I have a sick little boy who hasn’t gotten up from the couch all day. Usually he’s running circles around me, so it’s tough to see him so lethargic. By contrast, the baby has been screaming without the slightest sign of lethargy; in fact, his screams are so energetic that I’m feeling quite frazzled.
Days like today get me pretty down. I feel discouraged by the lack of things accomplished, worried about my kids, and altogether useless as a contributing member of society outside the realm of my home.
That’s why it was helpful to read this article: “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.” It offers a refreshing look at society’s (and old-style feminism’s) expectations of women nowadays to balance both a family life and a successful career, and how that’s actually not realistic at all unless you’re “superhuman, rich, or self-employed.” The author, a former director of foreign policy in the Obama government, had her dream job after years of work but realized her family was suffering tremendously as a result. She ended up leaving the position.
I don’t have a career right now (unless blogging for fun can be called a career, and I have my doubts about that). The last years of university overlapped with motherhood, and I gradually made the transition to raising kids full-time without ever making a conscious choice. It happened, and I’m happy. But then there are those days, like today, when I feel like pulling out my hair and almost wish that I’d gone in a different direction. Law school, public policy, foreign languages, overseas – that’s the vision I had for myself at age twenty-one. Four years later, how does it change so much?
One thing for certain, though, is that I always knew I wanted a family, and I always wanted to be the one to raise my kids. If I’d had that legal, policy-writing, foreign-speaking dream job in South America or Europe, as the article sensibly explained, I couldn’t have been there to sponge my feverish little boy’s forehead and make him some tea this afternoon. I wouldn’t have been there to rock my baby to sleep this evening. Come to think of it, I probably wouldn’t even have them, and what a terrible thought.
Do I feel like I’ve let myself down for not taking my life in another direction? Sometimes, yes, a little bit, but most of the time, no. I never thought raising kids would be this satisfying, and the time for a career outside the home will come. I might not make it to the top-notch position because my loyalties lie elsewhere now, priorities have evolved, and I’ll be older, but at least I won’t be trying to spread myself too thin.
Best of all, I don’t have to find babysitting for my sick little boy when he needs me the most, because I’m right there.