By: Amy Forstadt
There comes a time when maternity leave ends, the bank account is drained, and it’s time for mom to go back to work. For some women, this is a gut-wrenching, heart-breaking experience that involves tearing themselves away from their babies every morning, crying at their desks, and feeling like something is seriously wrong with the world. For others (me) it’s more like, “Hey, check it out. I’m wearing mascara, I’m going out to lunch, and I keep getting paid! Awesome!” I love my son but I also like to work. I never really wanted to be a stay at home mom and since we can’t live on my husband’s salary alone, it wasn’t even an option.
After a few years of freelancing, I got a full-time gig and felt like I’d won the lottery. It was close to my house, close to Benjie’s preschool, paid well, was easy enough, and had cushy hours. Life was good.
But then it all changed. I got involved. I got ambitious. All of a sudden, I’m invested. I hear myself at meetings making suggestions and having ideas, and I know I’ve just volunteered for lots more work. The little voice inside my head is saying, “What are you doing? Stop it! Take the paycheck and run!” even as I’m scheduling more meetings and juggling more deadlines. Suddenly my life is crazy and stressful and I don’t know how I’m going to get it all accomplished. I see women all around me rushing from one place to another, carrying a baby on a hip while taking a conference call with her free hand. I can’t help but wonder, “How do those women do it all? And when did I become one of them?”
The whole work/life balance thing has been a problem for working mothers since the first cavewoman grabbed her cave briefcase and left her cave babies in cave daycare so she could go out and kill something for dinner. It’s not only about balancing your work, your family, your friends, and your occasional need for a mani/pedi. It’s about balancing your ambition with your maternal instinct. It’s about what you WANT to do vs. what you NEED to do, and those things don’t even stay the same day-to-day. I want to do well in my job. I want to be a good mother and wife. I want to bring home the T-Rex and fry it up in the pan. It’s not a new struggle but, for the first time, it’s mine. There’s nothing to do but what countless cavewomen have done before me: square my shoulders, grab my club, and get it done.
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Originally published on The Seattle Lesbian
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