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Beyond just being me, I am a wife, mother and entrepreneur constantly on the hunt for new ideas on how to live my best life. Visit me at www.clementsinteriors.com.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I would like to know how and when in the past two or three decades becoming a wife and a mother became so wrought with socio-economic undertones.

When our mothers were young and newly married, the assumption was made that they would remain at home with their families unless they, God forbid, HAD to work (gasp, gulp!).

I have come across several websites and blogs by women who have chosen to leave their 'professional' lives behind and become full-time, need I say it, 'stay-at-home' moms; the reference made as though the 'stay-at-home' title ensures that there will suddenly be a lack of socially-valued work done on the woman's part. Almost apologetic in tone, a great deal of women choose to broach the topic of their choice to stay home from a defensive, almost scornful viewpoint, one where they perhaps unknowingly demean the real work of running a home, not to mention the mental stress of potentially ending ones' financial contribution to a household that seems to require more and more 'stuff' on a daily basis.

This has become an onerous preoccupation with me of late.

Being a self-employed individual raised with a strong work-ethic, not to mention a healthy dose of Catholic guilt, I have struggled with the question of my place in the world as a woman, a wage earner, a wife and a mother. I was raised by a stay-at-home mother and this notwithstanding, I graduated from university and followed the heavily travelled path of my feminist predecessors into the corporate sphere to fulfill my hard-won place in the private sector. It wasn't all good and glorious, as much to my surprise I experienced the bitter pill of sexism and the 'glass-ceiling' mentality of the women and men around me.

For decades before me, 'feminists' toiled in the name of future generations of women for, among other things, the right to fair and equal compensation in the workplace. And yet, when given the chance to be promoted and move ahead to fill my seemingly rightful place in the upper-levels of the corporate realm, and without so much as a thought to those hard-won feminist battles of the past, I simply opted out. The truth was that despite my hard work and my evident potential to move up the corporate ladder, I was miserable. I hated work - at least I hated the work I was doing. When I graduated from school, no one had ever told me to look for work that I liked. I just had to have a job. Period.

I don't recall a course in university called "Find and Follow your Passion.101" - had there been such a course I surely would have enrolled in it. Or perhaps not. Perhaps I would have thought it an exercise in narcissism. I don't ever recall having a discussion with anyone during any point of my life or educational career about finding out what my passion was, and about the fact that having a passion was an important part of living a fulfilled life. I simply had to have a job. And if I was lucky enough to have a family and a home to live in, I would find happiness - that was the 'American' (and as such, the de facto 'Canadian') Dream. Today, that dream seems truly wrought with misdirection and misunderstanding and one might argue, has chased our generation into a room of cubicles meant to define our role in society.

One might deduce that the race for "having it all" coupled with a potential disregard for our passions (and the ultimate unhappiness that comes along with it), has brought us to this place of global social and economic upheaval, and is now finally seeing people surface with a gasp from the deep dark waters of conspicuous consumption to realize that there is truly beauty and happiness to be found in the small details of our everyday lives. And yet for the generation that follows mine and in the age of all that is televised and written about, the path to success and happiness seems to be knowingly paved with the notion that one's passion is the correct path to follow to find our golden place in the world. In fact, many purport that if you follow your passion, the money will find you. The money will find me? Are you serious?!

Isn't finding out this tiny jewel of information in my forty-somethings a little late? Well, perhaps not. Perhaps figuring out that I'm passionate about all the things in my life and that what I feel strongly about often changes on a daily basis, is not a bad thing. Maybe that's it. Maybe happiness is found in knowing that today I am a Mom, tomorrow an interior decorator, and perhaps the day after a volunteer or a friend. I needn't define myself as solely being a decorator or an entrepreneur, or being passionate about staying at home with my children, as though it's a zero-sum game and at any given time when the pendulum of life swings, something or someone loses out. Perhaps that's the ultimate in narcissism. After all, a wise person likely knows that even when not in the room, life goes on without us, but that we are no less important.

I find solace in knowing that my lack of definition in 'what' I am on a day-to-day basis is ultimately what brings me happiness, and being happy is truly my passion.


1 comment:

  1. I liked this post, lots of interesting things to consider. I guess there are some people for whom their passion is work in the corporate sphere, and it is a good thing feminism paved the way for them to have a place there. But it's certainly not a game I want to play, myself. A lack of definition also means limitless opportunities. It's just too bad that no one has offered to pay me regularly (with benefits) for pursuing these opportunities, yet.

    I look forward to following your blog.