helping in other womens homes.

Leah Burks said...

"My (female) ob/gyn, although she is a wonderful person, does not use so much of her feminine traits – her intuition, her sympathy, her personal birth experience – in her work. She is working "by the book"

Mine too! It's as though to be able to survive in the "man's world" of medicine, many female ob/gyns have to stifle those feminine traits. I am currently 6.5 months pregnant, and there aren't many doctors to choose from in my area. But having a female doctor is nice.

angela said...

Anna, I love the way you look at both sides of the issue and then defend yours completely... I do agree with you about the OB/GYN. This is my 4th pregnancy with the same Dr. and I really like her alot, but she doesn't use any of her feminine gifts that you spoke of. I have thought very hard about a midwife, but my DH is not convinced as of yet. I have even thought about unassisted home-birth with my husband and mother helping. I read an article the other day in a magazine called "Working Moms" or something it was actually in my OB's office no less. And, the whole thing was about overcoming the guilt that so many working moms feel and I thought it was so sad, because of ALL the SAHM's that I know none of them ever talk about the guilt of staying home. I just wish that woman didn't feel like they had so much to prove... I also agree with one of you're other posts. I have talked to several working moms who say it it weren't for their school loans they would be at home with their kids!!! That says alot to me...

Anonymous said...

It's not easy to know where to start in commenting on this issue. In comparing my life to others, some might say that I try 'to do or have it all', and others might say I'm a 'dragon mother' while other might say that my husband 'has no teeth', but a certain educational level in some professional fields affords a woman a certain degree of both direct caretaker and breadwinner in family involvement.

When I met my future husband at college, we could've put off marriage before I graduated, but chose to marry before either one of us had finished education in our chosen professions. Later, after we finished school we found that my full-time jobs would be more accessible to providing income and security (health insurance benefits, continued employment, pension on retirement, etc.), so my job was considered the stable income. I went on maternity leave (we lived on accrued vacation time not taken in the preceding year) immediately on quitting one job, and arranged employment with another firm before spending the four months home at delivery and after. Then, my husband chose to be home with the boys full-time.

My medical profession is now dominated by women, many in part-time jobs, a trend that has gradually changed over the past 30 years. In my field patients have no particular regard whether we are women or men.

I was envious of the opportunity several years later that allowed a male co-worker to apply for FMLA time (Family Medical Leave Act) for three months during his wife's delivery which allowed him to remain employed and receiving benefits during that time.

My brother and his wife are teachers and they were able to arrange their schedules so that they alternated teaching contracts every other year while caring for their children.

My professional career doesn't allow much room for female advancement without making an effort to choose a managerial path. Since I have no desire to be an administrator, I continue to staff while gaining seniority. Some part-time positions, despite no benefits, allow a female to participate in managerial decision-making decisions, so that years after this type of arrangement affords advancement when proceeding to full-time status. When a person doesn't advance, sometimes just 'seniority' seems to mean that we'll be the first relieved of our duties if staff cuts are necessary since we are at the top of the pay scale.

A man in a similar full-time position would automatically be advanced in rank and prestige, without need for applying to special administrative training opportunities. But, that's a side issue, since, my concern is providing for my family, and saving for the time when my husband can begin cross-training in another field to return to the workforce.

Andrea said...

I am a part-time preschool assistant, and a part-time housewife (still waiting on God's blessing of children). I used to teach preschool, and while I LOVED teaching,I felt (and I know my husband felt, even though he never said!!!!) that the long hours of preparation for teaching took away too much of my time and even more, ENERGY!, from being a caring wife and caring for our home. In God's time, I pray that I will be able to be a full-time homemaker, even before we have children. That is my dream. But for the meantime, I love my job, and since I have to work so we can make it right now, I am so grateful to be able to work caring for children instead of working in some office where I am hit on or yelled at! So I agree with your post in general, but I believe it is possible even for a home-living girl like me to find joy working outside the home in a "feminine profession" if it is necessary!

Marianne said...

As a mother who works outside the home, I love this post. It articulates the message my heart was trying to send me when I was all career-motivated.

Thank you, Ms. Anna.

Bethany Hudson said...

Anna, I see. Perhaps I misunderstood. It seemed like you said that being a wife and mother was the best role for ALL women, and that's where I disagreed. But, if you were talking about women generically rather than universally, then I do agree with you. :-)

Anonymous said...

Dear Anna, this was a very perceptive post. What is very interesting, when you break it down, each job you mentioned is one that the average homemaker does. We teach our children, nurse our sick, handle household accounts and sometimes even businesses...etc. Many women waste years and thousand and thousands of dollars to become "certified" to do for strangers what they could do freely and more enjoyably for their own family. As the saying goes "If I cook for strangers I am a chef, if I cook for my family I am wasting my skills..".

As for your commenter who is training to be a teacher and states how hard it is to teach other people's children..yes, it is. Education is also one of the most important things in the world. Which is why God, in His immense wisdom, told FATHERS AND MOTHERS to teach their own. Your need to teach could be more than fulfilled by doing it to those that are entrusted to you and whom you most love.

Think about it...
Which one has eternity in mind? The Mother at home, anything else is just a job.

Many Blessings :)

Jiabaoyu said...

Anna, while your pregnancy was thankfully uncomplicated, many women are not that lucky. Remember that before modern medicine, about 10% of mothers died at childbirth.

Today, mothers are also more likely to be obese, more likely to be older, and more likely to have a myriad of other medical issues (such as diabetes, lupus, hypertension).

This all points to increased complications in pregnancy and childbirth. For those patients, a midwife is just not enough.

I recently spent some time caring for a patient who had a placenta abruption and she eventually miscarried. It was a horrible sight to behold yet she was never in any danger b/c the OB-GYN kept a close eye on her. A midwife would have been unqualified to keep her stable as she bled out, or to know at what point she would require an emergency ceasearan.

I'd also point out that US OB-GYNs don't cater exclusively to pregnant women. They also treat women with gynecological cancers, and any issues relating to the female pelvic region.

A women suffering severe endometriosis may intially be treated by a OBGYN medically, but as she worsens, the same OBGYN may perform her hysterectomy.

A patient with an ectopic pregnancy will be diagnosed by an OB-GYN but then the same physician may need to perform the lifesaving surgery remove the pregnancy if the pregnancy ruptures and the woman begins to hemorrhage.

And even if your OBGYN seems to not know what childbirthing is like, I've noticed a very high propensity of OB-GYNs having kids. I'm also fairly certain most female OB-GYN personally understands "female troubles" such as menstrual cramps and irregular cycles.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems you imagine the need for an OBGYN only when you're lying unconscious in a hospital bed.

But if you're like most women in this world, you may find yourself with various "female troubles" later on life that will require a OB-GYN doc to treat. And when that happens, you may be glad that you at least have the option of a female physician. So I hope someday you may be thankful that a women decided to make the sacrifice to become a physician. :~)

Anonymous said...

I work as an RPN in a nursing home and most of my shifts are evening shifts. This has caused some distance between my husband and myself but he's been pretty good about it. Thankfully I only work part time so I am here at least 3 nights a week to make dinner and spend time with him. One thing I noticed at my facilty, a lot of my co-workers from housekeeping to the RNs are either divorced or on their second or third marriages. Nursing is really not a family friendly profession, I don't know how my co workers with small children cope.
Mrs Mills

Mrs. Anna T said...

Bethany, of course the Jewish perspective on marriage is somewhat different from the Catholic one - we don't have a concept of people who are "called" to being single; some, of course, will not marry, but that's seen more as a mistake, not a calling.

Gothelittle Rose said...

I gotta say on the Family Medical Leave for fathers that it was an absolute Godsend for my husband to be able to spend the first couple of weeks home with me. We didn't have to spend extra money to have some stranger living in the house with us trying to run the household until I could get on my feet again. I was able to take some time and recover, and he got the chance to fully bond with the new member of the family.

It wasn't all roses, either... he used up all of his sick time and most of his vacation time doing it, and returned to work a little early so that we could continue to have a steady income.

On ob/gyn.. I go to a practice with a male ob/gyn and a female midwife. I like it very much. The ob/gyn delivered my first and the midwife delivered my second with a hospital ob/gyn present just in case. My ob/gyn is husband and father to three boys. I feel as though he does truly understand the 'female condition'.

Buffy said...

I agree with your post with the reservation that this applies if the woman in question is married with children under, say, 16. However, lots of women don't get married or don't have children. Some are happy with this state of affairs and some are not, but for them being involved in a caring profession such as nursing or teaching can be a way to express the nurturing skills innate in a woman. I understand the idea that for every man there is a wife, but there have been times in society where this is not feasible, for example after the WW1 when so many young men were killed. I strongly believe that no woman should be forced into the workplace though, just for the sake of it. It's about having options.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Buffy, it's true that being, say, a nurse or a teacher may be a way for an unmarried woman to express her caring nature. Personally, I would say that this feminine gift of love and caring could be much more naturally and easily applied in the immediate family or community (caring for elderly relatives, helping with one's own nephews), but today, when many family and community ties are broken, and so many grow up with no family to speak of, this may be difficult.

In fact, I feel this is an idea for a whole separate discussion.

Anonymous said...

I am a teacher...and truly believe that God intends for me to be such...as well as a wife and mother. Sometimes, I like to reread about the the Proverbs 31 woman...talk about a lady who did it all! God always gives the strength to carry out His plans. Blessings...

Anonymous said...

I love your posts, Anna, and have missed them over the past few months.

I worked almost fulltime until the day my oldest was born. I only got 5 weeks maternity leave (it was a small mom&pop store with only 7-8 employees, all parttime and one was taking a well deserved vacation that I needed to cover). I worked from mid March until mid August at about 20 hours a week (4 4-hour days). I was coming really close to having a breakdown, especially after I messed her rolling over for the first time! I am so happy to be home now! The Lord has blessed us with three daughters so far and we'cee living more comfortably than we thought we could be.

In response to Bethanie and Buffy (sorry if I mis-spelled your names!): I highly recommend "The Privalege of Being a Woman" by Dr Alice VonHildibrand (I hope I spelled that right!). She discusses while not all women may be called to being a wife and mother, all women all called to be maternal, caring for others. It is a Catholic book, but I feel it is great for anyone who believes that following the example of the mother of Christ, Mary, is a good idea. :)


Pendragon said...

The problem as I see it is not particular careers, but a culture that still assumes mothers must do the vast bulk of the work necessary to care for a child. That assumption causes SO many problems. It causes working mothers to feel guilty about working. It causes working mothers to be overly frazzled. It causes children to be neglected because dad is simply expecting overly burdened mothers to take care of it all. It causes many women to give up the opportunity to earn their own income or achieve positions of power and influence. It causes a huge disparity in the ability of men and women to be competitive in the workplace, and results in a situation where most positions of power throughout the world are male dominated such that women are essentially second-class citizens. It is an assumption that actively harms women and children.

For many years, I contentedly accepted the notion that achieving my goals meant not having kids. But as I watch my male colleagues become proud papas, it occurs to me that even though I have risen in my profession, I am still not an equal citizen because, unlike my male colleagues, I have to think twice about having kids because our culture is so hostile to working mothers. But I have decided to try to have a baby anyway. I am ashamed that I allowed an anti-woman culture to dictate my reproductive choices for so long. My husband and I have so much to give to and to share with a child.

Fortunately, being lawyers in our late 30s/early 40s means this is an ideal time to become parents. My husband and I can come and go as we please, structure our schedules in an extremely flexible manner and can easily stay home if a child is sick.

Shell said...

Personally, I think being a nurse is great for a mother. Here in the U.S. at least, schedules for nurses can be quite flexible. I know one woman with small children who works just one shift a month in a NICU unit, so that she can keep up her skills. Another friend worked one shift a week when her children were young. When they had a temporary financial setback, she worked more shifts for a few months, so they could get caught up. Her husband couldn't work any more since he is in the military. Now she is back to working one shift a week.

And nursing skills are wonderful to have, so you can take care of your family if the need arises. I know a young mother who is a nurse, but does not work outside the home. Her daughter is receiving chemotherapy for cancer, and she is able to take especially good care of her. In fact, she was the one who first detected that something very subtle was wrong with her, which lead to the cancer diagnosis.

Pendragon said...

I find it hard to believe that being caring is a particularly feminine trait. I have met too many uncaring women and too many caring men (as well as caring women and uncaring men) to believe that for a minute! People are all different, and they can't be fit into these neat little boxes based on sex.

Buffy said...

Just a note to Pendragon - I agree men can be very caring indeed. I don't think anyone is suggesting men leave all the childcare to women. It's important that babies and children spend quality time with Daddy as well as Mummy. However, women are hardwired biologically for nurturing in a way that men are hardwired for competition. To overlook these biological facts is to distort reality.

Gothelittle Rose said...

Though it's good for a father to take responsibility with caring for his children, young babies need to spend a lot of time in close proximity to Mommy in order to optimize health and weight gain. Mothers don't just automagically know what their babies need all the time. The cues are more easily and naturally read through hours and hours of closeness. When I had to work outside the home, when my son was a year old, I was in such close tune with him that I knew what was bothering him before he did. Within a few weeks of working 40hrs/week outside the home, I realized that I was losing that ability. It was heartbreaking...

Anyways... Though there's a definite point to be made in the importance of not seeing the mother as the only caretaker of all the children, it's also important to emphasize the importance of having an infant stay close to his or her mother.

It's also important for things like milk production.

Karen said...

My mom was a nurse and I can tell you, that working the night shift is a bad deal all around!! People who think it is a good idea completely forget the fact that mommy needs to sleep some time! When my mom would come home, drive us to school, then take a few hours nap before we got home, she would be cranky and exhausted and have NO energy for cooking, cleaning, housework, or helping us with our homework. People would call on the phone, the sun would bother her, and on the weekends the younger kids were too noisy and she couldn't sleep and would be the grouchiest person in the world. It is a known fact that people who work graveyard cut 10 years off their lifespans, eat poorly, gain weight, and average only 6 hours sleep in a 24 hour period. VERY bad idea.

Linda said...

It's funny you mention the midwives.. here, in Holland almost all births are attended by midwives (unless you have a medical complication, that's when the gyn comes in)

However.. both my 'midwives' were actually, well, how do you call them.. 'midhusbands'? Men any way.

It wasn't that bad, because apart from poking the belly every now and then and moving the ultrasound-camera over it, they don't do much until birth.

One thing that was hard for me was the fact that the 'midwive' who attended Gabriel's birth was actually a dad from a girl in my daughter's class.. now THAT's awkward ;)

Greetings from the netherlands!

Anonymous said...

I'm coming to this post late, as the result of a google search. It was refreshing to see this point of view. From the time I was young, it was expected that I would have a high-powered, lucrative, competitive job. My parents wanted this for my own good - they wanted me to be financially safe and independent. However, I am now 38, and I have experienced nothing but repeated failures and excessive stress. I think I was launched at the wrong angle, and could never maintain that projectory. My latest endeavor is a very tough clinical graduate program - all for the sake of serving my husband/family better, because it would make me financially stable and independent, with flexibility, ability to get a job anywhere, etc. It's very resourceful in theory. But the damage it has caused to myself, and how unfeminine and dejected I feel....that makes me less than the wife I know I could be if I were happier. For me to continue with this - first of all, I probably will crash again. But even if I succeeded, I now see that success in this area would come at the price of sacrifice of all that I truly care about - all in the name of playing it financially safe. I realize that I need work that is in a calmer and more traditionally feminine role - and yes, that means lower paid, less competitive - something ideal for the "quiet life". Then I'd have more time and energy for my husband, my religious community, our home, etc. And I'd feel more natural. So I'm seriously thinking about dropping out now and just pursuing other work, yes, less lucrative work, but something that enables me to still focus on my home life. Btw, I would *love* to be a housewife if it were a possibility for us - I also feel that that is a wonderful, blessed life endeavor - but anyway, I just wanted to say, seeing this post was comforting in my present stressful time.