–Will this career work when I’m married?
–Will this career be okay with my husband? (cringe)
–How will this career work when I have kids?
–What will happen to me and this job when I need to be on maternity leave?
–What will happen to me and this job if I decide to pull myself out for X number of years to stay home with the kids when they’re little? How hard will re-entering the workforce be?
–How flexible will this job be in terms of being able to be at home when kids get out of school or when I need to stay home with sick kids?
–Will I have to work late hours or weekends? What kind of impact will that have on my family life?
–Would it be better to have my kids first and then do the training/education associated with this job? Or would it better to do the training/education, get some work experience under my belt, and then have kids?
–Are there certain milestones associated with this career that would be complicated by children, like making partner or getting tenure, for instance?
–Will my spouse and I take turns going to school and working? Will I get my schooling “done” first, or will he? Or will we try to do it at the same time?
–Where do kids fit into this whole picture?
Honestly, I could go on writing questions like this forever. And, in my experience, women talk about this stuff all the time. Not even just Mormon women—all kinds of women. Even though I know plenty of not-Mormon women (and plenty of not-religious women) who tussle with these issues, Mormonism often complicates things. The Mormon belief that women’s primary role in life is to have children and nurture them (see here), and the assumption that this mandate comes not from society or from culture, but from God, add an additional layer of weight (and potential guilt) to the equation.
So let’s say one of my daughters (the oldest turns 16 next week) is wondering about some of these issues. So she goes to the only place she knows, the source of all wisdom—Google—and puts in search terms like “Mormon women and careers.” What will she find? Unfortunately, not much. There’s just not much out there, which strikes me as odd, considering how much energy women expend worrying about these important issues. I want my daughters (and my son!) to be able to read about other women’s struggles. How did they go about deciding what to do and when? Are they happy with their choices? Why/why not? What do they wish they had done differently? If they had it to do all over again, would they do things in the same order or in the same way? Why/why not?
So, friends, consider this my invitation to write a guest post about what your decision set looked like. How did you handle all this? I’m excited about the possibility of having a place to send my kids—and other people’s kids—when they ask about some of these enduring questions. Because right now, there’s really nowhere for them to go.
So until April 5 (or so), we’ll be publishing blog posts about what the authors’ education/job/career/parenting trajectory looks or looked like. I’d love to have posts from a wide range of people—Mormon/not Mormon, women/men, dads/moms, many kids/no kids, married/not married, gay/straight. Submissions should be sent to email@example.com (please see our guest post guide).
Share your stories. I’m curious, and so are our readers.
–Unexpected Spiritual Exerpiences (Invitation, Archive)
–Teaching Sex (Invitation, Archive)