We baby boomers came of age in a complicated and exciting time. Weaned on the importance of home and family, then educated to reach for independence and career, we started out a bit unsure of how to make sense of it all. In the balancing act that ensued, we went in many different directions, trying to do it all and keeping so many balls in the air that often it felt like Erica Jong was right, that we had “earned the right to be pooped.”
But we took inspiration from each other as we became lawyers, teachers, doctors, therapists, nurses, artists, executives, and then like a complicated Pilates move, added on roles of mother and sometime- chauffeur, soccer coach, community volunteer. In the process, we learned how to juggle and simplify, work hard but still play. And as we became accomplished in our respective fields, we discovered that the very qualities that helped us get ahead in the outside world were also the ones that enriched our inner lives.
Since Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique exposed the frustrations of being a full-time homemaker and triggered the second wave of the feminist movement, we have indeed come a long way. Fast forward 50 years and we’ve entered the workforce in record numbers, won the right to equal pay, learned how to climb the corporate ladder, and introduced workplace innovations to allow us to be productive while raising a family. Of course, as Yahoo makes its latest move to bring their “work-at-home” staff back into the office, we see the conversation heating up again.
In fact, many of us have come full circle when it comes to the home/career debate. While we would never want to go back to the old ways, we find as we navigate mid-life that although we continue to stay vital, it’s our time spent with family and friends that seems to bring us valuable serenity and perspective. Like many high-powered career men who voice the cliché that on their death beds they would never regret not spending more time at the office, we women are also nesting a little more, enjoying the simple pleasures of life while finding exciting new avenues for our creative impulses.
We are a powerful generation and wherever we focus our energies, we bring innovation through imagination. We still have much to learn, but we also have much to share.