As women, we’re taught to want something more out of life than just to be a someone’s spouse or someone’s mom. You should protect yourself by being able to support yourself. You don’t want to be a walking stereotype.
And then you become a parent and you realize exactly how difficult it is to work while raising small children. That stressful job becomes even more stressful. You seem to work just to pay for childcare. When they reach school age, you deal with school hours and worry about how you’ll get them to school and what you’ll do with them when they get out at 3:00. Between work and your children, there is a list of 500 things you have to remember every morning that is always changing. Sometimes, the everyday struggle gets to be too much.
And then there’s the guilt of not being there for your kids. You miss milestones. School events. You seem not to be as in touch as other parents when it comes to what’s going on in your child’s life. You want to spend every moment outside of school with them but that means you never get any time to yourself.
It’s no wonder so many women step away from their careers. My friend and I were joking about the trend we see among women in the legal field. While pregnant with the first child, the expecting mother believes she is going to remain full time and have it all. The child is born, she realizes how much “having it all” sucks and she goes part time for a year or two. She then has a second kid and becomes a stay at home mom.
We joke, but we’re just jealous. We can’t afford to stay home, but would love to have that option. Who knew being a stay-at-home mom could be so fulfilling or alternatively, trying to stay ahead in a demanding career while worrying about everything your kids need would be so damn hard? We try to hold onto our careers and then we try to make peace with being unable to do so.
Recently, I watched a documentary called Women’s List. It had several interviews with women who’ve lived groundbreaking lives. One of the subjects raised was how to balance work with children. Madeleine Albright answered this question by saying, and I’m grossly paraphrasing, “you live your life in segments.” Shonda Rhimes never does any housework, so she can spend all her spare time with her child.
I was inspired by the documentary, but not all of us can afford a housekeeper. Not all of us can bring our kids to work when we’re stuck without care like Madeleine Albright did. Hell, most of us would get fired. We don’t have nannies. We don’t get breaks. Doing it all isn’t so easy for most of us.
And so we plod on and can’t help but fantasize about how wonderful it would be to stay home. To finally be able to fully focus on our kids. To have time for hobbies. To be able to slow down and enjoy life. There should be no guilt for wanting this. Not when we go through so much just to get through each day.