Editorial: Quiet achievers
There is a lot of talk about Catholicism being counter-culture these days. And that certainly applies to the subjects of our fascinating Conversation this week with Mary and Richard Doig.
At a time when many people debate whether to have a second child, let alone a third, the Doigs have gone ahead and produced a bumper crop of 10. And, judging from their photos, they look like a happy, healthy bunch, too.
But that’s not all. Mary, has not allowed mothering a bumper brood to put her brain to sleep - always the danger once one gets absorbed in the delightful world of small children.
She has just completed a Masters degree in education.
At the same time, father-of-the-brood Richard Doig was undertaking a PhD, an experience he describes as “a bit of a blur”. Not surprising really.
But he also says that, although the children obviously had to be cared for, they were not a burden - a very refreshing outlook, given that the modern view of children is often the exact opposite.
The way the Doigs have chosen to live is not for everyone, but their story is inspiring on a number of levels. First, because Mary has, in her own way, managed to solve the dilemma of modern women who want to combine work and family. As well as keeping her brain ticking over by doing a Masters degree, she has also managed to slip a bit of teaching in and plans to do more as the children grow older.
She may be setting herself up for modest success here. Women who take time out from full-time work while their children are small, but study at the same time, often do better when they do return to full-time work than those who try to combine the two from day one. This is because those who try this risk burning out in the process.
The Doigs are unusual in another respect, too. Unlike a lot of Australian men, Richard doesn’t shirk from household duties. Mary says he mucked in cooking gourmet meals and amusing the kids to enable her to study. I wonder if he does washing, too?
Mary, for her part, is - to use an old hippie phrase - no breadhead, a trap that women can fall into in seeking a ‘good provider’. She never queried what Richard was doing when the family had to spend three years largely living on his scholarship, which would have provided very slender means, indeed.
Fortunately, there is perhaps not much call for glad rags or temptation to live the high life in Wagga Wagga. But having lots of kids and choosing to live on slender means is all very counter-culture in this hyper-capitalist society of ours.