Do you remember that movie with Sarah Jessica Parker called “I Don’t Know How She Does it?” It journals her trying to keep up with all the balls she’s juggling in professional, personal, and family life. A struggle I’ve heard many women before me talking about, but I never fully understood until now.
I was a working mom when my first child was born. I was a stay at home mom when my second child was born. And no matter what my vocation, I always feel like I am missing the mark.
I love(d) working; I love staying at home. But I also know that these tiny little creatures won’t need me forever, so the last thing I want is to make them my only vocation. On the flip side, BECAUSE these children won’t need me or be little forever I WANT to be here for them as much as possible.
However, who I am doesn’t cease to exist (and shouldn’t cease to exist) just because I have small children. I still have my own needs, my own dreams and goals to accomplish.
You know when you are on an airplane, and they tell you to put your breathing mask on first before you can assist anyone else? Well, mothers need to be allowed to put on their breathing mask on without feeling so damn guilty about it.
Mothers are encouraged to be selfless. In fact, the MORE selfless you are, the better of a mom you are. It’s an imaginary badge of honor to completely deprive yourself of all your needs just so you can take care of your children’s.
And why is that? Because subconsciously a mom knows that every single decision she makes regarding her children is secretly a reflection of the worth of her mothering skills. If she gives her kid too much sugar, too much tv, or doesn’t dress him nicely enough for school… she is judged.
Why don’t men/fathers agonize over this? Why don’t men agonize about what they could be missing at home with their children because they are chasing their dream job instead? Why don’t men agonize over the long hours they spend at the office instead of being at home with their children? Why is it that when a father is gone and working a lot he’s “providing for his family.” But when a woman does it, her priorities are out of wack?
Maybe it’s because culturally/socially women are praised for being mothers and not being corporate leaders/business owners? Maybe women feel obligated to take care of the children because they know the men aren’t? It’s diffusion of responsibility, right?
Or maybe women are just trying to live up to the never ending and unrealistic expectations that are always given to them?
Maybe no matter how progressive society becomes, we still find ourselves trying to live out the identities of traditional gender roles because we aren’t used to seeing it anyway else.