I try not to be judgemental. I really do and I think the older I’ve become the less quick to judge I am. As a matter of fact, I know my perception of the world has changed, but at times that scares me.
Tonight I was perusing through Facebook, looking at pictures of some friends from college, getting caught up on their lives. There were a few, whose names I won’t mention, but ones that caught my eye. More specifically, these are female friends who’ve fought and worked hard for themselves in life. They’ve set their goals on what they want to achieve and have managed to achieve those goals and on top of all of that they’ve managed to integrate motherhood into the fold. I look at a lot of these women and I admire them. They’re smart, kind-hearted, brave, hard-working and some of the most loving souls you’ll ever meet. And they’ve passed all of those traits onto their child, while not losing who they were or what they wanted to be in life.
There was a time when all I wanted was to climb that corporate ladder. I voraciously went through school books, took classes, managed to have three degrees and fought hard to be recognized for my abilities. I used to make fun of women who would spend years and thousands of dollars getting all this wonderful education and then letting it go to waste because they chose the age-old motherhood route. I know an extremely smart woman who has a Master’s Degree in chemical engineering! I mean let’s be serious here, chemical engineering! I can’t even compete with that magnitude of brain power, but she gave it all up to become a mother and not just once, but four times! I would scoff at women who would say that they wanted to be stay-at-home moms and housewives. After all, didn’t Betty Friedan and Danielle Crittenden work so hard to get women out of the home and into the office? So, why would we ever want to back track to a way of thinking where women were only good for one thing? These were the thoughts that constantly swirled through my head every day that I would see another friend give up her career and her identity to be a mother. Their actions terrified me because it was something that I didn’t understand.
Now I’m in the same boat with all of these women, before me and alongside me, who are becoming mothers, choosing the path of nurture as opposed to corporate America. Unfortunately, I would be lying if I said it still didn’t terrify me, but the problem is I’m not terrified in the aspect of will I be a good mother. I know I’ll be an awesome mom. What terrifies me the most is am I losing myself, and if I am losing myself is it such a bad thing if you’re doing it for the sake of your child, a precious gift, something that is a part of you? I mean, I suppose you can look at it as not losing yourself, but giving yourself, and that’s how I’m trying to perceive it.
These days all I can think about is all the wonderful memories I want to create with my child when it’s born. I want to be around when it takes its first step, bakes its first cookie, creates its first play-dough man, reads its first book, says its first word. I want to be around to teach it so many things, to encourage it and help it grow, but at what sacrifice to me? I’ve never been able to imagine not working in my life, it’s just not something that’s thought about, at least not until now. I feel like I’m torn. I feel like I’m going to be missing out on so much in the corporate world, but by the same token I’m going to be gaining a lot that some women won’t ever experience.
Two of my friends, Beth and Erin, have been the ones to make me think a lot, and they don’t even know they’re doing this. Beth just got married and she told me this awesome story about an interview she had. I was so happy for her, but by the same token I was jealous. Then there’s Erin, who posted on her Facebook account that she was one promotion away from that new Mulberry handbag. I read that post and all I could think was I’ll have no more promotions if I choose to stay home with my child. I’m worried about my mentality over this. Is this normal to be so conflicted over becoming a mother versus continuing my career? Am I the only one that experiences these pains and if not, will I continue to go down this road, revisiting Losing My Identity Lane at the cross-section of Motherhood and Career Avenues?