I stood in line at the coffee shop Saturday morning, mulling over the blog post I intended to write. I was coming off my first spring break as a stay-at-home/attempt-to-write-at-home mom of three kids: a two-month-old, an almost 3-year-old and a 6-year-old. I looked ahead to summer vacation and wondered whether a babysitter is the answer to my productivity and sanity issues. And then I saw this:
No, not the story about the roaches. That's just gross. I'm referring to the big headline in the middle: "'We do work hard'. Stay-at-home moms defend their roles in wake of Ann Romney-Hilary Rosen comments."
I'm not here to discuss Rosen saying Romney “hasn't worked a day in her life". To me, that’s just political blah blah blah. Here's what made me want to ask the barista to add a shot of vodka to my chai latte:
Women still feel the need to defend themselves?
Why does a woman—any woman—believe she has to validate her self worth and defend her life circumstances or choices? And who really wants to win the "I work harder than you" contest? That conversation sounds like a dangerous race to become the most miserable.
The other day, a well-known powerhouse kind of a woman contacted me, wanting to know if we could collaborate in some way. My answer was yes. Heck yes. When we discussed a time to meet she realized I stay home with my kids. She said, “I don’t know how you do it. My kids are in daycare.”
And I said, "I don’t think I 'do it' very well.”
The wonderful thing about our conversation is that we weren't judging or raising curious eyebrows. We were two unique women, filled with respect and a genuine interest in one another. How might we join forces? We're not sure, but we're going to figure it out.
Long before I became a mom, I went to my doctor to have a mole checked but ended up confessing that I hated my job. I was the crime reporter at a local television station. I even had my own commercial. Everything looked good on paper, but I felt completely lost without a sense of personal or professional direction. I felt stuck. I felt trapped. I worried that the ladder to success led to misery and that one day, I'd reach the top with a shiny resume and a hole in my soul.
My doctor looked at me with compassion and she said, "I have my career and I have my family. And it's hard. I used to think I could have it all. Now I realize I have to make choices."
That was a defining moment in my life.
What did it mean to have "it all", anyway? I’d spent a lot of time wanting what other people had and shaping my life according to other people’s standards and expectations. But what did I want? Had I given myself a chance to stop and think about it? I’d spent a lot of time in motion. Working towards a goal. Running away from pain. It was the first time it occurred to me that I actually had a choice.
My doctor didn't tell me to work harder. She told me she understood. She showed me I wasn’t alone in this fight. We live our life by making choices.
There’s not one right way to do it, my friends. This business of being a woman.
We have so much to share. So much to learn from one another. We can spend all day defending our choices, validating our self-worth, debating over political commentary. But what if we just stopped? Stop defending. Stop dividing. Stop looking at who has it easier, who works harder. Examine your life. Reconcile your choices. And own it.
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