Having two reasonably gifted workaholic daughters, and seeing the mental and physical prices they're paying to try to "have it all" in today's world, prompted me to dedicate today's column to the one or two young women in Carson City who might accidentally read it.
My eldest daughter, Angela Camilla, graduated from Southern Methodist University with two simultaneous bachelor degrees; one in business administration and the other in journalism, with a 4.0 grade point average, summa cum laude, number one in her graduating class.
My youngest daughter, Lise-Marie, graduated from San Francisco State with a BA in liberal studies and a 3.95 grade point average, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, one of only 50 Phi Betas awarded that year in all of California.
Angela has a successful public relations business in Houston with her husband. However, the inevitable happened as the biological clock ticked and time was running for having a child. So, like many "liberated" women, she had Christina and combined motherhood with her career. But her best clients wouldn't accept any substitutes, so working 16 hours per day between work and home is now deteriorating her health, and Tina is only 12. Angie's trapped.
Lise-Marie has been in show business most of her life specializing in cruise ship productions, being the principal lead entertainer on Royal Viking and later Crystal Cruises. She got her university degree between trips.
Now that she's married, she rarely goes aboard ship any more except in emergencies. She's in charge of hiring all singers and dancers for Crystal. Lise, too, beat the clock by having a child, Sterling Alexa, 19 months ago, but she's playing a bit differently from Angie, deciding not to fight the battle between career and motherhood. She's cut back to about 10 hours career work per week in favor of full-time home management until Sterling is through school, at which time Lise will enter law school (heaven forbid).
Knowing what I know now after working closely with my daughters, and observing the hardships of so many women who find themselves dead-ended, if I were a young woman today entering college I'd have a plan. In this day and age you're seriously at risk without a plan.
The first part of my plan would be to get a traditional liberal arts degree and perhaps a teaching credential from a college like Hillsdale in Michigan, one of few offering a truly classical liberal education coupled with core values and up-to-date sciences.
The second part of my plan would be to find a prospective husband in college who is a guy with a career plan and the ambition to carry it out. It's just as easy to fall in love with a mature young man of substance as it is to fall in love with a flaky bum. And if you're patient, you'll find the mature guy, although I admit the flakes are more exciting.
It's the same way with us guys. The sexier the girls, the dumber and less reliable they are and the more we're attracted. That's the trouble with youth. During our teens, you girls respond to your estrogen and we boys to our testosterone. Not even an MRI could find our brains.
Anyway, getting back to the plan, you'll most likely want to work after you're married until your first child comes along. Then if you're smart, you'll quit working and become the full-time home manager, and home school teacher, until your last offspring is out of the nest. Home schooling is the most important thing you could ever do for your kids, and with your liberal arts degree, you're as well prepared as anyone to be a good teacher. Furthermore, no future government restriction is likely to prohibit you from schooling your children at home.
Finally, when your kids are gone, that's the time to launch your new career on the outside. You'll only be about 45 to 48 years old, leaving you a solid 20 years to enjoy your new challenge. With your college degree, most employment doors will be open to you. Employers prefer mature women who are past the child rearing stage, especially women with credentials.
Moreover, you'll still have time to return to college for a graduate degree and enter a profession if that's what you want. It's like being reborn into an entirely new life, having your loved ones without the chaos and guilt of balancing their needs with an outside career.
Yes, you can "have it all," but you must plan carefully. And don't forget God in your life. He's the one who will help you over the unexpected hurdles, and there's always the unexpected.
(Bob Thomas is a Carson City businessman, local curmudgeon and former member of the Carson City School Board and Nevada State Assembly.)