Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Who are you?

When I took sociology classes in school we would often begin a semester by identifying how we identified ourselves. Not by name, but descriptions. If I had to do it today it would go something like this: woman, mother, wife, writer, friend. Of course, what a person says as well as the order is important. For instance, it would be noted that I defined myself by my gender. Many men wouldn't, while most women would. Second, why am I a mother before a writer? Seems perfectly obvious to me, but may be clear as mud to some.

I was thinking about this because Michelle Obama has declared that she will be a mom first upon entry to the White House: "My No. 1 job would still be a mom," she said (Leader Post, Tuesday January 6, 2009).

Interesting, how although she is an Ivy League educated lawyer, she still notes first and foremost that she is s mom. Of course she is filtering what she says in context of media and appearances, but I find it intriguing that this is her best option. Her husband probably doesn't list off his descriptions as father first, but then I'm just guessing.

I don't think the world would be a better place if women identified by their careers first, necessarily. I don't think that for most, what you do is the defining overall factor. On my deathbed I'm not sure that what brought me cheques is going to matter all that much (*although given my last ranting blog that may or may not be true). Again, I'm guessing here, but I hope that the things that bring me contentment will be the relationships - with children, husband, and friends.

But maybe, just maybe, the world would be a better place if all people who are parents identified that as an (the? most) important marker. Fathers declaring that yes, first, I am dad, second I am banker/baker/candlestickmaker. Maybe then childcare would be a priority; affordable and accessible and dare I say it, quality childcare, would be abundant and flexible parent-friendly workplaces the norm.

We're on the cusp of great things here, in terms of sorting out gender roles and responsibilities. We still have a lot of sifting through to do, a lot in terms of fairness and balance, but if we keep the dialogue open we will get there. And hopefully a woman like Michelle Obama can give us a leg up on just how we can do it.


lotusgirl said...

I think the best thing would be for men's identities to be husband and father first. There would be a lot less divorce as well as more loved and better cared for children.

Oh, what a world it would be!

In your terms, I see myself as wife, mother, family member (i.e. aunt, sister, etc.), friend, writer, etc...

Welcome back to the blogging world. I've missed you.

spinregina said...

I agree with you 100%. It's possible to sustain an identiy through work, but not for long. And not healthy for either yourself, or those around.

Lady Glamis said...

I think of my first job as a mother and wife. There's a talk I listened to awhile ago that focused on this, and how important it really is to be a mother. It's a hard job. Harder than any others out there. We all owe ourselves a pat on the back for braving such a work place!

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