This week I just received my copy of the "Harvard and Radcliffe Class of 1990, Fifteenth Anniversary Report" in the mail. All 1600 of my college classmates, their lives laid out on the page. Except of course for those 11 listed in the back of the book as Deceased, including Maria Psychas, talented and beautiful, an acquiantance of mine who died long before her time.
In the 5th year report, and to some extent in the 10th year report, the dominant theme was success and ambition. Everyone was making partner in their Law or Consulting or Investment Banking Firm. Everyone was writing a favorably-reviewed book, touring the world giving concerts or working hard at the billion-dollar Internet firm they had founded.
Now, in the 15 year report, there is a change and it is visible to everyone. One girl, who I happen to know is a famous Hollywood TV writer and Producer with a string of well-known TV series to her credit, mentions this not at all. Instead she writes:
I have heard the opinion expressed that there is no point in a woman getting a Harvard education if she's just going to shunt her career aside in favor of being a mother. Of course, that presumes there is nothing before or after being a mother and that it wouldn't be awfully nice to have a mother who could explain Latin American history or Shakespeare....it got me thinking what it all means, this new religion called parenting. It is easy to satirize the parent of today, but I think parenting had to become a religion because it is competing with the religion called career.
Another acquiantance, who grew up near me and is now a succesful investment banker in Manhattan, devotes the space in his biography to encouraging other classmates to call and set up "playdates" between his children and theirs.
In an email mailing list, set up to allow all of us to communicate, yet another classmate (and former roommate of mine) writes:
I'm not going to be at the [reunion] but I, like [another classmate], am pretty interested in what the whole thing means. One interesting thing was that the 15th anniversary reports followed a much tighter typology than the 10th--I think kids are a crucial homogenizing moment, at least externally.
There are still some in the Report who write about their career trajectory but, with few exceptions, they tend to be single. After 15 years our class seems to have suffered a stark split into two religions- the religion of family and the religion of career. On the other hand, 40% of us, including me, wrote nothing at all. What is the third religion?