Careering

So over on the board there is a thread going which has me thinking. It is a thread about whether women should stay at work after they have kids, or stay home. More accurately, it's about why more women stay home than men, and whether each woman is obliged to get back out there in the work force, and whether you're letting down all womankind if you don't.

I started off okay, not feeling particularly defensive. It was me who pretty much started the whole thread because I took objection to someone who posted about how she judges women who drop out, and how they should feel responsible for the fact that employers don't like to hire young women, and how they should worry that they won't be able to get back into the workplace. I think those three points are lame, bullshit and not her concern, in that order, and so I called her on it and we had a big conversation and it was all fine.

And then someone else posted, and her tone somehow set me off in a way that the original poster hadn't, and I did start to feel really defensive, but I couldn't figure out why. I know that my decision to stay home with Delphine was the right one, I am completely comfortable with it; it would be ridiculous for me to go back to my job I didn't particularly like, and put Delphine in someone else's care, a notion I am not at all comfortable with, just to attain some political ideal. I explained that to myself in my head, I explained it to Blake out loud, but still I was bothered.

Then this morning it came to me. I'm not defensive about choosing to stay home, I'm defensive because I don't have a career. If I had a career, I would be working out a way to continue to pursue it, because I would love it and want to get back to it. But I didn't have a career, I just had a job. And I'm ashamed of that.

I would like to have a career, the kind of career that involves joining professional organizations, mentoring, being mentored, going to conferences, going to training courses. Being important, having a career path, moving into management. I think I should have a career; I am smart, I am organized and disciplined and committed. I feel like I've let myself down, and yes, that I've let women down, by not having one.

I still don't know, though, whether I screwed up in my last job. I didn't love it, and I consciously chose to make it a job instead of a career. Was the fault with the job, for not being lovable, or me, for not finding a way to love it? Should I have sucked it up and learned to love it, dug in and worked hard and learned new things and sought promotion? I had a couple of chances to move into product management that I kind of blew off because I knew I didn't want to do the extra work, because I didn't care enough.

So do I make myself care about any old job, or do I look for a job that I actually care about? And how? I still don't know. I hope I figure it out before the kids are in school, because I really would like to start my career then.

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