Career and motherhood will always tragically conflict.
At least once a semester, a young female student will come to my office with questions about an assignment, and after we have finished our official business, will mention her concerns about the future: whether she should apply to medical school or take the less demanding physician’s assistant route, or whether she should marry right away and move with her husband for his job. Often she is the one with the better opportunity, and she wonders if she can expect her fiancé to follow her as she pursues graduate education at a prestigious East Coast school. Even if she isn’t in a romantic relationship, she wonders what it will mean for her goals when she is. Inevitably, she confesses that she is worried about the difficulty of pursuing both family and career.
The decisions are not simple. “Why,” asked Taylor, a former student, “if I sense a professional vocation, should I not pursue it? Failing to do so would be like burying my talents in the ground.” Her insight is perhaps the one unproblematic and entirely admirable legacy of feminism: Because women are human, they should be free to pursue excellence, just as men do.
Another student quoted to me a line from the post-communion prayer of the Anglican liturgy, where the congregation beseeches God for the grace and assistance to “do all such good works as thou hast prepared for us to walk in.” She confessed that she has always loved this prayer because she sees herself as blessed with multiple talents, but has never been quite clear about how to pursue them all. [Read more at First Things...]