Join Shaundrea Hirengen and her choice of having no intention to fall into a preconceived role. Shaundrea, like all strong and capable women, has her own identity to fulfill.
When I was a freshly married twenty-year-old, I had dreamed of the day my husband and I would run away to the big city of Portland, Oregon. We would live in a lofty high rise and walk hand-in-hand through the Pearl District on the way to our swanky jobs. Children were a part of a distant future, along with yard work and turning thirty.
With my 25th birthday came the quickening of my biological clock. Time sped up as, couple by couple, our friends became pregnant, and I began to practice my fake, “I’m so happy for you!” smile. Okay, I was happy for them, but a decrepit crone with sagging skin continually haunted my dreams. The crone tapped a razor sharp fingernail against the glass face of my biological clock. I longed for a pink cheeked baby of my own. I saw myself making cookies, scrap booking, and planning play dates.
Now that the reality of thirty has hit, we find ourselves alone on most Saturday nights not just because our friends have to make sure the babysitter is home by eleven, but also because our life has become comfortable. I still carry the desire to start a family, but I can’t help but feel I am at a crossroad.
On one side is the image of me chasing toddlers around a living room strewn with toys; on the other is my college diploma and a chance of having the career I’d always dreamed of. I am frozen in my inability to choose a side. Both images are compelling.
Must I choose?
Never before have women had such freedom of choice as they do today.
As I embark on my own journey as a woman, and future mother, I look to other women as a means of forming a support system. We’re all in different parts of a story. Some us (like me) are still in the prologue of our life, others are in the height of conflict and action, and still there are those who have found resolution in their decisions.
Stephenie West has been married two years. She and her husband are in the midst of planning their daughter, Cabella’s, first birthday party. Though the last year has been full of memorable “firsts” for Stephenie, she struggled with the idea of sending Cabella to daycare.
“Financially, we weren’t ready for me not to work,” she told me. Stephenie and her husband Chris made the decision to send their daughter, Cabella, to daycare just last month after almost a year of bribing family members to help with the care of Cabella. When family help became less available she wrestled with the stereotypes linked with her decision to keep her job.
“I didn’t want people to think I didn’t care about being home with her,” she admitted. “It was the hardest decision I’ve had to make so far as a mom, but–I also really like my job, and I like that it gives me an identity other than ‘Cabella’s mom.”
Stephenie shared that after being in daycare for a week, Cabella began to exhibit social skills that were non-existent during her year at home.
“She jabbers now,” Stephenie said. “She is a very social child, and loves being around other children, and I love knowing that we made the right decision for our family.”
Jana Kaye, a professional writer chose to quit her job in order to stay home and raise her two boys. When Jana decided to stay at home, she was nearing the top of her career field, but felt that her place at that time in her life was with her boys. However, that didn’t mean she had to sacrifice her identity. Since she no longer worked as a technical writer, she had more time to write fiction.
“I took a Writer’s Digest correspondence course on short story writing and joined The Writers Connection in Cupertino, California,” she said. “I attended lots of writer’s workshops and met published authors.”
Jana also shared her experience as a stay at home mom.
“There are misconceptions about what being a stay-at-home mom is like. For me, stay-at-home mom was a misnomer,” Jana said. “I joined the YMCA and attended a Mom-and-Me gym class. I met several women there who had careers but decided not to work after they had children. They were educated women. We’d meet with our children at the YMCA, parks, children’s museums, hiking trails, and each other’s homes. We had lots of fun together and we’d have stimulating conversation. I found that my children opened up a whole new world of discovery and opportunity.”
Stephenie and Jana give me hope, that one day, when my time as a mother is at hand, I too will have the integrity to make the decisions that are right for my family.
I have no intention to fall into a preconceived role. I, like all strong and capable women, have my own identity to fulfill. Regardless of whether we choose to spend our days at home with our children, the workforce, or a combination of the two, we are women who are in need each other’s support. Our choices may differ, but we all share the common threads of womanhood.
Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life — Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.TM Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.
What have you accepted in your life that took time, physically or mentally?
I have come to accept my own timeline. I used to feel incredibly inadequate as a woman because I have yet to enter the state of motherhood. That part of life will come in its own time, not anyone else’s.
What do you appreciate about yourself and within your life?
I appreciate my determination. I am 31 years old, and many of my friends and family thought I was crazy for going back to school, but I knew it was the right decision for me.
What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What goals do you still have?
I will graduate spring 2014, and I know that will be a rewarding achievement. Whatever path my life will follow, I know that writing will always be an important piece of my identity.
What is your not-so-perfect way? What imperfections and quirks create your Identity?
I think we all tend to sell ourselves short on our strengths. My not-so-perfect way is to always second guess myself.
How would you complete the phrase “I Love My…?”
“I love my…” I love my sense of humor. Many people think I come off as reserved, but once you get to know me, I’m really quite ridiculous.
Shaundrea Hirengen is a senior at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon pursuing her degree in English. Her blog, Page One, is available at www.shaundreahirengen.wordpress.com.