Mel asked an arresting series of questions:
“We want to accomplish so much, we want to break that glass ceiling, we want to be seen as more than wives/mothers/daughters/sisters. And at the same time, we are limited by men…and we limit ourselves. We worry how others perceive us. Are we cold if we want to stay at work and not pick up a vomiting child? Do we seem uncaring if we don’t show up to school events? Offer to host Thanksgiving? Take care of an ailing parent? Do we seem like we don’t have our priorities in the right place if we take a job that requires a lot of hours away? Do we look like a failure if we can’t juggle work and parenting neatly?”
She astutely points out that no one sits around judging men for their various choices. This is true: if there is a dad at a school event, other moms often say: “Good for him for coming!” Why is that? I’ve never heard anyone say that about a working mom who shows up.
We have much lower expectations of men. We scrutinize men less.
Esperanza also has notes:
“How are we supposed to succeed when these roles are at war with each other? How can we ever be dedicated mothers and wives when our careers pull us away from our husbands and children? How can we take advantage of our education when we do so at the expense of our family? If we want, or are forced, to do all three we are setting ourselves up for failure.
And here is where the guilt comes in, and the judgement – the condemnation of ourselves that turns outwards in the disapproval of others. If we can never satisfy our own standards, we better find everyone else lacking as well.”
There is some serious wisdom here. About why we judge. About why we feel guilty. I think she’s right.
I personally feel like a loser all the time. I compare, compare, compare. Look at so-and-so who has five kids and works full-time as a lawyer. Look at her, the one who grows all her own organic food. Just being at a birthday party is often excruciating and painful. Look at X, who’s so skinny and works out. WHY DON’T YOU DO THAT?
WHY DON’T YOU DO THAT? might as well be the question that defines my life right now.
But it shouldn’t.
There was a job I once had. I thought I was a failure at this job. I looked back recently at the results of my tenure, and actually the company was terribly successful during my management. I had NO IDEA.
Have there ever been so many high-achieving women? Have there ever been women who put so much thought into being ready to be mothers? Have there ever been so many mothers who care so much and try so hard? Has there ever been a generation in history so consumed with raising their children to be happy and healthy adults? I think not.
So here’s the truth.
I had a very productive career. I worked many hours and climbed the ladder and achieved excellent results most of the time.
Now I’m a SAHM. My children are smart, happy and tremendously confident.
I work hard at my marriage.
I know you all give 120% to everything you do, too. I know you are superlative at your job, juggling life, managing your relationships.
We should feel RAD about ourselves. All of us. We rule. We really, really do.
What are YOU most proud of?