Motherhood and Marriage

It’s that time of life, people I know are settling down and getting their lives in order, and so these two articles feel particularly pertinent:

  1. Delaying marriage and childrearing is more stressful

The relevant quote of interest here:

Her study found that working mothers in particular give up leisure time and sleep (compared with mothers not in the labor force) to meet the demands of child rearing and jobs. The study founds that, “Large percentages of mothers, no matter their labor force status, report they ‘are always rushed,’ are ‘multitasking most of the time,’ and that they have ‘too little time for themselves.’”

  1. Which careers have the biggest “Mommy Penalty”

The two quotes of interest here:

Among highly educated women who take time off from their careers to raise their children, women with M.B.A.’s suffer the largest percentage “mommy penalty,” while those with medical degrees suffer the lowest proportionate loss, with female Ph.D.’s and lawyers falling somewhere in between.

And:

“In general, women appear to be moving in the direction of choosing professions and specialties within professions that are consistent with their greater desire for workplace flexibility,” Professors Goldin and Katz write.

Yes, it’s true that I can’t see myself getting married or having kids anytime soon, mainly because I feel like I still need to put the finishing touches on myself. However, the ennui that grips me from time to time stems primarily from me constantly asking myself “Why am I doing all this again?” and being unable to come up with a good answer. Growing up, the answer was simple, I wanted to better myself to have a better future. A better future at the time entailed having a broader dating pool than what a woman of my background could stereotypically expect (this is something I’ll have to discuss later), and by raising my own earning worth I’d be improving the life of any future progeny as well. It seemed so simple then, I imagined that if I focused on my own goals and graduated and worked, love would happen on its own but wasn’t something I should have to think about too hard.

At this point in my life, though, much as I’m in love with the idea of love and don’t plan on exiting the dating pool anytime soon, I find myself unable to really commit to the idea of marriage and children especially if it means that what I’m signing up for is really more of the same (you know, all the drudgery of domestic work on top of managing my own career goals). If that’s the case, and all that changes is my earning potential but I’m still expected to be a Stepford wife, then why should I want it? Is it really worth the cost? Granted, it sounds nice, doesn’t it: to have a husband whom I love, to have children whom I adore, to have a home to own, to fulfill the quintessential American dream.

That’s the fundamental problem I find myself facing now: do I pursue passion or do I give in to domesticity? Ideally, I would want it all, I’d have the love of my life and balance the career and everything else, and do it well. However, the more time passes the more it feels like I’m going to be forced to choose one over the other, and I don’t have forever to waste dating dead ends. It’s been fun, and it could continue to be fun, but do I gain anything of value from it? Other than the great stories, it’s just been a recipe for delayed heartache.

This is where my ought to remember that what I need is to embrace my own individual pursuit of happiness; which may not entail the 2.5 kids, husband, and home with a white picket fence, and there is no reason why it should. Although I want it, I want it only with a particular person, and until they enter the picture on a permanent basis I shall have to recall that happiness stems not from having what you want, but wanting what you have (even though that sounds more like contentment to me, which is another can of worms — how can you ever actually be content with life? There is too much to do to be happy enough to want to stop experiencing it).

What are your thoughts?

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