Monday, January 26, 2009

Introspection and Perspicacity

I have a confession to make. Over the years I have tried to avoid Martha Stewart's influence. Don't know why, really. I don't think she's evil or anything.

Perhaps it has something to do with her focus on domestic bliss. She cooks, cleans, arranges, crafts, entertains and even gardens to perfection. I, on the other hand, was the girl in my pre-teen gaggle who didn't want to get married and start a family right away. I wanted a career!

Sitting on the swings at the local park, I shared my secrets and divulged my dreams: a maid would do all my housework. My home would be a palace! With polished wood and roomy spaces. Eight long years was plenty of time to conquer the business world and rise to a lofty rung on the corporate ladder. At the ripe old age of 26 I would be ready to start a family. Then I would have three or four gorgeous and intelligent children with a charming prince of a husband and my life would be picture perfect.

Now that I've walked the road of stay-at-home mom for two years, I feel a bit sheepish. Those childhood goals molded my first post-college years. I enjoyed 12 (not 8) career years. And I didn't get nearly as high on the corporate ladder as I thought I would. (Though I certainly tried.) I did have a cleaning lady for 2 of those years. But I didn't get married and start a family by age 26. I married at 39 and gave birth to Little Sprout at the pivotal age of 42. I feel certain that I have more than a few career years left in me, if the fates allow.

What is even more strange is dabbling in Martha Stewart recipes and projects. Here is my list to date:

Chocolate-filled Eggs for Easter These are dramatic and delicious!
Tomato Tart ...layered with roasted garlic and fontina cheese
Felt Fortune Cookies made as favors for a February group dinner
Heart-shaped Soap easy and fun, especially with a soap kettle
Ginger Carrot Soup Sweet mercy, this soup is good!
Chai-Spiced Cider Punch I use the spice blend for mulled cider.

While the list isn't long, I use the recipes repeatedly and often. That Martha, she gets me every time!

Last evening I had a very introspective chat with a longtime (though not childhood) friend. She intimated to me reactions to old letters that her deceased parents had exchanged in the 1950's, when their young adult lives were just getting started. Her father, then traing to be a pilot, had written with a perspicacity that belied his years. Her mother had aspired to career success as a writer. They were going to conquer the world!

But life for most women in those days meant getting married and raising children at home. My friend's mother had gotten caught in that stereotypical role and ultimately had become embittered that her intellect (which was considerable and impressive) hadn't been enough to sail through the social mire.

Do today's stay-at-home moms still worry about being trapped in their child-rearing role? What are the economics of motherhood for today's woman? Are comeback moms opting back in as often as we'd like to think?

If my own experience is any indicator I would say yes, we still do worry. But perhaps not so much. What are your thoughts? Leave your comments either in the comments area or send me an e-mail. I'd love to hear what you think.


Anonymous said...

Karen, I have noticed that so many women get caught in that mommy mode. I even blogged about it. We get comfortable in that role and it becomes our sole identity.

Mommies need to be sure to integrate more of themselves into their mommy identities. It is possible, once the kids are done with the toddler years, for women to take up new ventures, to explore who they are, to find career which offeres flexibility. We sometimes think we have to just do that one thing. We feel guilty if we are not serving our families all the time. What better gift could we give our families than to develop our entire selves and be an excellent example to our children (boys as well as girls) than women are more.

Anonymous said...

er... THAT women are more.