Monday, June 01, 2009

Living with risk

Both Mr. Geeky and I had trouble sleeping. I stayed up playing WoW, which was fun, but as usual, I was a bit wound up afterward. Mr. Geeky was stressing a bit over a workshop he was having to lead today on writing abstracts. I started laughing because I used to run that very workshop. Lucky for him, I kept all my materials on Google docs. It made me think of all the little ways my presence might be missed at the college. They still have not replaced me, and I doubt they will for a very long time. I don't really miss it.

In my attempt to get to sleep last night, I started reading Leslie Bennetts' The Feminine Mistake. That probably made things worse. In reading the preface, I began to realize that her position comes largely out of her own experience of hearing about her grandmother's desitute situation caused by her grandfather leaving and her grandmother refusing to either work or remarry (a refusal caused in part by the mores of the day, but also, it seems, by some stubbornness). Unlike her grandmother, her mother worked her whole life, but took time out here and there to deal with family issues. So, she argues that her mother lost out on much-needed income by doing that.

Her other stories of friends whose husbands left them don't sound at all like the women I know. After all, Bennetts lives in either Manhatten or a tony New York suburb, where it takes a significant income to maintain even a modest lifestyle, and the women she describes are not living a modest lifestyle. So, yes, I might even say it's not too smart to rely on a single income to maintain an extravagant lifestyle, but most of the women I know who've left the job market have done so by cutting back on many expenses and deliberately living within their means. They clip coupons and shop around for the best prices. Vacations are trips to visit family. They drive inexpensive cars that they drive into the ground. Their clothes come from Old Navy and Target, not J. Crew or Ann Taylor. While they may have their kids in music lessons or put them into summer camp, they do so through careful budgeting.

In my adventures of volunteering and trying to create more community-based connections, I've run into not one, but two women who have Ph.D.'s and who are not employed in their fields. Both were scientists and one is now an academic staff member, the other a SAHM. SAHM's around here are actually a rare breed. Most of the women I have run into are nurses or work part-time in some way to allow for flexibility. I know a few men who have flexible jobs. Although I may end up a SAHM, I am hoping that the consulting works out or I find a flexible job in the future. And it irks me a bit that Bennetts would assume I'm not being smart. I know the risk I'm taking. I hope Mr. Geeky doesn't run off with a sexy computer scientist and leave me to care for the kids. If he does, then I'll figure it out, probably move to an area with a lower cost of living, and find a job doing pretty much anything just to pay the bills. Yeah, I've thought about it, mostly in those moments when Mr. Geeky is running late from a meeting and I immediately think he's dead on the side of the road. I may be optimistic, but unlike the women Bennetts describes, I'm no Pollyanna. I've considered the worst cast scenario and have decided I can live with it.