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What Will My Daughters Be?

May they slide into a career as easily as they slide into the pool at Sesame Place.

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of reading an excerpt from Tina Fey’s new book, Bossypants, which was posted all over my Facebook network. Part of a blog post from Baby Meets City, the excerpt was a beautiful, touching, funny poem called The Mother’s Prayer for its Daughter. I read through it alternating between laughter and tears. I stopped for a moment when I read the following lines:

Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes. And not have to wear high heels. What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.

I think about this, too. What will my girls grow up to be? Little Girl is too little to think about it yet, but Big Girl has given the topic as much thought as a seven-year-old can. Some days she tells me she wants to be a singer. Yesterday it was, “No, Mommy, I don’t want to be a singer. I want to be the first woman on Mars!” Other days she wants to be a scientist! Her most common wish? “Maybe I’ll grow up to be a writer just like YOU!”

I have issues with all of the above choices. Singer? Nah. There aren’t too many famous singers out there who haven’t done drugs or been photographed without underwear. An astronaut sounds like it would be a neat idea, but even with advances in technology getting to Mars means she’d be away from me for years. I’d miss her too much. Plus, it’s not like she’d be getting married and having kids in space. Scientist is a noble profession, but not something you can make a lot of money doing unless you become a slave of Big Pharma, essentially selling your soul.

And as to her wish to be a writer like me? Well, it’s 11:27 p.m. right now. I have about four hours of work ahead of me. I work A LOT. Being a freelancer is not what anyone thinks it is. I tend to write and edit way more than 40 hours each week. Most weeks I put in some hours on Sunday and at least two or three late nights. Sure, there are freelance writers who work fewer hours, but they aren’t necessarily making a decent wage. And the alternative — working on staff — isn’t much easier. On the other hand I don’t go into an office all that often, my work is always different, and I can have some flexibility in my day. (Meaning I can take two hours to do Brownies and make those hours up between midnight and 2 a.m.) But is it a life I want for my daughter? I’m not so sure.

No matter what my opinion, in the end it will be Big Girl’s decision. I think I share Tina Fey’s wish for her daughter. I want my daughter to find something that makes her happy but still leaves her time to enjoy life. I don’t think Tina’s suggestions are any better. (Midwives spend their lives at the hospital; architects put in plenty of hours, too.) Anyone have any better ideas?

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