My partner and I are very open about our professional lives. Despite always working in different fields, we have always encouraged and supported one another. Lately, I have been antsy. Thoughts of going back to college or focusing on a nontraditional professional path have cluttered my mind. Although unhappy with the thought of a 9-5 job for the next thirty years, I never considered not working until he casually mentioned it.
Growing up, my mother was a stay at home mom. My two older brothers and I made parenting three full time jobs, causing many premature gray hairs. Her strength and fierce independence were far from what society said was typical in stay at home moms. With such a role model, I grew into an very independent person, never wanting to rely on anyone. I was sure I would work until my dying day. My partner and I have no kids so why should I not work? After leaving the military with a degree, having trouble finding a job in my degreed field, and working in a job just to say “I am employed!” I learned a lot about the workforce and myself. Mostly, I learned I hated the typical 9-5 rat race.
I have never had an issue with women choosing to stay at home to raise their children, which is harder than any crap job out there. What about the rest of us? Why does it feel wrong to be financially supported by another? Is it my feminist sensibilities or mistrust that causes me to think twice before quitting my job to pursue my dream? The thought of being financially supported by my partner makes me twitch and feel like an unproductive member of society.
Is it an exercise in trust? Do I trust my partner? Absolutely! Do I want to toss all my crappy days into the wind and try for my far-fetched dream? Yep, Sure do. Why is it so difficult? Many women struggled and some are still struggling to join the workforce that I am so exciting to depart from.
Coming from a military family, serving in the military (Go Air Force!) and essentially working consistently since I was legally able to have taught me the value of hard work. Over the years it became part of my identity. Our Culture still views women in a dichotomy; you have working women and women who raise children. Those in between are looked at with skepticism. They are seen as either lazy or rich. I am neither.
This issue is not just a woman’s though. Reversing the situation, I would have given my partner the same option. I question if he would have taken the opportunity to fulfill a dream because of the societal cultivated stigmas. The pressures to be the “bread winner” are still in our culture. Even recently, I ran into a number of articles claiming that the fabric of our culture is being torn apart, because woman now make up 40% of heads of household.
Even in this modern age we cannot escape the societal pressure from hundreds of years ago. If balancing the gender rolls and giving both sexes the option of fulfilling themselves is tearing apart the fabric of society, then maybe we should encourage the retiring of this outdating quilt that no longer fits into our new diverse culture.