On the Line: For the Wife Of a Soldier, a Tough Call

By Kayt Sukel
Special to The Washington Post
Monday, November 12, 2007

It feels like the first day of school.

I decide to wear gray pants with a stylish black jacket, an ensemble I hope says I'm the right person for the job. Really, the only one for this job.

For once, the mirror reflects exactly the image I want -- a confident, intelligent woman. But as I gather my things to leave the house, I find a problem with my clothing selection.

There is no place for my cellphone.

I need to find an outfit more practical when it comes to keeping a phone handy since it's too inaccessible in my purse. But there's no time. Near tears, I tuck my phone under my bra strap, making a mental note to hide it elsewhere during my interview.

* * *

I had no such concerns the last time I sought a job.

Two years earlier, I was offered the job before I left the room. The position was exactly what I'd been working toward my entire corporate life. But when I told my boyfriend the good news, his congratulations were cautious. He wanted to know what it would mean for us.

We were already long-distance and saw each other only on weekends. The new job was in California, a long flight instead of a short drive away.

That he was a soldier, disappearing for frequent training missions, also complicated things. I had to admit there was a good chance if I took the offer that I would not be able to make the relationship work.

I turned it down. Why would I walk away from what I would always refer to afterward as the job? With the war in Iraq looming, the possibility of marriage and family seemed more important than a job.

Still, I had my reservations. Had I succumbed to the myth that a woman had to choose between career and family?

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