I’m sticking my masochistic neck out here, but let me do it anyway. I am waiting for the next inevitable, historically-confirmed shift or flip or whatever the appropriate verb is these days.
I’m talking about how every few generations some things change so much they go all the way back to the way they were before. That delicious discovery when the young — in their own good time — decide this “new idea” is so new, so unique, so them, that thank god their parents and their parent’s parents can lay no proprietary claim to it. It’s theirs, and by god theirs alone!
This return-to-the-way we-were happens in documentable regularity. With hairstyles…with dress styles… with entertainment styles…even, we are advised by anthropologists, with sex styles. For now, I’m only interested with the living styles.
Specifically with the way a modern woman chooses to live after she’s married [hooked up, co-inhabating, whatever] to someone [male or female, straight or gay, one or more genders]. Unless she is already trapped inside the vise of poverty, once she has a child(ren) she has a choice. Either live as a working-mom, a stay-at-home mom, or some combination.
The stay-at-home mom is the one my childhood remembers. Surely. Clearly. Warmly. But to
be fair, that’s my generation’s memory, not yours. Thereby making it the exact sort of “old idea” so old it’s likely to look like a “new idea.”
What might this new old idea mean to lets say 25-year-old Tracy living here in Park Ridge? Well, consider some of the trade-offs. For now she has to give up that fast-track career she marched, but at the same time that slow-track daily commute she loathed. The zest from her first big sales are now substituted with the magic of Jimmy’s first steps. Gone is that little jammed cubicle downtown, back is the place she fell in love with when they first moved in here. Oh, and in lieu of scratching to find a place for herself in this big impersonal world, she now has that enormously personal world called home at her daily disposal.
Home is not only where the heart is, it’s where Jimmy is, where her safety is, and from where she can later choose whatever her mother’s heart decides to go for. No, Tracy’s generation is powerfully different from the one Mom knew, but like Mom Tracy may come to the enlightened conclusion: Today’s woman can have it all, only not all at the same time.
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