I have never met a woman who has “never worked a day in her life.”
But here are women I do know:
A mom with a high-powered job and a husband with a high-powered job who works her Blackberry like a crazy person while driving her sons to soccer, plays, and school events. Always tired, usually happy.
A mom who trained as a lawyer and regrets the school debt that keeps her in the office and out of her home.
A mom who married while still in college, had her first child immediately, teaches music out of her home and loves every minute with her children, regretting nothing.
A mom who wistfully wishes she had gone on to law school but at the time really, really wanted a family and doesn’t regret the choice even though she wishes she could have done both.
A mom who juggles travel and stress of a high powered career while her husband stays home and cares for the children, and who alternates between being sad about missing mommy moments and being joyful at her career.
An immigrant who works hard jobs to support her children so they can go to school and grow up in America.
A mom who left a good, impressive job when her second daughter was born and never looked back.
A mom who misses working but stays home because no one can care for her autistic daughter the way she can.
A woman who married because she got pregnant young and, despite what all the tut-tutters predicted, has a blissful marriage and lovely family, even if she never quite finished school.
A mom who is trained in the medical field and who makes more working two days a week than most of us can working full time, somehow hitting the sweet spot.
A woman who never met Mr. Right and never had children and whose successful career is, in part, a byproduct of that fact, who would do things differently if she had a second chance.
A woman who had a fantastic and exciting career, married late, struggled with infertility, and adopted, leaving her career with joyful glee to dive into motherhood with wild abandon.
A single mom who would have been a stay-at-home mom happily if her husband hadn’t left to start a new family with someone else.
A widowed mother whose insurance pays for her children’s home and education, plus her own advanced degree studies, but who would give anything to have her husband back.
A mom who writes and parents in a maddening whirlwind and always feels like a failure, except when she feels like a million bucks. (Ok, that one is me.)
Life is about choices, yes. But the wild thing is that we don’t know where those choices will lead. Sometimes we regret the choices we made even if we made them in good faith at the time. Sometimes we don’t even when people said we would. Sometimes life steps in and makes our choices for us.
I don’t think I know one woman, working or not, who would say the way she did life is the only right way to do life.
It’s all a bit much to reduce to a political bumper-sticker, don’t you think?
photo by omninate on Flickr Commons