June Cleaver hates my guts.

I get as stressed out at work as the next person. There are people at my job who routinely make me see red, and projects that I’d like to put off until the next millennium. But, for the most part, I really like my job. I like using my intelligence and knowing that the things I work on actually have an effect on a 16 billion dollar company. I don’t mind being a corporate whore, and as much as I’ll mutter about wanting an office I secretly enjoy working in the cube farm.

I work for a successful company and I’m lucky to have done well so far. I’ve started a career here and while I’ll give more on my history with this company later, for now let’s just say that I’ve worked here for a while and don’t plan on going anywhere else anytime soon.

But this is all just background for my real topic today.

There are a group of us girls/ladies/women/female employees types who regularly have lunch together. The 6 of us work in the same department and are around the same age so we have a kind of natural bond. A few weeks ago, our topic turned to marriage and children.

The group is in various stages of relationships – 2 are single, 4 are attached and living with their boyfriends – but none of us are married or engaged. What I found interesting was that our conversation wasn’t about rings or weddings or cute little babies or swoon mush blah blah blah. It was about working mothers, and what our mothers did, and how our mothers and fathers worked about the work/kids/money relationship – and what we planned to do.

It struck me that within, I don’t know, 10 years? this will be a decision that each of us will have to make. And I wonder what each of us will do. Who will give up their career to raise children? Who will never have children? Who will do the work/family juggle, and who will be successful at that?

Last night Matt and I had a similar discussion. I’m not exactly sure how it came up other than that he was talking about a conversation that he had with his Dad and somehow we started talking about how his parents have very traditional gender roles (Mom stayed home with the kids; Dad was the provider) and mine did too.

I told him a little about the conversation that the ‘work ladies’ and I had and how I wondered what each of us would do. I said, “I wonder which of them will give up their career to raise kids.” And Matt replied, “I know you wouldn’t!”

If it seems like his comment was meant to be harsh, let me point out that it wasn’t at all. We’ve talked frequently about the fact that I (at this point anyway) don’t have an overwhelming desire to have kids. I am more than willing to admit that my biological clock and maternal instinct will probably take over at some point and that I will more than likely have children someday, but right now I am not one of those women who rushes to hold the nearest baby or goes ga-ga over little kids.

I am lucky that Matt respects this and that he nods agreeingly when I tell him that he’ll be a stay-at-home-Dad someday. I am lucky to be in a relationship where Matt cooks most of the time, where we split the chores, and where we both equally respect and support each other’s work and goals. I am also lucky to work in an environment that is dominated by strong, intelligent women. My boss (a Director) is a woman. Her boss (a VP) is a woman, and so is the Executive VP.

This morning on the Today show there was piece about ‘what men want’. Do they want their wives to be strong, modern women (at the expense of a sparkling house and 4 course meals)? Or do they really want to go back to the days of June Cleaver? The answer, according to the Today show, was that while men might occasionally fantasize about dinner on time every night, a floor so clean you could eat off of it, and a perfectly coiffed, smiling wife – that’s not what they really want.

Good. Because if Matt regularly ate my cooking, he’d probably be malnurished or dead from food poisoning. So June Cleaver can kiss my ass.

I’m not sure what the point of today’s rambling is, other than to say:

  • It’s interesting that these are the struggles that women in my generation will face. No more “I wish I could vote” or “I wish I had a challenging and rewarding career” but “I have options and I don’t know which one to choose.”
  • I’m glad that I will be able to make my own choice when the time comes. That I am in a relationship with someone who believes that the things that I do are important and that it won’t kill him to cook dinner.
  • It’ll be interesting to see what happens in 10 years. What choices I make and how my opinions on this will change. Because lord knows how much I appreciate women who stay home with their children.

So get back to me in 10 years. I’ll eat crow when I’ve had 3 kids and when dinner is on the table promptly at 6 every night. But until then, this is my story and I’m sticking to it.

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