Perhaps it would help both me and my daughters if I could clarify my thoughts on working mothers. Reviewing family history might be illuminating.
Grandma Nolan only graduated from grade school. After Grandpa Nolan died in 1938, I recall she worked in the local Laundromat to help make ends meet. Perhaps she did some home-based work. She was widowed at 40 with 7 children, including a two year old. Her parents were dead so they couldn’t help her. She had survived the death of a two year old daughter. She was always available to her family when someone had a baby, when someone was coping with illness. She always lived for others, was busy, involved, purposeful. She was probably the best listener in the family. Her daughters-in-law have expressed nothing but praise for her love, supportiveness, wisdom, nonjudgmentalness.
My mother was a highly intelligent women who today would have graduated from college and grad or professional school. I suspect she would have become a lawyer like her dad. Maybe she would have run for political office. She would not have become a teacher; that was a pragmatic decision. She makes that clear in her retirement interview in the Uniondale high school newspaper. Most likely she would have had fewer children. I know my parents practiced rhythm, now known as natural family planning. My mom insisted it had worked for her and they wanted each of their kids.
My mom went back to school in 1962 as soon as Mark started kindergarten and went to work full-time when Mark was 11. My grandmother helped out, but working right down the block was an ideal situation. My dad left about 7:30 AM and got home around 7 PM, so he wasn’t involved. Mark had two older brothers at home. Certainly Grandma was never available to help me during weekdays until we returned from Maine. If she hadn’t bee working, I might have gone back to school and then work much earlier.
My family lived very frugally on my father’s income; most of my mom’s earnings went to pay for my younger brothers’ education. Because she was working, they did not win the scholarships Richard, Stephen, and I did, and the cost of college had increased significantly. My dad was retired before Mark graduated from college. So they always raised children on one incomeThat is no longer an option if you chose to live in a major metropolitan area. 827 Henry Street cost them about 7,000 in 1947. They did refinance the mortgage to make the expensive addition of the dining room, garage, and upstairs bathroom and dormer in 1957.
Growing up, I knew four aunts with careers. Joan married late and was a nurse for 10 years, always considered herself a nurse, took refresher courses etc. Uncle Jim’s wife, Aunt Kay, was a teacher and returned to teaching once her youngest started school. Aunt Rosemarie taught high school Math, returned to teaching when Michael started school, went to Hofstra Law School at age 40 and had an excellent job as chief counsel to the president of Stonybrook. My Aunt Mary worked for AT and T and its predecessors for almost 50 years. She advanced rather high. At some point she went to college and got her degree. She considered teaching high school, but I think the phone company offers her a very appealing promotion.
I am not sure about my Koch aunts. As far as I know, none of them ever went to college. I think Agnes was a practical nurse. Peggy worked for Nassau County