As a child of the 80s and 90s I was taught by my parents, teachers and Barbie that we girls could do anything. You could be an astronaut or a cardiologist or, if you're living in a pathetic fantasy world, sure, you could also be a housewife. Wait a minute. But my mom was a housewife (most of the time) as was her mom and her mother before her. Why, suddenly, was the future of gender equality squarely on my shoulders?
If you were around back in 1992 and asked the ten year-old me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have said with some confidence I was going to be a writer. I had just received my first electric typewriter (my parents thought word processors were too high-falutin', apparently) and was convinced that someday I would be studying philosophy at Columbia while living in a pied a terre and writing the great American novel.
Still working on that. If you have any contacts at Columbia, please put in a good word for me.
At fifteen I had grown out of dreams to write (how silly I'd been) and was ready to give up all my worldly possessions and go tie myself to a tree somewhere. I wanted to be an activist. Or maybe an actress-slash-activist because, well, we all need a little glamor in our lives, and I had to find some way to make that hundred million dollars I'd be donating to hip charities. Marriage and family were about the last priority I could possibly imagine. I didn't want kids, I wanted chaos.
Now I've come full circle (or, 180 degrees, maybe?) I write for fun, not to change the world, and would pretty much be content if my profession was keeping house. What I want to be when I grow up now is a housewife. I'd like to wear pearls and a party dress while I whip up a gelatin salad and a five-layer coconut cake. I don't want to be oppressed or anything (and you can keep the kids, thank you very much) but who says you have to be an astrophysicist to be satisfied?
I'd still like the pied a terre, though. And maybe someday I'll ask the boyfriend to tie me to a tree, just for fun.