I’m sticking my masochistic male neck out here, but let me do it anyway. I am waiting for the next inevitable, historic 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. I’m referring to 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 gosh theirs alone!
This return-to-the-way we-were happens with documentable regularity. With hairstyles…with dress styles… with entertainment styles…even, we are advised by anthropologists, with sex styles. But 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-inhabiting, whatever] to someone [male, female, straight, gay, one or more genders]. Unless she is already trapped inside some kind of poverty, once she has children she has a choice. Either live as a working-mom, a stay-at-home mom, or some combination of the two.
The stay-at-home mom is the one my childhood remembers. Surely. Clearly. Warmly. Although to be fair, that’s my generation’s memory, not yours. Aha, but that may make it exactly the 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 Abby, living here in my community? Well, consider some of the trade-offs. For now she has to give up that fast-track career she marched for, but at the same time that slow-track daily commute she loathed. The zest from her first big sales is now substituted with the magic of Jimmy’s first little steps. Gone is that jammed cubicle downtown, back is the home 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 this enormously personal world at her daily disposal.
OK, so this is just one happy octogenarian’s vision of today’s Abby’s who chose to be stay-at-home moms. I dare to think this, because 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.
True, Abby’s generation is fiercely different from the one my Mom knew. Abby may at first shun the stay-at-home option. Still, there is new reason to believe that old-idea may now have become new again. If so, like my Mom did, Abby may one day come to the conclusion: Today’s woman can have it all, only not all at the same time.
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