No, I Am Not A Career Woman

I hear this dichotamy a lot. This idea that women who have children later did so because they were working on building their career. Now, I find it great that people, that women, find careers that they are passionate about and love. There’s nothing wrong to me about waiting to have children until your career is established. But that isn’t the only way that a delay in family starting happens. I am not one of these women.

I sacrificed everything to make having a family a priority. And I failed.

I was the girl who, when asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, said, “A wife.” I went to college keeping my eye constantly out for a potential mate. I had a plan, a dream, and I knew what I wanted out of life. That included getting married right out of college, having four children, being a dedicated stay-at-home wife and mother. I made every choice in my life based on achieving that goal.

My parents were 27 when they married. No way was I going to be that old! Children before 30. Why is that always the age women pressure themselves about? What will I accomplish by thirty?

When people, particularly men, talk about what a shame it is that family building is often getting postponed in America, they always think it is because the women in question a) don’t care, b) don’t realize they have a time limit (seriously? How could we possibly not know that given how often that information is shoved in our faces?) c) put building a career on priority.

I cared with all my heart. My dream in life was to be a young mother.

But there are some things we cannot control. I couldn’t force any of the men I dated to marry me (I tried my darndest with several of them. Sorry, guys!). I couldn’t rush the time it took for me to meet my husband. Twenty-seven came and went. I had done none of the things I planned to do sooner than my parents had. I had nothing else to show for it, though.¬†I had no fancy career. Or even a solid and steady career to show why I was not yet a wife and mother.

I was twenty-nine before I met the right guy for me to start a family with. I’ll be thirty-one when we get married. All those plans of having a family by 30 are gone. I won’t be a young mother like I always wanted. I’ll be an average-age mother (if the universe doesn’t have more nasty surprises in store for me!)

Being a woman who put career first was never my plan, but now I think maybe it should have been. I might still be childless at 31, but I’d have something I built that I could be proud of instead of a stream of data entry jobs that were a filler while I waited for my dream of being a stay-at-home mom to materialize.

So no, there is not one path that leads to family and another path that leads to career. It’s rarely that black and white. I was on the family path the whole time, but here I am still childless.

About Ambaa

Ambaa is an American woman of European ancestry who is also a practicing Hindu. She is fascinated with questions of philosophy, culture, and the meaning of life. Join her in the journey to explore how a non-Indian convert to Hinduism experiences her religion.

  • Siobhan Green

    thank you. My marriage at 29, my first child at 32 and last at 34, had NOTHING to do with a plan or career goals, and everything to do with the fact that I met the love of my life at age 26. Friends who remain unmarried are not doing so by choice but rather that they have not met the right guy for them. Perhaps the difference is that we don’t NEED to get married to anyone just to survive like it used to be, so we can be more selective about who we partner with. After seeing our parents generation of unhappy couples and divorced families, I think being more selective makes sense. It sometimes ends up that you find the right partner years – even decades – after you “plan” to.

    • Ambaa

      I am glad that I held out for the right person because my fiance is absolutely perfect for me and the most wonderful man I’ve ever known. I couldn’t be more happy with him!

  • Andrea

    Stop thinking that there’s a script you need to follow. Life happens as it does. And when we get smug about how perfectly we’ve followed the script, it throws us a curve ball. Don’t get caught up in how it should be; just live what is.

    • Ambaa

      Easier said than done! ;)

  • Garvi Sheth

    It takes serious guts to say something like this, especially against the pressure to always seem in-control and pretend as though everything is going effortlessly according to your plan. Mad props for admitting that it doesn’t always work that way, and for exposing the false dichotomy between “career women” and “family women.”

    Also, I think you have plenty of professional accomplishments to be proud of! You started a publishing company for goodness sake. You’ve written so many books. You are not at the peak of your career yet- which is what I think makes it so exciting, to see how far you’ll rise with your ambitions!

    No less important is the fact that, although you are not yet a mother, you have found somebody wonderful for you, you’re making a home and a family for each other and helping each other to self-actualize: and whenever it happens, you both will be amazing parents. =)

  • Margaret Placentra Johnston

    I think there are a lot of benefits to waiting until your thirties to have children. Most of us are more mature by then, and better prepared to handle any complex needs that our children may present. As someone who bore a child at 34 and another at 37, I KNOW I was able to offer my children a better mother than I could have at 25 or even 29. Please don’t regret the time you spent “maturing.” You never know what challenges raising your children may present. Being fully beyond your own childhood will no doubt leave you with more solid resources to deal with them.

    • Ambaa

      That is so true!

  • Tom Rapsas

    My wife was 39 when we had our first child who is a treasure. Ambaa, I think you will find it is better late than never! Whether it is love or work or almost anything else in life, it seems like the Universe operates on its own schedule, even with our best intentions. Thanks for sharing!~Tom

    • Ambaa

      It is encouraging to hear that! :)