The best we can ever do is to focus on becoming the best version of ourselves within our present circumstances
I grew up with a stay-at-home, milk-and-cookies mom, and I want to be able to give the same to my kids. When my friends are discussing which fields they plan to work in, I seem to be the only one who has no interest in the topic. I really enjoy being home, taking care of children, and spending time with friends. Honestly, I know that once I start raising a family, I’ll stop working anyway. The way I see it, any job to pass the time until then is fine.
Does it really matter what I do temporarily?
Your question is a wonderful one, based on wanting to provide your future children the same childhood experience you were given and your natural passion to emulate the role model you found in your own mother. I do hope that this vision of your own future family comes true for you. In the meantime, though, going out into the next stage of life without any goals or plans whatsoever is… not a great plan.
You see, what you do “temporarily” actually does matter very much. Simply because:
- You have no idea how long this temporary state will last.
- How you spend your time should never be solely “to pass the time.”
- A decision like this may have long-term ramifications.
Meet Malky, an acquaintance of mine who shared your aspirations. She spent a few years working in a boring office job that didn’t use many of her amazing talents, while she waited to walk down the aisle toward her real job. At the same time, her personality suffered as she became unhappier with her situation — which didn’t help her marriage prospects, either.
Eventually, she did get married and is now raising her family — but still needs to work part-time to contribute to the household income. Unfortunately, she is stuck in a low-earning position, since she did not focus on developing any marketable skills.
But you’re not Malky, right? Why worry about the worst-case scenario when you’ll likely be engaged by next month? Okay. Let’s imagine that does happen, and you’re lucky enough to find yourself in the same situation as your own parents. You marry and have a family right away, your husband earns enough to be the sole breadwinner, and all of your talents and interests are completely fulfilled within your role at home. Is there any reason to focus on your career right now?
I’d still say yes.
Getting to know yourself and developing an area of interest is always a great idea and part of being a healthy, growing individual. Not just for shidduchim, but because having a goal of fulfilling your ideal role as wife and mother in the future does not exempt you from the appropriate growth and effort needed at your current stage of life. The best we can ever do is to focus on becoming the best version of ourselves within our present circumstances.
Right now, I’d suggest thinking about what you enjoy and focusing on that. That may entail a short course or training period, or finding a job where you’ll gain useful skills for the future. I do agree with you that it may not make a lot of sense to pursue long-term training, since there is a strong possibility that you will not complete it or put it fully to use if you aren’t career minded.
Let’s meet Shana, who pursued a social work degree while working as a part-time playgroup assistant after graduation. Although her goal was never to work full-time, her parents encouraged her to train in a field that interested her. She took time off when she had young children, but always knew that she had a profession she could work in. She now works mornings three days a week and enjoys the professional outlet and social life that her job provides.
Right now, it would be fantastic if you could focus on areas where you’ve been blessed with talents worth sharing, so that you’d have the option of fulfilling a secondary role in the future. For Jewish women, navigating multiple roles is hardly a new concept. We have role models throughout the generations of women who served in various professional and communal roles — dating back to Yocheved and Miriam in Egypt.
Establishing yourself professionally need not come at the expense of your ideal role at home. Additionally, women nowadays do not need to make an absolute choice of working or being a stay-at-home mom. The options for freelance and work-from-home roles are expanding daily, giving you opportunities your mother didn’t have just a decade ago.
You shared that you enjoy children. Maybe you’d enjoy studying education, which in my opinion is great preparation for parenting. Maybe you’d enjoy culinary school, where you can become an award-winning cookie baker. Hopefully, you’ll put those excellent skills to use for your own family! You can enjoy this period of life while developing skills and talents you may wish to use in the future.
Shaina Keren is a career consultant who helps people discover and create careers that fit their best talents, interests, and life goals. She also advises businesses on hiring and keeping “the right people in the right seat,” in a win-win approach to growing businesses and careers.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 859)
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