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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Broadus Mitchell, August 14 and 15, 1977. Interview B-0024. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Balancing the demands of work and family

Mitchell's wife, Louise, joins the interview and discusses her career as a teacher following their move to New York City around 1942. Louise Mitchell emphasizes how she sought to balance the demands of work and family here and admits that things became easier for her when the children were older. In addition, she stresses the fact that the flexibility in terms of schedule that her job offered and the fact that they were able to hire a woman to help care for the children during the day offered her more leeway than experienced by many working women.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Broadus Mitchell, August 14 and 15, 1977. Interview B-0024. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

I suppose I'm one of the kinds of women who nowadays would consider going somewhere other than where her husband lives for a job. But as I was getting into a teaching career, that would never have occurred to me. People do it now. I'm not sure how well it works, and I'm not sure I would have done it. What I did satisfied me.
You juggled two careers very nicely, it seems from the outside. Mrs. MITCHELL: Yes. I confess that it was a relief when the children were big enough so that there wasn't the constant problem of what happens if they're sick. And that kind of combining family and career means that it's like being a juggler, keeping about seven balls in the air all at the same time, and in constant danger of dropping at least two. And when they were old enough to take themselves to school and when they began to be old enough to stay at home alone sometimes, it was a tremendous relief. I liked it even better when they went away to college, because then I didn't have to deal with the problems of three other people and shovel them out the front door before I could contemplate what I was going to open my mouth and say [laughter] when I got inside a classroom in an hour or so. But it was never really a burden, and one of the reasons why it wasn't was that we had this place to come to in the summer. We had college and university vacations always. The children spent their summers here, in the old house across the road, from the time they were babies, and that was our time together in a way that a working mother who has a nine-to-five job can't approximate. And also my time was somewhat flexible; I could sometimes be home when they were coming home from school. Also, parttime help was much easier to get in New York, or in any big city, I think, than in smaller places. And we were fortunate, when Chris was a baby, in having a very fine lady who came in when I had to be out. She was a widow; she had lived in New Orleans; she, after her husband's death, had had enough money to live on in France until the outbreak of war, which brought her back to the United States. And here she didn't have enough to live on, and she supplemented what she had with a parttime job. She was the more remarkable because, although she was old enough to be my mother, and she didn't always agree with what I thought should be done with an infant and an older child, she was willing to do it my way because she felt that that was the right thing to do. So we never had any overt differences about what was appropriate to do with the children.