Monday, February 04, 2008

Comment and martini inspired thoughts on career and family

Valerie's comment below got me to thinking even more, especially about this little tidbit:

Among other things, this means that if you are a two-earner couple, if you are going to get the kid-rearing job done adequately, at least one parent needs to have a job with some serious flexibility.
She goes on to explain that she came of age in the 70s and believed that she should pursue a career and the family stuff would work itself out. Well, I came of age in 80s and I don't know what wave of feminism that puts me in, but I was under the impression that the structure of the business world was going to change dramatically. Stop laughing, I really thought that. And when I was in a corporate job, I tried to change the culture myself.

Here's the logical extension (to me) of what Valerie's saying. In order to parent well, one parent needs a flexible job. In our culture, flexible jobs tend not to pay well or have good career paths (often they have no career path). Couldn't flexible jobs pay well and/or have good career paths? I'm annoyed by the idea that in order to create a flexible job for myself, I may well have to step off the career path I'm on. And that sucks.

The thing is, I didn't pursue a career with blind ambition. I, like a lot of people I know, stumbled around for a while, taking jobs and pursuing opportunities for various reasons. I went to grad school to pursue something I loved and then found out there was no money in it and I didn't really love it as much as I thought I did. I took a corporate job to pay the bills and discovered that I really like a lot about it. Then back to grad school, a few adjunct positions and now a job in a field that I really like. I couldn't have gone into this with my eyes open. I had no idea where I was going. And quite frankly, I don't think I should have known. Some people may know what they're going to do when they grow up, but I'm still figuring it out. And just when I think I know, I find myself constrained by a work culture and school culture that doesn't acknowledge a) the existence of children (or partners or ailing parents, etc.) or b) the fact that many families are dual career. Sigh.

It doesn't help that some child-free folks are commenting on an old blog post of mine. Note to them: Seriously folks, I don't want to cramp your style. You're not going to find to many parents more sympathetic to your point of view than me. But if you want to have a discussion, let's be civil about it. Incivility and/or stupidity will just get your comment deleted. Honestly, I want a world where we can all pursue our careers and goals and not get in each other's way.

I think that's all for now. If anyone knows of legal ways I can become independently wealthy, let me know.