Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Pretty much unconcerned...

I heard Linda Hirshman on Minnesota Public Radio this morning, talking about that book. I was intrigued, so I requested it from the library. In hearing her arguments on MPR, I kind of had the attitude of "meh, whatever." Her argument is basically that staying home and raising children is not a meaningful life in the way that she defines it.

Her last example in the book is apparently a husband and wife who are both doctors. The woman works family practice part time, takes care of the children the rest of the time. The man works 70+ hours a week in a hospital, taking care of children with cancer while also looking for a cure for children's cancer. In the marriage, they are clearly both doing meaningful work, both have advanced degrees, but whereas the woman has time to dote on her children, the man doesn't. He wrote to Linda Hirshman saying he felt guilty about this. Hirshman's response? He might never find the cure for cancer, but his wife certainly never will.


Whether I will get married or not is up in the air at this point, but let's say, for the sake of thinking about this rationally, that I continue to date S and also continue with my advanced degree, and that S and I get married at some point, and I finish my degree.

First of all, S fully supports my desire to become a librarian. I know that he, in fact, loves that I am in graduate school. He sees me as his intellectual equal, especially if he goes on to get another degree or two, depending on whatever his calling may be. S encourages me in my studies, and is proud of me.

Second, I do not know if S and I would be blessed with children, but children are the stuff of formation. Obviously, right now I am rather selfish, look out for my own needs and desires and possibly my future husband's needs and desires, but overall, I want what I want. This may mean a certain level of freedom, but parenthood is life altering. I can understand some people not wanting to alter their lives in such a way. There would be times of frustration, but I think it would ultimately be incredibly rewarding to be parents.

Third, "my chosen career" is almost completely compatible with family life. Librarians tend to be women, and employers are flexible to a certain extent. Hours in public libraries tend to be either part time or little more than 40-hours in an exempt position. There are many ways of having library experience that don't include high-stress positions. I can always volunteer, work part-time, serve on a board, or audit courses to keep my resumé fresh to protect my job opportunities in case of divorce or widowhood.

Fourth, S is an enlightened sort of man. He would not expect me to stay home all the time with our brood unless I wanted to, and has said he is willing to stay home with children if I am the primary breadwinner. He is A-OK with this idea. I have asked specifically about this, and I feel a spirit of support and compromise in my relationship with this man. He is not there to undermine my career or keep me in the kitchen.

So I plan to read Linda Hirshman's manifesto and see what it's about, but I feel very comfortable with what my life could be like in the coming years.

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