Can women really have it all?
I am a working mom, which for me means that I’m caught between two very different worlds. On one side, I have my job friends, the ones who are working professionals like me–sans kids. On the other side, I have my mom friends, the ones who have two years olds just like I do–sans jobs (full-time anyway). Most of the time, I’m perfectly happy in my little professional-parenthood limbo, but sometimes I become fully aware of my outcast status.
Exhibit 1: Last weekend.
I finally had the opportunity to hang out with my mom friends for our semi-regular monthly gathering–after I had to flake on them two months in a row (a career really gets in the way of a social life). Anyway, our customary outing includes a trip to Dream Dinners to conveniently pack frozen dinners for a few weeks and then lunch (this time, at Mimi’s Cafe). The conversation quickly turned to children (as it usually does)–both our two year olds and my friends’ “buns in the oven.” It just so happens that all of them are pregnant. I am not, and this is by complete choice. I do not plan on having anymore kids; my life is just too busy with one. This is where awkwardness ensues in our exchange. I sit quietly listening to stories about doctor’s appointments and complaints about not being able to eat deli turkey, and I am happy for my friends. After all, my non-pregnant status is completely my decision. For a moment, however, I felt the all-too familiar feelings of guilt and concerns about my own selfishness resurface.
That brings me to Exhibit 2: Saturday Night
In addition to my good friends outside of work, I have several really close friends at work. For a couple of weeks, we’ve had plans to spend tonight out on the town–sort of like a post-Halloween celebration. Our plans were to have dinner and drinks together and just have a good time since we’ve been spending what feels like every waking hour at work lately. My work friends decided that it would be fun, after dinner, to see Rocky Horror Picture Show at a local dinner theater. Being that I had never seen this cult classic, I was completely stoked and ready–until I found out that it starts at midnight. Enter the conflict of parenthood. Two issues come to mind: 1) I don’t want to ask my mom (who is also our babysitter) to stay at our house until two or three in the morning when she has to wake up early on Sunday and 2) the idea of our daughter waking up an hour earlier than normal (because of Daylight Savings) after we’ve gone to bed at three in the morning is not appealing. As a result, we opted out of the show and committed to dinner.
Feminist activists worked (and have been continually working) for years to ensure equality for the feminine members of society. They wanted us to have it all–the ability to have a career and a family. I can’t thank them enough for their hard work because it has given me the opportunity to follow my passion as a professional as well as fulfill my desire to be a mother. And while I am technically living the feminist dream, I have realized that having it all means not only having the freedom to choose, but it also means accepting the chains that come with our choices.