I made it.  Quit my legal career when I was pregnant with child number three and sick, falling more and more behind on everything with each tick of the clock.  For whatever reason, there was no voice, from inside me or from anywhere else, encouraging me not to quit, telling me that it would only be this bad for a very short time, and that the risk of giving up my ability to support myself was too great to give in so easily.img_1328  My husband was supportive of what I wanted to do, and even after I stopped work, he shared the parenting and the housework that was not done by others.  And I’m still married.  And I ultimately discovered something I enjoyed more than practicing law.  I was lucky.  A lot of women are not. 

Leslie Bennetts dedicates The Feminine Mistake to her mother, her baby-sitter, her daughter, and in memory of Betty Friedan, “the visionary who first opened my eyes.”

Betty Friedan is, of course, the author of the The Feminine Mystique, published in 1963, the book that revealed women were unhappy in their limited roles of wife, mother, housekeeper.

Apparently, now, 40 years later, significant numbers of women are retreating from the workplace to the home.  Leslie Bennetts wanted to find out why and how it was working out.  It is the stories of these women–some using their real names but most not–that propel the reader forward.  It is unnecessary toward the end of the book, when the author writes, “So the main thing I want to say to other women is this: Protect yourself.”  A man is not a financial plan. 

Take maternity leave.  Work part-time.  Lower your standards (House, episode 1-19-09).  Switch jobs.  But don’t drop the thread.  It’s all but impossible to start over again from scratch.  And to quit work because you only make enough to pay the sitter is to ignore the long-term earning potential of your job.  “Your career is an investment you make in yourself…”

Women must take the lead in insisting that everyone wins when both parents participate in raising the children and taking care of the home.  Investment in a career you love as well as in your family will give each of us “the fullest possible life.”

“It has become inescapably clear that choosing economic dependency as a lifestyle is the classic feminine mistake…it’s simply too risky to count on anyone else to support you [and your children] over the long haul.”