I know it’s a few weeks old by now, but I found this Newsweek article very interesting. It talks about how even though women are doing a lot of amazing things professionally, as they become mothers they find that both jobs and motherhood are both full time endeavors. According to the article, many, many women are being driven crazy trying to do both well.
I’m not sure what can or should be done on a societal level to fix this problem. For all I know, it may not even be much of a problem. But if it is I am deeply skeptical that the solutions are the things suggested by the article’s author (who actually wrote a book on this same topic) like government-provided daycare and "progressive tax policies that would transfer our nation’s wealth back to the middle class". (Just because we’re liberal Mormons here, it doesn’t mean we’re all on the left politically.) Of course, a discussion on public policy isn’t what I intend with this post. The thing is that my wife and I will one day have kids. Is she doomed to be one "of the mothers [who] appear. . . to have lost nearly all sense of themselves as adult women"? Does being Mormon offer any insights into this issue? Maybe the Proclamation on the Family affirms that this is just the lot of women. (I sure hope not.)
Looking at our own situation, it seems to "make more sense" for Amy to be the one to spend more time at home with our kids: her career as a music therapist can be quite flexible if necessary, and as a (future) lawyer I’m likely to make more money. But I wonder if that simple analysis is really all there is to it. If it works out that way she’ll also be the one to deal with the psychological issues of trading off child rearing and fully pursuing professional achievements. On the other hand, if I were to stay home while she worked, I’d likely face those same uncomfortable issues. Raising kids is a wonderful thing, or so I’m told; does it have to come at the expense of personal fulfillment, or is there some other way?
I’ve actually had some good examples of women balancing raising kids and pursuing professional goals in my life. My own parents, for example, went to such lengths as to start their own private school for us kids to attend, at least partly for the purpose of being closely involved in our education and our lives in general growing up. Since then my mother has recently completed her PhD, and is now on a university faculty and runs her own teacher training program, putting into use the experience and training she got running her own school. This is a pretty unique way of achieving a professional/parental balance, and when I ask her she just mentions how we each have to find our own path and make it work for our own situation. That advice is somewhat helpful, but perhaps not as specific as one would like.
Any thoughts on this one? This is all still ahead of me, but it is something I consider. I find it interesting that even these days it’s mostly women who feel the strain of "doing it all", when you’d think that if it were important to men see their kids raised well they might be feeling some of the same stresses. I wonder how I (we) can arrange things for both of us to feel great about how our kids are raised and how our professional lives unfold.