“I’ve had three or four different careers,” Margaret Truman Daniel told an interviewer in 1989. “I consider being a wife and mother a career. I have great respect for women — both those who go out and do their thing and those who stay at home. I think those who stay at home have a lot more courage than those who go out and get a job.”
Margaret Truman Daniel died Tuesday. She was 83 and what we might call a renaissance woman. A singer, writer, actress, daughter of a president, wife of the one-time New York Times managing editor, and mother of Daniel tried everything. Her obituary caught my eye, and I’m glad I read it. Because that quote is fantastic.
And I think she’s right, and not just about considering being a wife and a mother a career. I am not a brave person. I never have been. I remember, and this pains me to actually admit, that in middle school I actually thought how glad I was I wasn’t a boy. In addition to the lack of painfully visual evidence every time I was attracted to someone, I also believed that because I was a girl, I didn’t really need a career. I could just get married and have my husband take care of me.”
I seriously thought that. And it’s because I am not brave. Never have been. At 12 years old, it seemed so much easier to just get married and have babies and that would be that.
Now I know that it would be infinitely harder for me to stay at home. Because it is the unknown. Because it would mean so much change. Because it is not what I expected out of my life since I was 15 years old and discovered I could put a few words together to make a decent sentence.
And I guess I’m not afraid to admit that.
But Daniel was right about another thing, too. I think we all deserve each other’s respect, no matter what decisions we make for our families. And while I may go to work every day, I still consider my “career” to be that little girl, her daddy and any other children that bless us.