Get Clucky!

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

All About the Benjamins

I've decided something. If we have a child, and if it is a girl, I have decided what I will tell her. I will tell her: make shitloads of money. Pick a career that involves dollars and dollars and dollars, everyday, all day. But don't let it be stripping, because that can bite you in the ass later when/if you run for office. But make lots of dollars, because they will be very handy when/if you run for office. They will be handy when you want to do anything.

I have never been opposed to making money, as something I might do, but at the same time I have never really done it. I have also not really approved of people who picked a career with the explicit goal of making money in mind. “Personal enrichment” and “intellectual progress” and “world saving” have all been ambitions I admired; “money making,” just straight up and not as an accidental sidecar to an otherwise moral act of artistic genius, has never been high on my list of interests or approbation. I mean, money?

But now I see the light. The answer to all a girl’s problems is, indeed, money. And she should do her damndest to make it herself.

Here’s the deal—as I mentioned the other day, I am finding myself newly agreeable dropping the whole career thing to do some pretty serious mothering. I have been baffled by the fact that this idea is indeed agreeable to me: how did I consent to this? When did my long-standing ideas of myself just sort of flitter away with out my guardianship, like so many dollars donated to ATM fees?

I think it happened when I married someone who made about three times as much money as me, with the promise of making four times as much money as me within a couple of years. And I don’t know, probably about five times a few years after that if he doesn’t get irked working for the man and drop out to be a poet.

So with all this income coming in without any effort on my part, with all the condo buying and 401k investing without any labor from me, my labor has stopped seeming urgent. It just doesn’t feel like it really matters. What matters to our new little practice family is my flexibility—my ability to accommodate life to my husband’s much more lucrative schedule. And as long as I’m doing that…well, the rest of the time I can do what I want.

Which is very freeing, I must say. Without the pressure to like my job, without the pressure to excel in it, I get to think a lot more carefully about whether or not I do like it and want to excel in it, or maybe I just want to do something else entirely? Maybe I want to stay home and pluck away at the strings of a novel. Maybe I want to volunteer full time for NOW. Who knows? Might as well.

But this week I am feeling a little bad about it, a little cornered. It’s nice to feel a lot of freedom, but it’s not nice to feel that all your ambition really doesn’t matter, because what you might, through your ambition, actually accomplish won’t have much to do with the central life of your family (assuming that you really do value your family, very much). I don’t like to feel that my professional accomplishments, no matter how great, don’t really have very much pull with the overall course of my life because they just won’t be as great financially.

So, though I am not sure how to immediately apply this insight to my immediate plans and schemes, my own dreams of motherhood, I say: dollars. Earn them. They will be very good for you, and very good for your feminism.


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