I remember when my children were young. Not that they're not young now, but one's on the verge of twelvedom which feels like adolescence and one's beginning to sweat in a way that makes me think of a locker room when I walk past him in the hallway. Far from needing their diapers changed, they still need a lot, and harkening back to the days when they were little, it feels like it's been twelve years of putting myself through a cheese grater. There are so many strands of me flying out in so many different directions that at times I've cursed the phrase "having it all" under my breath as I negotiated hurriedly into my cell phone with my son's school nurse and rushed off to teach my next class...
There have been moments when I thought, "What on earth was I thinking?" when I took on the seemingly superhuman task of bearing, raising and loving two children and then going out and maintaining and excelling at a career. I just wanted to have a family and was raised in the seventies, by a working mom, with friends whose mothers all worked, and so I was raised to believe working outside the home was a normal state of being for a woman.
These days so many of us take for granted the fact that we'll simultaneously hold a job and raise a family that we feel inadequate somehow if it all seems too much. But really, it is too much. Particularly without the assistance of extended family, loads of ready cash or a live-in nanny, preparing for your job, cleaning your house, loving your partner (if you've got one) and taking care of your offspring can feel, at times, not like having it all, but as if you have nothing at all.
There is an unspoken level of tension, depression and hopelessness among "career women" or "working mothers" who so often struggle with the twin dragons of mothering and professionalism, slicing themselves up in the process, never feeling whole, never feeling centered and always wondering what's been left undone.