My brother posted an article from The Washington Post on Facebook and a particular passage stuck out to me:

Lauren wrestles with the balance between wanting a lot from her job and the reality that she has bills and debt. Her parents and grandparents didn’t have the kinds of expectations for work that she has: “My mom never even thought about a career. She was supposed to marry her high-school boyfriend and become a housewife.
Lauren wants to do something meaningful, putting her in step with what countless surveys find: Twentysomethings want careers that have an impact beyond their bank account.

I feel the need to contribute to society,” she says. “It comes from the fact that I feel so incredibly fortunate that I was able to go to college, live in a wonderful city, and go to an incredible law school. I definitely feel like I have more privilege than my parents.

“One thing I wonder is if you can ever love a job. That would be so amazing if you found something you felt passionately about and every morning you woke up and were excited to go to work.”

– From The Washington Post article, “Are Twentysomethings Expecting Too Much?(emphasis mine)

I love the juxtaposition of the two bolded sentences. As if there is nothing meaningful about getting married and being a housewife. Truly, I want to smack both the writer of this article and the woman quoted in the article. (Although, perhaps the quoted woman is not making the implication that being a housewife and raising children is not meaningful.) This is not just another post on what is better or more meaningful, a career or raising children. I think both are valid routes to a meaningful and fulfilling life.

What my gripe centers on is the assumption that being at home and raising kids and getting married are inherently UNmeaningful activities. That “important work” is somehow only to be found in a career or being famous or doing something grand.

Truly, I can’t think of contributing more to society than RAISING future society MEMBERS. *eyerolls* Ok, maybe this will turn into a rant post. haha. Plus, it is in the nitty gritty BORING parts of life in which LIFE is actually lived! I am even more reminded of the book, The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy, and “Women’s Work”, and am supremely grateful to have read it.

The best I can do is quote my own review of this book to encapsulate how I feel about this subject:

All I can say is that I read about this book on a Christian blog that extolled the virtues of repetitive “women’s work” and it rang particularly close to home for me. After all, I spend all day taking care of a toddler and doing dishes about a million times. I do laundry almost every other day and I spend most of my day picking up after (or encouraging my son to) my little boy.

Mostly, I took comfort in the idea that our daily work of laundry, cooking, cleaning as being worship and holy. That what we do to take care of ourselves and others can be both an act of indifference or an act of supreme love. That the work that can seem contemptful in the eyes of “feminists” is actually a beautiful and vital thing, that makes me happy and joyful. After all, who wants 90% of what they do all day to be deemed as lowly or simple?

It is indeed this contempt and sneer I hear in the tone of the article and Lauren, the woman quoted at the end. I’m not sneering at folks who are working hard to pay off student loans, to pay for their mortgage and their kids clothes and food. Why should I be looked down simply because I’ve chosen to stay at home? I realize that it is a luxury in this sense, for me to stay at home. Many women want to stay at home but cannot afford to do so. However, I also know that there are many women who want to go to work but also, ironically, cannot afford to do so, because the childcare itself would cost more than the money they would make.

Instead, we should sneer at these twentysomethings who think that every single aspect of their life (especially work) should be filled to the brim with Meaning and Significance. (Just kidding! Kind of…)

Perhaps I am most scornful because I used to think in this manner. I wanted to change the world, etc. I believed I was super special. (And of course, that part is still true. I am super special.) Now that I am older and hopefully wiser, I see that there are many ways to save the world. That you are not shunted into either a path of Meaning or Selling Out. You choose to invest whatever life you have with meaning. You choose to make whatever you choose as a way of selling out.

There is no perfect life or perfect job. There is only the one that you have. To quote Tim Gunn, “Make it work.”

Advertisements