I’ve never had to rely on a man for money. It’s not that I would have minded, but it just didn’t work out that way. My former husband was a struggling writer and artist. At last, at 62, he’s getting some much-deserved recognition. After my husband and I separated, my rich boyfriend wasn’t telling me to quit my job so he could take care of me. And my husband isn’t telling me either.
I sometimes looked enviously at women whose husbands or boyfriends supported them, but no more. I am thrilled I became financially independent, as many FOF women did, even if the process was sometimes scary. I’ll never forget the afternoon in 1981 that I was “laid off” as a feature writer for the Daily News. I was eight months pregnant with my second child and supporting my husband and 2 ½-year-old son. I was too panicked to panic, so I composed a list of all my connections, and then began a phone and letter-writing campaign (remember letters?) My former employer hired me back within a month.
When I ran into Melanie, a college friend, a few years ago, she sadly told me her husband had died and they had lost most everything when his business went south. “I’m so jealous that you have a career,” she said. Ironic, I thought, since Mel was one of these women I used to look at with a tad of envy. I adored her, but whenever I’d see her, I secretly wished I had a husband who could buy me a country house and apartment on Park Avenue, like she did, and I didn’t have to worry about my next deadline or pleasing a Napoleonic boss. Melanie didn’t have to work. I did.
I’m not sure how my life would have turned out if I hadn’t had to work, but that hardly matters at this point. Even if given the choice four decades ago, I’m convinced I would have taken the same path. I love where my career has taken me and that now I can use all the skills I learned in publishing, marketing and selling to create faboverfifty.com for all of us.
Women born in the mid to late forties were expected to get married, have children and take care of their husbands, homes and families. Many of us did just that, successfully and happily. My friend Terry stayed home to raise two wonderful daughters and today she takes care of Edie, her gorgeous new granddaughter, a few days a week.