I’m a career girl. I have been since I was 22, and I don’t see any end in sight. Unless, that is, I win the lottery and in that case you’ll find the bf and I shacked up on a teeny tiny island in Belize somewhere. But I digress, I can’t imagine not feeling that drive or the ambition to learn and grow. This is all I know. The men of my generation, however, have seemingly taken a slightly different approach when it comes to career.
In the 50s women had but a few functions: wife, mother, housekeeper, cook, devoted member of the ladies league. Add a weekly bridge game and mad martini making skills, and poof the perfect wife. Perfect woman, really. Today, not only are the aforementioned prerequisites expected of us (minus the ladies league membership), we are also expected to be business leaders, bread winners and high paid earners all the while looking and being utterly, and inarguably fabulous. I’m not complaining. I much prefer to live in a time where not only is this expected of me, but people have the perception that I’m capable of juggling all of these things. I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR. But before I start burning my bra, this isn’t exactly what this post is about. I want to talk about the men of my generation who have little to no professional aspirations.
To be fair, I know a lot of successful men. Men who I look up to and admire as thought leaders and game changers. But if I had a nickel for every time one of my girlfriends came to me complaining about a boy being threatened by their career or being disappointed t hat their partner wasn’t striving for a bit more professionally, I’d be a wealthy woman. He’s amazing in so many ways; he just doesn’t have his shit together. Translation: everything checks out with this guy, except for the fact that he still lives with mom at age 28 and works at Circuit City. I have a theory…
When I was growing up, my mom and dad always told me I could be whatever I wanted to be. Accomplish anything I set my mind to. They also told me that I didn’t have to marry or have children to have a fulfilling life, that this was my choice. But the biggest and perhaps most important message I took from my parents was to never solely rely on my partner. It’s one thing to enter a loving and mutually beneficial relationship with someone. But it’s another to completely rely on another human being, emotionally and financially. A woman must always be able to stand on her own two feet.
When my parents split in my 20s, my mom had no problem starting off on her new journey solo. I admire her so much for this. I remember her telling me about some of her peers who were also wanting to end their marriages but couldn’t as they feared they wouldn’t be able to support themselves. Could you imagine? Staying in an unhappy marriage and not being able to leave because you had no savings or assets and no means of generating an income? Scary stuff. I think my mother’s generation learned the hard way, which is why a lot of my female friends were brought up the same way. They were raised to be strong, independent people. Hoorah!
But in doing so, have we forgotten about our boys? Has the emphasis on encouraging our daughters been so important that we’ve forgotten to instill these same values in our sons? It’s as though it was expected of them, so no need to teach our boys to work hard, be bold, and foster their appetite to succeed. They’re men! They’ll figure out. This is simply not so.
So to all the mothers out there, all of whom I have mad respect for, remember to encourage your sons just as you would your daughters. We don’t want some blogger 20 years from now bitching about how their single friends can’t find a man they consider their equal. Let’s make sure all the kids out there kick ass, in whatever it is they decide to pursue.