I’m in the Navy. I have an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree and am currently working on my second bachelor’s degree. I intend to get my master’s degree before the end of my enlistment. I have worked at least one job at a time since I was 17. In college, I balanced two jobs and full time school. I’m proud of my education and my work ethic.
Yet when anyone asks me what I intend to do with all those degrees and all that work experience once I get out the Navy I can think of only one thing…
I want to be a wife.
I know, I know. I’m already a wife. I said my vows a couple years ago. And I take those vows very seriously. But being dual military and living 502 miles apart doesn’t make me feel all that much like a wife. This year I’m celebrating because I’ll actually see my husband more than 30 days in a calendar year. I love every day I get to spend with him and feel like we’re a real family for even just short visits. But those visits are never long enough and I always have to go back to living on my own and taking care of just myself and Jonah, my fish.
I have dreams of picking up socks off the floor. Cooking dinners that my husband grins and chokes down because he loves me even when something when horribly wrong. And learning how to cook a turkey so when the in-laws come for Thanksgiving they are certain their son married well.
Yet when I say these things out loud to friends and family you would think the world was about to end. I’ve heard that I’m taking women back to the 1950’s. I’ve been asked what women burned their bras for if I’m just going to put on my pearls and be tied to the stove. I’ve gotten more barefoot and pregnant references than I can count. And I’ve been told my degrees are worth no more than toilet paper if I do nothing more with them than decorate the walls.
Did I miss something? I was under the impression that the women who fought for our rights were fighting for our right to choose our path. They were fighting so that we could work if we wanted to, not fighting so we had to do so. These women wanted us to be able to think for ourselves. And to me that means they were fighting so that I could be just as proud of being a wife as I would be of being President.
Women are still fighting today. Working women have to defend their passion for their jobs and explain that it is possible to have it all. That they can be wives, mothers and career women all at once. Stay-at-home women have to defend their passion for their families. They have to explain why it’s so important to them to be able to devote all their time to their spouse, their children and their home.
The worst part of these fights, we aren’t defending ourselves against only the men who see us as weaker anymore. We are fighting against each other. We are judging each other for the choices we have made. It’s time for that to end. If we want to be seen as strong and equal then first we have to treat each other that way.
Photo Credit: Pedro Ribeiro Simões