For reasons unknown to me, Lake Erie College decided to give me an honorary doctorate in humane letters. When the dean first called, I thought it was a hoax. Then he called again. I told my three-year-old, and she said that I couldn’t be a doctor, only a nurse. Years of speechifying and legal fights, and my toddler had summed up the global state of womanhood in three words. Already a year earlier my son had asked me if people thought his conductor-father was more important than I was, given how they applauded everything he did. That was during a long sabbatical I took to care for my kids, when I mutated from globetrotting concert pianist to carpool driver.
Children speak the truth: a medical doctor is a man more often than not, and the workingman has a higher social status than the stay-at-home mom. That said, a mother who bakes cookies is more nurturing than one who is celebrated on stage.
“We’re proud of your success, Mom, but can’t you postpone your career until we’re eighteen?”