Wednesday, June 21, 2006

What if I'm Not Wasting My JD?

At a homeschooler's park day yesterday, I discussed the Washington Post piece I blogged about yesterday, with a friend. She was talking about the underlying article in the American Prospect but I haven't read it. When I went to the link this morning, I quickly bailed on the article -- there is just not enough time to blog about the minutiae in my life and read an article by a feminist scholar. Yup, and I sold my volumes of Camille Paglia at a used book store last year to buy a homeschooling book. Thats right, go ahead and cry.

As I alluded to in my comment on my last post (if I don't talk to myself, who else will?), I wonder if this view of women wasting their education and careers by being at home misses an important point. It seems the argument is that women should buy into the current corporate paradigm of power. We must work at jobs while our children are young so that we can be the power brokers of the future. Only in achieving conventional success, will we be a success, the theory seems to say. There are some nice political words for this which escape me because I've filled my brain with such trivia as my DH's preferred orange juice (Tropicana Pure Premium Original, aka, no pulp). What is the term? Subscribing to the male dominated power structure, accepting the current paradigm, what? Something about accepting what others have decided without deciding it for yourself. Maybe Linda knows.

My point is, perhaps its possible that these rich, overprivileged, educated women are looking for something better than what the corporate world has to offer. Maybe they are wrong, but maybe they aren't. Maybe these at-home mommies are the real risk-takers, betting that their careers and their lives are better off for the path they are taking (not to mention how they feel about their children).

An example: I worked as an attorney for a government agency for three years before having my first child, after which I stayed home to be with her. Now, I'm a homeschooler, a completely unanticipated turn of events for me (I always thought they were religious fundamentalists and I am not). I've only been asked once if I felt I wasted my degree. Reflecting on that conversation, the only thing I felt I wasted was the time spent talking to that person.

Anyway, what if in 15 years or so, I move on to a completely different career? What if my "time at home" helps me craft a new path because of the volunteer work I'm doing now for causes I believe in far more strongly than whether a particular imported item should be duty-free under NAFTA. Oh, I may never get my GS-14 which I may rightly deserve, but is the women's movement really worse off for that? What if I become an executive director of an organization that helps abused women? What if I become a lobbyist on children's issues? Am I a failure because my salary isn't as big as it could be?

To me, working while my children are young isn't about career advancement or social movements. Its about material acquisition and consumerism. (In a earlier blog post, I wrote about an article that suggested that at-home moms should thank working women for making the world a better place. The article was written by a woman who used to market Splenda in South America. And she thinks she was a hero of the women's movement?) I'm happy with what I have -- I am spoiled enough, I don't need more. So what if I spend my time with my kids. Whats it to you? If career achievement is blooming, can't you tolerate a late-bloomer?

And trust me, I plan to do something with my JD, even if its only to spout off at the male attorneys at the top of the current domination system. Actually, I do that now, so maybe I am a working woman.

Note: I polished this up, tried to de-inflame it a bit and posted it to the Life Without School community blog.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Concept -- there are no Mommy Wars

Being an unclimber, I'll never be the first to reach the top (okay, I won't reach the top, period). This is my explanation for the lack of timiliness of this post. A friend of mine told me about a Washington Post Outlook piece, Everybody Hates Linda (that was the headline in the print edition). I missed this on Sunday but read it today. Interesting and thought-provoking. It made me think that I'm glad I didn't post my 1996 wedding in The New York Times. Now there is a statistically meaningful sample for trends in the U.S.

Anyway, what if there are no Mommy Wars? I know many would be disappointed, but I see it as an extension of who is sitting where and with whom in the high school cafeteria. Does it really matter in the grand scheme of things?

If it takes a village, we are in sorry shape, folks. The village is empty.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Homeschool at Home

What a concept. Seriously, I'm doing some soul-searching about the future of our homeschool. Suzanne has just finished her kindergarten year. That sounds so odd to me -- "finished" and "kindergarten year." We never finish learning and the whole "kindergarten year" goes out the window because we don't 'do' anything as unschoolers. (Don't let that frighten you, Suzanne actually knows a lot more than if she had attended school). I let her call herself whatever she likes. She decided that 6 year-olds are first graders, so according to her, she began first grade last month. If she says shes a high school junior next month, thats fine with me.

Anyway, we've been busy this year with activities. Well, maybe about three activities a week with only one or two free days, which I view as busy. Of course, I have some friends who average about two activities a day. I'm trying to decide what we should do next year, especially since we're dropping some activities and I'm wondering if and how we'll replace them.

My husband keeps warning me that my second daughter, who is tempermentally similar to himself, is going to need a lot of attention next year. He's basically advising me not to overbook our activities.

I'm currently walking around in a muddle about my feelings regarding community, learning, and solitude. Just when I think I've got it figured out, it turns out I'm wrong. Suzanne decided she didn't want to go to a homeschool park day today. Fine, I thought, she wants more time at home. Only she then told me that she wanted to go for a walk outside and find some kids in the neighborhood with whom to play. Problem -- most kids are in school (and will be in camp once school ends) or in some form of childcare. If we want to do playdates, we have to pre-arrange them. Thats why I thought a homeschool park day would be fun. Maybe I should write the suburban mom's version of Catch-22.