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The other day I was talking with a friend who is in her early 60s. She happened to mention, in passing, that her grandmother had been a doctor.

Yes, that’s right, her GRANDMOTHER had been a doctor, specializing in head injuries, no less.

Now considering my friend is a baby boomer, that means her grandmother became a doctor many, many years before feminism supposedly opened up such opportunities to women. How could that be? So naturally I asked more questions.

Interestingly, it turns out her grandmother followed the path currently advised by the red pill, she married young to a good man, had their four children young, raised them while her husband worked his career, and then once their children were grown (her early 40s) she went to college, became a doctor, and started her career. Her grandmother practiced medicine well into her 80s.

It had never occurred to my friend that what her grandmother had accomplished, becoming a female doctor, was perhaps unusual for her time until I pointed it out.

This story is a good example of how today’s thinking that women should put off marriage and children until after she establishes her education and career may not be the optimal path after all. Or that if she marries and has children young, she will “miss” her chance to have a career.

Traditionally women followed their ideal biological life path — having children in their early 20s during their prime childbearing years, then shifting gears toward career as they reached their perimenopausal and menopausal years — when they are unencumbered by children and also will not have to “pause” that career once it is underway, like a woman who aims to establish her career early in life likely will when/if she chooses to have children later in life.

I have known many women of my generation (including myself, I am in my mid-40s and have young children) who put off childbearing until the last possible biological moment because they were mislead that they had all the time in the world to have kids, but not a career.

I was lucky to concieve both times easily and quickly despite my advanced age. Two of  three dear friends heartbreakingly never conceived despite expensive ($10,000+) infertility treatments. A third did finally succeed (happily!) after many tens of thousands of dollars and multiple attempts and is now finding just how difficult it is in reality to maintain a demanding career with an infant. Yet she’s afraid to take time off, lose her connections, and then be unable to restart her career later. A fourth friend didn’t start thinking of marriage and kids until she was in her mid 30s. She has yet to find a mate and at 45, children are now unlikely.

Sadly, these women followed the supposedly new and improved life script, only to find out it has some drawbacks they had never been advised of. No path is perfect. All paths involve possible trade offs. And they always have. And they always will.

It’s something young women of today would be wise to ponder. Does the path recommended to women today really make the most sense based on what she wants in life?

Perhaps the path my babysitter has chosen (to get her degree, have kids, then pursue her career with some additional refresher training when her children are older, then pursue her career in earnest for the second half of her life) lines up more naturally with a woman’s seasons of life?

The thing about life paths is there often aren’t do-overs later when one regrets the path chosen or is unhappy with the trade-offs. So best to figure it out early, and be sure you have thought things through. Both paths involve risk and uncertainty, is one path riskier and less certain?

Discuss. Deliberate. Ponder.

 

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