Thursday, June 09, 2011

sorting the mess out by reading in the middle of the night

wishlist tray from anthropologie

i grew up with a supermom. she would balk modestly at that label, but she was the epitome of what current culture looks up to -- high powered job, neatly dressed kids, clean house, dinner on the table and a loving and supportive husband. but, thank goodness, she has always been forthright with me about what it takes to "have it all" 110% of yourself, too blessedly close to burnout (the truth is, you can't. not all at once and you will always have to make individual choices to get there, oftentimes sacrificing things not considered popularly important -- hobbies, time for oneself, etc)
so there was no mystique to me.
and i married someone like my dad. someone who took for granted i'd work like his mother did and supported my dreams as to what that would look like and what i would do.
but what i underestimated, especially this last year, when my youngest was safely ensconced at school, was my dream of that coming together into something utopian.
what i wanted was what the majority of women want. something fulfilling and well paying while the kids were at school so i could resume what i want as much or more than professional success during the hours they're home -- to revel in being their mom and then after they went to bed -- hanging out with the man i fell in love and made this life with.
but it was something that was hard to discuss. there is a general cultural feeling of exhaustion -- of how "this is just modern life" this rushing around and biting the heads off the ones we love, and never quite getting the balance right. but just like a recent discussion with girlfriends in which i said i refuse to settle for friendships that are as deep as a puddle, i felt conflicted about the work life i was moving towards.
it's not that i am without options. i have a decent chunk of university coursework to transfer, a supportive spouse, and the model of many great women around me, a mother who did working motherhood exceptionally well, parents who respect my professional choices, and a bulk of bills to pay to make earning a supplementary earning for my family motivating.
but as i looked closer at the women i respected professionally i didn't envy the look of their everyday. and that was hard both to see and to fail to discuss. working motherhood is so polarized that it is the conversational equivalent to the breast vs bottle debate -- no one wins except for the ones who stay out of it ;)
so the last year was spent realizing i am happier with a whole host of unimpressive part-time jobs done from home that support the life i want than to rush the workplace gun and regret it later. (career transition has been postponed 3 more years by which time i will have been at home 17 years and still able to do work i love over 25 years after that DV)
what i realized a while into it, is that while modern day men have been raised to see women as their equals, they in their support of us might talk us into a faster workplace inclusion only to the surprise that family life isn't as cushy as it once was or that we as women are resentful in having to do the bulk of the second shift at home. (not because our modern men won't pitch in but because of the popular opinion that we have higher standards for what the finished job looks like ;)
so it was with great pleasure i consumed danielle crittenden's "what our others didn't tell us: why happiness eludes the modern woman" it offers, like the best books not across the board solutions, but an insightful helpful intelligent sorting of priorities and politics.
is it possible that someone somewhere might think i'm a ridiculous throwback? most likely ;) but i am convinced it is a better life than the one we think we have to settle for -- a lack of investing in the things we know deep down that matter, and a rushing to the next stage of life without savoring the first.


  1. Anonymous7:40 AM

    "no one wins except those who stay out of it" - so well written and a great line I should make my motto :) The entire post was a great read for me, Michelle, thanks! Now, the pedicure lady (chick) might not understand but her heart might not be as lucky with husband/kids to love either.
    God bless as you figure out exactly what working mom looks like for you.
    ~ LeanneO - Won't let me post in my google account

  2. ha ha :)
    for my other readers. the pedicure lady story was way back in the day after my now 6 year old was born, a few friends got together and bought me a pedicure gift certificate. it was summertime and my two oldest were busy boys and home from school and i was postpartum, and had a few hours between the baby's feedings and had an appointment to get my feet done. the spa was running behind and i was left sitting with my feet in cold water and with time running out before next feeding time and they hadn't even started. by the time the woman came into do my feet, i was almost in tears and told her about my current state of mind. upon hearing that i had a 7 year old, a 4 year old and a newborn (all boys ;) she wrinkled her nose and told me that was an "interesting" life path i chose. i never went back to that particular salon again. ha ha.


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