Home > Family, Me, Work > When your age doesn’t match your stage of life…

When your age doesn’t match your stage of life…

I’ve found that there’s a disconnect between the secular world and the Orthodox Jewish world.

An understatement you say? Let me be more specific…

It seems that there is a secular life trajectory and the “frum” life trajectory.  What follows is a gross over-generalization but I think you’ll agree with me.

Secular: High School, College, Job/Graduate School, Job/Graduate School, Find/Date/Live with significant other, Marry significant other, Enjoy being married to said significant other, Enjoy being married to said significant other some more, Talk about having kids, Have a kid, Consider having another kid, Maybe have another kid… cue settling down into domesticity.

Frum: High School, Seminary, Leave seminary to date, Date as quickly as possible, Enter some sort of profession, Date and Get Married (note they follow one another so quickly as to be in the same time period!), Have first kid, Have second kid, Have third kid, Have fourth kid, Have Husband enter some sort of profession, Have fifth kid etc etc… You get the picture. Domesticity from the get go.

I have fallen somewhere in between – broken the mold so to speak.  Spending years gearing up for a professional career with all the right high school jobs, college academics, college internships and work experience to mold me into the consummate young professional.  I was aiming to be THE young Jewish professional, probably an upper west sider, living the dream.

And then I went WAAAAYYYY off track.  Graduated college, traveled for a summer while attending seminary, came home, met my husband one month later, dated for one month, got engaged, got married and had Munchkin #1 10 months later – phew.  Munchkin #2 came exactly 19.5 months later.

Definitely not what most people expect from a 25 year old.

Case in point::

I’ve been going on some informational interviews lately to learn more about the development field and just generally get some ideas for fundraising best practices etc.  Today, I was fortunate to maximize my time by having two meetings with two seasoned development professionals in the same organization.  I always try to keep the personal information to a minimum, no mention of family or religion.. just professional.  I got dressed in my best suit (well, honestly the only one that barely fits after having two kids and spending most of the last two years in maternity clothes) and put my best foot forward.

One topic I’m desperate to find out more about is can you have a career that’s professional rewarding while having a family life?  Aka is flex time a possibility in the non-profit world?

To feel this out, I asked the first woman if her job brought her to a lot of travel and would jobs similar to my skill set require lots of travel.  She started talking about all the opportunities for overnight trips in the US and abroad and how pursuing the donor and being willing to travel was a great asset to my profile.

And then I realized… she’s seen my resume and met me.  Her impression was not married woman, mother of two.  She saw, young professional, seeking exciting experiences, travel on my employer’s dime, and a young woman looking to advance herself and her career.

ok.  then my second meeting.

We got to talking, he kept referencing my resume and saying you graduated recently in 2007 right?  As if confirming that I was the youngster he was expecting.  And then the conversation turned to salary negotiations and how one would negotiate for flex-time.  He asked me, well what kind of flex-time are you interested in?  Then I dropped the bomb…

Well I have children so I am trying to find out about flex-time that would accommodate that.

His response was not normal.

You have children? More than one? [long pause]  ARE THEY YOURS?

I tried to contain myself.  Did I look like the person who would have stepchildren at the age of 25? Did he want to see my c-section scar for proof? And lastly, is it THAT strange a situation?

So I just politely responded, with a rueful smile, yup, they’re both mine!

And then he continued as if my confirmation still really didn’t make it true.  So let me see, he said, you got married in 2008 and have children already? And more than one.  You must have had them right away.

Well sir for someone who raises millions of dollars, it seems like your math skills when it comes to months and years need a little bit of time to kick in!  But thanks for playing the let-me-figure-out-when-you-conceived-your-children-game! oy.

This experience just convinced me that I’m living outside the mold.  And these people are also parents!  It even made me a bit defensive.  But I love my kids.  And I always wanted kids and to be a young mother. And my children are adorable and enrich my life in so many ways.

It just seems like I should have had them 10 years from now.

Just another example of living in two worlds…

to be continued…

Categories: Family, Me, Work
  1. December 16, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    Oh my gosh, he asked if your children were yours? That is too funny/sad! I have a sort of reverse situation, where in the frum world people look at me askance when they find out that I’m 30 and I ONLY have two children (and ONLY three years of marriage). Ha! One sweet FFB told me, “but you can’t be older than me!”

  2. ruchi
    December 17, 2010 at 8:49 am

    Love your blog.

  3. Lea
    December 18, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    I hope you keep blogging. i’m hooked.

  4. December 27, 2010 at 10:46 am

    Hi Chavi! I just read this blog for the first time. I had an experience today (I am 25, married, with one baby) on a bus in Israel when a non-religious Israeli lady sized me up then asked me:
    “how old are you?”
    “why don’t you have more children??”
    ‘um, I got married a year and a half ago…”
    “oh. one of my daughters waited a long time to get married, too. Mizkena.” (btw Mizkena is Hebrew for Nebach!)


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