Sunday, December 18, 2011

I can't have it all.

I am so grateful to all the women before me who fought to be seen as equals to men. Growing up, it never occurred to me that I wouldn't go to college and have a career. I also knew I wanted to have children, and wanting both of those things in my life never seemed to conflict. When I got pregnant a month before starting my Ph.D. program, the thought of leaving the program was ridiculous to me. There was no question that I would just put my baby in daycare and finish my program. After all, I told myself, my kid would be so young when I finished school that he or she probably wouldn't even remember momma working all those long hours. My life's plan was to get my Ph.D. and become Dr. Kimberly, working in my own practice as a Clinical Psychologist.

Thank god I got pregnant with my first child. When I started feeling those flutters in my womb, I knew I couldn't put my baby in daycare and keep working the hours that I was. I didn't even like my program. Having a baby gave me an excuse to get off of the Ph.D. train - a train I'd been on so long that I'm sure I wouldn't have jumped off all on my own. The masters program I completed was a much better fit for myself and my family and even after having a second child, I still believed I'd be using that Master's degree (at least part-time) while also being a great mother to my children.

After being a mother for almost 4 years now, I have a confession to make. I can't have it all. Yes, I can have a career. Yes, I can be a mother. But for me, I can't have both at the same time. Sure, I could go out and get a job, put my kids in daycare or preschool and probably keep our house running decently. I could do it just like I know many other women do. But I like to feel like I'm doing my job really well and when I try to take on two jobs, one of them suffers a bit. I'm just not a great working mom.

I'm probably not a great stay-at-home-mom either. I complain a lot about how hard the job is (was doing that last actually, and probably scared a woman out of wanting children) and no lie, there are days when I can't wait to get back out to the working world of adulthood. But even on the worst of days, there is something so special about my children that I also dread the day that they will be in school more hours than they are with me at home. A little self-sacrifice is nothing compared to my child walking up and saying, "Ya know what mom? I love you."

I will get a job at some point. It's not in my nature to stay at home permanently. Thing 1 just asked me (seriously, she JUST sat down beside me), "Mom, where is your school?" and I told her, "I don't go to school anymore." She looked up at me and said, "Awww mom, that's sad!" "It's ok," I told her, "I went to school for a long time and learned lots of things, but I stopped going to school because I wanted to take care of you and your sister." My little girl just smiled and said, "Thanks, mom."

I, personally, can't have it all at the same time. Maybe if I could balance it a little better, a career and kids would be perfectly in sync. But since one of them is going to suffer, I'd much rather it be my career. Another year and Thing 1 will be starting kindergarten and Thing 2 will be in preschool. My career will always be waiting for me. My kids won't. I guess I'm taking one for the feminist team.... But really, I think I'm doing exactly what feminists worked for. I'm making my own decisions based on what I want to do with my life. Having options doesn't mean that you have to choose everything at once. Having options means that we can choose what works best at any given time. And at this time in my life, what works best is working here, in my home, with my beautiful children.

Even if they drive me a little crazy sometimes. :)

1 comment: