A very close friend of mine recently found herself in the no-win situation between her lover and his teenage daughter. The daughter quit college within 24 hours of arriving, and her divorced parents allowed her to come home without insisting she give it longer than a day. My close friend was recently engaged to, and moved in with, the father of this girl. Discussions began about what rules should be implemented for an 18-yr-old living back at home and not going to school. Should she get a job? Should she have to pay rent? Between my good friend, her fiance, and the teenager, as you can imagine, there is a wide difference of opinion on what the rules should be.
The teenager said she just wants to be a “slacker” for a year. This didn’t sit well with my friend, who has worked since she was 16, put herself through college, often held two or more jobs, and at the age of 43, has never not had a job. Her fiance isn’t quite as put off by the request. Apparently he’s considering it. When my friend expressed shock at this consideration, her fiance stated “Well, not all women want to be career women like you.”
And therein lies my anger. I think its sort of grown to a small outrage. At first it sounded like a compliment. Or was it insulting? Is there a word for an insult hidden in a compliment? I know my friend very well, and he’s been dating her for three or four years so he does too. Well enough to know that there have been times in her life when she deeply wanted to have a baby. Just because that didn’t happen, doesn’t mean that she wouldn’t have been a great mother. I know for a fact she would be a phenomenal mom.
But instead, she’s had a remarkable career, because that is what she has focused on. She would have exceled at whatever endeavor she chose, be it a career, motherhood, or anything, because she is a driven, smart, balanced, and quality human being who takes pride in her accomplishments and continues to set and achieve goals throughout her life. This is how she lives, regardless of the road life has taken her. So far, that road hasn’t included motherhood. Perhaps it will only include step-motherhood. But whatever happens, I know that she’ll take it on with style and grace because that is how she takes on life.
I don’t know the content of their entire discussion, but I can’t stop thinking about his statement: “Well, not all women want to be career women like you.” It was a jab. And perhaps she deserved it, I don’t know what she said to him leading up to it. But it really bothers me because the statement completely categorizes her or pigeon-holes her, or labels her: career woman. No person deserves one label. We are all many things, and our lives change. Sometimes we are dreaming of being the other thing. Being labeled or categorized is an attack on those dreams, or can be. Its an assault to the courage we need to follow our dreams.
So keep in mind, if anyone ever tries to put a label on you, or categorize you as one thing, remember: Just because your life went one way, and not another, doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t have been really fucking great at the other option. Don’t let them discourage you from trying it.
Article written by Julie Walker