the she series: level up

This is my first post from someone I’ve never met. I really wanted this series to be something where I could learn about other women and better understand different points of view, the next best thing to living it myself I suppose.

After asking everyone I thought wouldn’t be bothered by my request, I noticed that only asking people I know still limits my viewpoints a bit. Although I do know people with different viewpoints (and circumstances) than my own, I really still tend to circle myself with people I get along with.

So I asked around in a couple online places for other people who’d like to share. Mary is someone from my neighborhood who kindly responded, and I’m grateful to have been able to read a bit of her story. As I’ve read more of these I’ve realized that a lot of times we don’t really have disagreements about topics, we just understand them different. What encompasses a “traditional family” is one of those things I’ve noticed in most of the responses I’ve gotten, including Mary’s below.

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FAMILY

I was born in New York, but my parents are Irish and we moved back to Ireland when I was 7. I am the oldest of four kids, three girls and my brother who is the youngest.  We lived on a farm in rural Ireland. There was the random token Protestant, and if you were were sick and in the hospital maybe you saw an Indian resident, but mostly everyone was Irish, white and Catholic. We all went to the same local school whether you were from the town or country, rich or poor.

I came back to the US when I was 19, after two years in college. When I first arrived at JFK I was totally intrigued. I saw so many different people of color and religion; completely foreign to me. I quickly set out to learn as much as I could about everything! I worked hard and eventually met my husband, who also happens to be Irish. We bought a house, lived in the basement for five years and rented out the top two floors to pay for our wedding. We now have two kids, a 14-year-old daughter starting high school, and a son who is 12.

I’m old fashioned so the traditional family structure is what I’m used to. However I do believe everyone has the right to live their lives whatever way makes them happy. Of course we live in NY so things are a little easier here than in other parts of the US. I try to raise my kids to be happy, considerate and kind people, but unfortunately also have to remind them that not everyone is like this.

Moms are often our kids’ first teachers. Because of this, I think education is important regardless of what your position is in life–working mom or stay-at-home mom.

MOTHERHOOD

I was an older mom, 35 when I had my first child, 38 for my second. We wanted to be settled, have a house, etc., before we had kids. We wanted to be able to provide for them.

I’m a working mother…always have been. It was a choice we made when we decided to have a family: we could afford two kids only, and there would have to be two salaries in order to make it work.

Because of this, my kids have been in daycare since they were three months old. Being in daycare made it easier for my kids to make friends and when they started kindergarten we had no problems.

If I could work part time now I would. When they were younger it was easier, but now they have extra circular activities that eat up a lot of my time, and now is when I need the time off. If I could pick a woman whose life I secretly admire, it’d be anyone who has the financial means to support their family, who can choose if they want to work or stay at home with their kids.

EQUALITY

In my house myself and my husband split the chores. Why not? I work just as hard as he does. Whomever is home first starts the dinner. If I’m out with the kids on the weekend at a swim meet, then he cleans the house. The only thing he refuses to do is the food shopping and I prefer that I do the laundry…everything else is up for grabs.

If the kids are sick we rotate taking days off from work. Mom is not the only parent, and my job is just as important as his.

I don’t feel I’ve been treated unfairly as a woman, but I’m pretty outspoken so I usually don’t find myself in situations that I’m not comfortable with. Gender inequality is unfair, but it won’t change unless we (women) do something about it.

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