So my post the other day, among many other things, got me thinking – about women in general and about my personal place in everything. I know it wasn’t quite what that post was all about, and it was maybe going off on a bit of a tangent, but the part about my own self confidence and feeling so inferior in a roomful of working mothers has really been getting to me.
The women I was with are wonderful and I feel blessed to have met them. They by no means do anything to make me feel bad. At the get-together the other night some of us were meeting for the first time and so we did a little introduction session. As each woman stated their children’s names and ages and then their profession, I began feeling smaller and smaller and less and less of a real person. When I spoke I was sure to emphasize my editorial work over my stay-at-homeness. Because, who am I really? They all have children AND jobs/careers//professions. Why do I only have the children part?
I think there is some pressure out there, both overt and implied, that in order to be a feminist, in order to be a real woman, and often in order to be a good mother, you must also have a career. I’m sure there are plenty of working moms who feel the opposite. But, especially here in New York, where people are so defined by what they do for a living and stay-at-home moms are rare, it can be easy to get caught up by feeling inadequate. And I’m not even totally a stay-at-home mom. I do plenty of paid work in addition to my child work and house work and everything else.
So, as I was working the other day, I took some time to think. If I wanted to go back to work full time, I most likely could. I know of a few things opening up and I’m sure I could make the change. But I tell myself it’s not possible because I’m afraid. I’m afraid that if I admit that I could go back to work, and yet I choose to stay home with my kids, that I am some sort of failure as a woman. So I thought to myself. When I was working in publishing, at a job that I didn’t love, but liked and got satisfaction from, how did I feel? Now that I’m here, taking care of my kids and picking up freelance jobs, how do I feel?
The surprising answer is that overall, day in and day out, I am FAR happier now than I was then. I don’t want to feel guilty about that. When I was working, before I had kids, I was always longing for a change, looking at other jobs and other cities and other lives to figure out what it was that I really wanted. I still occasionally feel that way, but those moments are few and far between. I no longer have to contend with that constant pull of another life, that wistful feeling in the back of my mind, always telling me that what I was doing was not what I wanted to be doing.
I’m not happy all day everyday. I don’t get much time to myself. I don’t often get to do what I want to do. Little people, for whom I work very hard, yell at me every single day. I get exhausted and beaten down and overwhelmed. Sometimes I want to run away. Sometimes I am dying for uninterrupted, adult conversation. I am grateful for the connection I still have with my professional life and when I take a job that takes me out of the house, I really, really enjoy it. But mostly, I like where I am. I don’t want to be living another life and I think it’s time I accepted that. The fact that I am constantly telling myself that I need to be more than just what I am has been holding me back for far too long.
While I was running today, I had this song on repeat and I decided it’s going to be my new theme song. Don’t worry, I’m not planning on crashing any cars or pushing anyone’s shit down the stairs (although I am tempted from time to time). It’s the chorus that I need to remember, “I don’t care! I love it!”