“When I Grow Up…”: Do We Warn Our Daughters?


One day driving to work, I was daydreaming of other careers. I wondered what it would be like if I was a hairdresser or a nurse — you know, “when I grow up”? Both these careers seem to offer decent pay and the option to work part-time or full-time.

This got me thinking about my daughter, Zoe. She’s not even 2 years old, but already I’m wondering what she’ll be when she grows up. I want her to go after her dreams whether she wants to be a lawyer, a big business executive… or by the looks of her “don’t-mess-with-me” face in this picture, a G.L.O.W. (Glorious Lady of Wrestling.)

Yep, Zoe can grow up and be whatever her little heart desires. But, should I forewarn her if she also wants to be a mother? Or suggest she acquire other skills that give her more flexible options in her career. “You know, Zoe… you’ve always had nice hair and an ear for gossip. How about a career in hair design?” Hey, the hefty family member discount would be pretty sweet.

Growing up, my mom was always a working mom. She’s a nurse who has worked both part-time and full-time schedules. Her hours have always been flexible. When she was home, she wasn’t distracted with work issues. When she left the hospital, her work was done. She made being a working-mom seem easy. I’m sure it always wasn’t. But, she never let me know. Especially, when I was the age to start wondering what I wanted to be when I grew up.

In my college years, I dreamed of becoming a big-time marketing executive. I also dreamed of having a family. In my mind, I was going to have it all—big career, big happy family.

Well, I’m not that big-time marketing executive. I followed a different career path. I’m a copywriter for an ad agency. It’s a career I love. The drawback? Sometimes when I leave the office, I’m still working–whether it’s responding to emails from home, thinking of that next big idea, or working extra hours to meet a deadline. It interrupts my time that I should be spending with my kids and my husband. That’s what gets me thinking about those other careers again.

Do I think working-mom hairdressers and nurses have it easy? Absolutely not. I’m sure they share the same gripes and feelings of guilt as any other working mom. It’s the “punch-in, punch-out” aspect that makes me envious at times.

When Zoe starts thinking about college and a career, I hope to share some working-mom wisdom with her. No, I won’t force her to go to beauty school. I will support her dreams. Just like my mom supported me.

4 thoughts on ““When I Grow Up…”: Do We Warn Our Daughters?

  1. I guess I figure things have changed so much in the last 30 years in regards to working moms … surely when our daughters grow up, it will be a dramatically different landscape. Our nation will offer mothers better benefits and help them work and raise children. Our employers will provide more flexibility and family-friendly options for their employees. It will be easier, more affordable, and less guilt-inducing for working parents to raise happy, healthy kids. Am I dreaming? Call me an optimist. Or call me crazy. I’m a little bit of both!

  2. OK – I want to say something intelligent in response to this great post, but I’m just so taken with that awesome, funny pic of your daughter. She’s got this look on her face like, “whatchootalkinbout, Mom? A hairdresser?”

    Hee. She’s a cutie!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Due to my title… SOAPBOX, I truly realize that I am on a SOAPBOX and that my defence is probably taken too far (as usual for me : )..
    I think as moms we are always looking for the otherside.. the better side. Is it staying at home? Look at that job! I want THAT! I do it too! And don’t diss your profession as a copywriter..you do make a difference, maybe not at every piece you write, but think of the accounts that you guys take on, they do make a difference. If anything you inspired me for a blog entry….. no REAL offense taken!

  4. Anonymous says:

    What a great blog and what an important question – what do we tell our daughters? At 52, my 27 year old son is married to an attorney – no children yet – and my 22 year old daughter is about to married. I think a lot about that question and I don’t have an answer yet. I worked full-time as a manager/accountant for most of their childhood and it was not satisfactory. SOMEONE has to take care of everybody, including the working mom and she is usually too tired and grumpy (this coming from someone who has a great husband/father). I think the best advice I have heard so far is to set those realistic goals and choose a career that is flexible. Owning your own company can also work pretty well – my favorite job was as a building contractor for 5 years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.