Dear Auntie Sparknotes,
I need advice, but I'm kind of embarrassed to ask. You see, my family and friends don't know about this. I'm a smart kid, and I do well in school, so everyone expects me to get into some great college and become an ambitious career-woman. The thing is, that's not what I want to do. I want to be a housewife.
It's not that I'm not passionate about anything. I love art and singing, but I don't want to do either as a career. I'm not lazy, I'd just rather make a nice home for my future wife and let her do the career thing. Is that an unacceptable desire to have? And for that matter, is there anyone left who actually *wants* to be the sole breadwinner?
I know I could achieve more, but I don't want any of it. I know it's risky to be financially dependent on someone, but I can't shake the dream of living in a nice little house or apartment, cleaning and cooking and supporting my hypothetical love in her goals, while taking the time to pursue my own interests at my own pace, without feeling the pressure to be ambitious and wildly successful.
Obviously it's not a good idea to base my future plans around another person, especially when I haven't even met that person. Even if my feelings don't change, I'll probably either try to find a job I don't mind or get a degree in something that interests me and then try to find a decent job. But if I meet someone and get the chance to do this, should I go for it? Would anyone even be okay with marrying a woman with a dream like this? I feel like this is what I really want out of life, but almost everyone I know would probably think I'm an idiot for even considering it (not to mention a "bad feminist").
Well, first things first: as the daughter of a very smart, very capable, and very feminist mom who is also a housewife, I can personally attest that these things are not mutually exclusive.
And that anyone who insists that they are can kindly go pee up a rope.
It's perfectly acceptable—commendable, even!—to recognize yourself as a person who'd rather play a supporting role than a starring one, and who prefers a quiet life focused on home, family, and hobbies over one of career-driven super-achievement. In fact, it's one of the best and most important things that unambitious people can do for themselves; in a world where it's assumed by default that everyone wants to be a superstar, it takes courage to unapologetically pursue a small-to-medium-sized life. And yes, there are certainly people out there who dream of being a successful provider in the same way you dream of being a supportive spouse, and if you find one, it may well lead to a very happy, healthy, and fruitful marriage between two people who perfectly fill in each other's blanks.
But while it doesn't make you a bad person, or a bad feminist, to decide you'd rather work in the home than out of it, it would make you a very foolish person not to have a fall-back plan. It's not that cleaning and cooking and child-rearing aren't valuable; they are. It's not that homemaking can't be rewarding; it can. But when life comes with no guarantees, and when the high-earning, career-driven, content-to-be-the-breadwinner spouse of your dreams could get hit by a bus any day, hedging all your bets on marrying well—and staying that way—is the equivalent of pointing a loaded gun at your foot and hoping that it never goes off. Which is why I fully applaud your plan to major in something that interests you, develop your skills, and find a job... even if it all ends up sitting on the backburner by mutual agreement with the CEO you marry. (And hey, the experience you gain will only make you a more attractive partner to whomever you do settle down with.)
That said, Sparkler, keep your dream in mind... but leave some room for alternatives, too. Which goes not just for you, but for anyone and everyone who has untested ideas about what their future holds.
Because while it's great to know what you don't want (in this case, big goals, late nights, and a breakneck climb up the corporate ladder) that's still not necessarily the same thing as knowing what you do want... and that's especially true when the life you want in theory is one you haven't actually experienced in reality. Some people imagine themselves as doctors or lawyers, only to find themselves disillusioned by the limitations and constraints of the systems they have to work within. Some people dream of being writers or artists, only to discover that they hate the isolation, uncertainty, and constant rejection that comes with a creative career. And some people envision a life of contented cooking, cleaning, and caregiving whilst singing a happy working song... only to discover that housework is thoughtless, thankless, stifling, soul-crushing, and you suddenly understand what Simone de Beauvoir was on about in "The Second Sex" and why 1950s housewives would wash down their midday dose of Valium with two or three martinis.
Or in other words, the only way to know for sure if a life is right for you is to live it. And until then, to keep an open mind.
Do you want to be a happy homemaker, or are you a career-driven superperson? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at email@example.com.