Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Girl That was Me II

Last week a girl who I knew at school came to visit me. She is (very sadly) widowed since her husband died when he was 49 and she 42. She did not work during her marriage and she is materially better off than me. She owns her own home outright, has two very functional and effective twenty-something sons and apparently does not need to work anymore - ie she is retired.

Rewinding 30 years at school she kicked her heels, didn't bother too much, never planned to have a career. Dabbled in a bit of secretarial work then got married.

I on the other hand set the school alight with my hard work and intelligence, always getting prizes and trying my best. But I find myself barely holding on to my (highly cerebral) job, being a single parent to a difficult child and only half way through paying off a huge mortgage.   It made me think again about The Girl That was Me

Maybe I should've just ignored my Physics homework, and set my eyes on the main chance - a man who could provide me with a home and a family and not expect me to work. Or perhaps, more likely, our personalities have dictated our destiny.

She, prepared to play second fiddle. Needing to be emotionally and financially supported. Me, driving, striving, independent desperate to prove I could do what any man could.

Thus who I selected as a partner was immaterial in terms of support because I could do that for myself. So I chose a playmate. She was more circumspect, knowing she needed someone to make a nest for her.

And whilst I feel somewhat ripped off by the state of affairs as they are, I could also say that this early determination has served me well for my current lifestyle. If I had been a more gentle, passive, unambitious woman I would not be able to carry this off even at the level I do. I would be a single parent in the popular understanding of the term. Poor, uneducated and with health and social challenges.

But the mistake which has been obvious through many of my posts was to assume the immateriality of a man who could protect and provide. I suppose I threw the baby out with the bathwater. Because if less of my  energy was spent on the day to day business of living, I would have more to offer to my career.

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