Many of us spend much of our younger years sweating over what we’re going to do or be when we grow up. It’s all focused on our work. As if our work is a testament to our life and who we are as a person. I often wonder if this is a very American thing. When children in France or Italy are growing up, are they sweating over what they’re going to be? Do they have crises in college if they haven’t yet declared a major? Are they panicking when they graduate if they don’t know how their major will apply to their work?
And what does this say about us, that we put so much weight into our identity associated with our work?
Regardless of what it says, I think this is such a big reason why I, and many KT BFFs have had such an identity crisis since becoming moms. All of a sudden, work matters a whole lot less. That’s not to say we don’t take pride in our work but what used to seem so important and life shattering seems to pale in comparison to the importance of raising a child and teaching them to be a good person. After years of being identified with what we’ve accomplished professionally, suddenly it comes to a screeching halt and we are most consumed with what we’re accomplishing personally…this job that never ends….raising this little one.
A KT friend just emailed me and told me about this fabulous luncheon she had yesterday with Dee Dee Myers and many other professional women. Dee Dee Myers is personal working hero of mine considering she was the first female White House press secretary…and for Clinton, nonetheless. She has a new book out “Why Women Should Rule The World” and I saw her on Colbert and knew I had to have this book. I mean, doesn’t that title say enough?
Anyhow, apparently one of the women at this luncheon made a comment that really struck me – even though I wasn’t in the room. She said:
“We (women) are told that we need to grow up, go to college and get a good job. But then once we have children, no one tells us what to do after that.”
Amen sister. Let me add to that and say – we are met with criticism and constant media banter and judgement over whatever it is we do decide to do after that – working too much? putting your child in childcare too early? not working and disappointing future generations of women? Need I go on?
I guess my job is to teach my daughter that when she grows up, the whole picture matters, not just the financial and professional one. Beyond that, all I can say is I plan to read Dee Dee’s book.