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a silent salute: The audience "claps" at Joke Night during Deaf Awareness week. Click Arts&Life for a link to story. / Photo by Leah Lopshire

Today's word on journalism

December 15, 2008

As part of my own personal "war on Christmas" (which a Utah state senator has offered legislation to outlaw), the WORD celebrates the season by going on hiatus until January. May all out days be merry and bright, and here’s to a safe, healthy and saner New Year. HoHoHo!

Empty Minds: "Of all the people expressing their mental vacuity, none has a better excuse for an empty head than the newspaperman: If he pauses to restock his brain, he invites onrushing deadlines to trample him flat. Broadcasting the contents of empty minds is what most of us do most of the time, and nobody more relentlessly than I."

--Russell Baker, Pulitzer-winning columnist

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Feedback and suggestions --printable and otherwise --always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Women don't need to choose between work or children -- we can have both

By Debra Hawkins

November 17, 2008 | I am a product of the feminist movement, but I am also the product of the 1950s housewife motif. I have spent most of my life confused about both.

Growing up, I watched my mother, a housewife, operate. She cooked dinner every night, ran us to voice lessons, trumpet lessons, dance lessons and picked us up from our various school activities. She cleaned the house, took care of the children, and from the way it was in our house, I just assumed that was the way life was supposed to be.

Then I reached the public school system, where all of my teachers pushed me to break the mold of the "typical American housewife" to become a surgeon, an engineer or a computer programmer, almost anything was acceptable as long it didn't involve me barefoot and pregnant in a kitchen somewhere.

I think this is when I first became confused. My mother was very happy as a housewife and I had never really considered being anything else.

I began to entertain the idea that my parents were just old fashioned and that I needed to follow mainstream America. I put off all ideas of ever staying home, getting married young and decided children just weren't for me. I set my sights on becoming a psychiatrist and prepared by taking the necessary classes in high school.

I had dreams of having the perfect apartment in New York or Chicago, anywhere far away from Utah. I would get to wear all of the designer trends.

I worked hard at my goal, getting good grades and convincing myself that for no reason whatsoever would I get married young like most of my friends would. I wouldn't be a housewife, I was going to make something of myself.

Then something changed. A boy entered the picture. I spent hours trying to talk myself to stay true to my goals, but in the end, as it happens most of the time, the boy won out and I married him. There was a time after we were married that I thought I would never achieve my dreams. My dreams of psychiatry were replaced by journalist and photographer ambitions but nevertheless, I was terrified of dying without ever leaving my mark on the world.

There is a quote from somewhere that says, "well behaved women seldom make history." To me, most well behaved women are housewives. Women who do little more than chauffeur children from one soccer game to the next.

I feared becoming one of them, attending a few semesters of college but never graduating. I was terrified of spending more time changing diapers than changing the world and never fulfilling my dreams of owning my own photography business and freelancing.

One night, I confided these fears to my husband, who has since then taken it upon himself to make sure I don't feel like I have failed myself and my dreams. I may be young and just a few weeks away from having my first child, but I am also just a few weeks away from receiving a bachelor's degree in journalism. I may be changing diapers for the next few years but I also plan on freelancing and expanding the photography business my husband helped me start.

This is the part where most stay-at-home moms start to freak out on me, and no, I am not planning on going to work every day from nine to five.

This is the part where working moms freak out on me: yes, I may not plan on going to work every day from nine to five but I plan on working when I can and how that schedule fits in with my family.

I now believe that women should not be forced to stay at home with their children or be forced into the workforce. Women are going to be happier, better mothers if they choose where they will be happiest. Mothers who want to stay home but are forced into the workforce won't be as effective in life, just as mothers who want to work but are forced to stay home.

Women should be allowed to do what makes them the happiest, where money permits them. I have found in the last short while that I will be happiest somewhere in between.

So I may be semi-barefoot (the kitchen floor is cold, I have slippers on), pregnant and in the kitchen making dinner, but I am also studying for the psych final and crossing my fingers that my baby won't come during a final. I may never get to be president of the United States but I am working on changing the world in the ways I know how, through my actions and hopefully through raising some great kids.


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