Column: Is it possible to 'have it all' in life?
Recently I heard a woman say that the women of today have to start thinking that they can't have it all. First, I would have to define what is "all."
When I was in high school, I didn't have any grandiose ideas of what I wanted out of life. I think maybe the women of today are more mature, so maybe they think about the future more than I did at that age.
All I wanted to be was a wife and mother. I had good grades in high school and since I graduated in January of the year and had a B average, I could have gone immediately into college. However, I waited until the fall of the year and then I had to take an entrance exam at the college of my choice, which I didn't pass.
After graduation I stayed at a resort in Michigan that my aunt and uncle owned. I worked as a waitress, saving as much as I could, thinking it would go toward college. However, my boyfriend asked me during that summer if I would marry him. We had gone together all through high school so knew each other very well. So, I said yes, and we planned for a fall wedding. Funds were limited, so we had to plan carefully. Neither of our parents were in a position to dish out a lot of money. My boyfriend had one year of university to his credit, so of course, his father tried to talk us out of getting married, but we went ahead and married anyway.
My husband had a football scholarship, so his tuition and books were paid for. However, after we were married we realized that we both would have to work in order to pay our bills, so he quit the football team. I went to work as a comptometer operator with Ford Motor Company, he continued to work for a funeral home as an ambulance and hearse driver. We never had to ask our parents for help.We were only married a few months when I became pregnant, and that was a surprise. I worked up until my daughter was born and my husband changed jobs and worked from 4 p.m. to midnight, loading semis and still going to school during the day. After completing his Bachelor's Degree, he went on four more years to Seminary.
Getting back to my opening paragraph about women wanting it all. "All" to me is wanting a home, a car, the latest in furnishings, traveling and clothes. That idea never crossed my mind. We had hand-me-down furniture until our five children left home. We never owned a home until my husband left the ministry. At that time, a member of our congregation offered to buy a house for us, and as soon as we were employed, we paid him off. After my husband left the ministry, both of us found jobs that were very good paying and we were able to pay off any debts, which were few.It never even occurred to me about getting new furniture or the newest gadgets that seem to be a part of a household. Most of the furniture we had was adequate and didn't look that bad. I refinished almost all of the furniture, and to me it looked nice. Our car was moderately priced, and as it wore out, we were able to purchase another. But times did change and when charge cards came on the scene, especially when the kids were small, that helped us through some of the hard times.
When the children left home and were on their own, I think we went a little crazy in buying things. I must admit, however, now that I am much older, that sometimes there is more satisfaction in anticipating things as there is when you finally can afford them. With both of us working and no more kids to support, we could buy most anything we wanted; it was a case of the "want" and not the "need."
I wonder sometimes why we think we have to have so much. The problem, I think, is that many of us have to "keep up with Joneses." We see our friends getting things and we think we have to have them too. Most of us are conformists. Whether we are middle class or poor, we still feel that we have to have what the other guy has. Many women today also feel that they need to get a college education, so that they can compete with men in the workforce. I do believe, however, if that's the case they should get equal pay. But the problem arises when the children come along and the woman is expected to work and not only keep the house, but do all the menial tasks around the house. I do know men chip in, and do help around the house, but very few stay at home and take on the role as homemaker and mother.
So, is it really worth it? Several of my grandchildren graduated from college and couldn't find a job that paid enough to live off. My one granddaughter lived with me and got a job with a chiropractor. Her intention was to save enough to move into an apartment. Well, that never happened. Her employer didn't pay her enough so she could do that. She had a college degree and when I went to see her at her work, she was dusting and vacuuming the office. Nothing that her degree was about had anything to do with what she was employed to do.
Life is filled with choices, and I think sometimes we don't think about the choices we make before we make them. My generation seemed to have more common sense, because most of us struggled to get where we are The upcoming generation has had many things handed to them, and now it is hard for them to adjust. With the economy the way it is and cut backs being made all over, it is hard to save for the future. The cycle continue, and I suspect another generation will come along that will be able to cope a little better with life then the "I want it now" generation.