It is the beginning of another week and the smell of fall is in the air. For most people, this is the time of year where things start to speed up. For me, with most of my family back to work, things start to slow down and get a lot quieter around our house. As much as I love the peace and quiet and the down time with Eliza, it also means more time to contemplate and worry. My mind is literally always going. I am always thinking about something; politics, business, babies, our future, our home, bills, career. It would be nice to really know what it means to be still and quiet. Clearly, I should work on adding more meditation to my morning yoga.
Lately, I have found myself thinking a lot about my role as a mom, a wife and a woman. It has been harder than I had imagined for me to transition away from teaching. I have been missing my professional life recently and I have been trying to pinpoint why. I think some of it has to do with the time of year, my cousins going back to school as students, one of them in my old teaching partner’s class, and my aunts going back to their classrooms. Hearing these stories, even the bad ones about meetings, had me longing for my own classroom and students; my own freedom and, frankly, the praise that comes from being really fantastic at your job. I had this nagging feeling, though, that the time of year wasn’t fully to blame for my angst. I have read quite a few articles and social media commentaries recently about mom shaming. You see it everywhere; stay at home moms criticizing moms that choose to, or have to, work outside the home, and equal numbers of working moms criticizing stay at home moms for not being feminists, and perpetuating an antiquated view of women. I grew up around both working moms and stay at home moms and I have always been of the persuasion that women having the choice to be whatever they want is the most feminist view point and that families should make the best decision for their circumstances and aspirations. There are dozens of factors that go into making childcare and parenting decisions, economic, religious, and personality to just name a few. There is no easy answer. I have a sneaking suspicion that if you asked most women their view on this issue, the majority of them would give you a similar answer to mine, something about personal choice and families doing what works for them. So then why is it that if most of us recognize the difficulty of this choice and the lack of a right and wrong answer, that we are so viciously hard on each other? Why do we lash out at women that are making different decisions than us? Is it really that we are so concerned about their well-being and the well-being of their children? I would guess not. As I was struggling with my own decision to be at home more and sacrifice my former professional life, I realized that I was the one putting this pressure on myself. We all want to think that we are making the right decision. We all want to believe that we are secure and confident in the decisions that we make for our children, after all they are the biggest responsibility that we will ever have. So if we are making the “right” decision and another woman makes a different one, then she must be wrong. Basically, we are letting our own insecurities and struggles weigh us down and then trying to lessen our load by throwing some of the weight onto other women.
Each one of us, and probably me in particular, need to cut ourselves some slack. I am making the best decision I can for my family at this point. I am so thankful for the fact that I even have the option to make this a decision when there are so many women whose decision is made for them. At some point, I may decide that I want to teach again, but for now I am sinking in and finding peace in my decision to take a completely different path professionally and be at home more for the first years of our kids’ lives. I am finding meaning and passion in working on “Furnish,” while having the flexibility of working from home. I am embracing my new role and all of the opportunities that it presents. I have discovered a lot about myself in this short time. I am easily bored, easily conflicted, and more driven than I ever would have known. I have also become much more nuanced and comfortable in my womanhood. I am finding my own place in the world as a mom, a business owner, a writer, and a woman.
Women are multifaceted, amazing creatures to behold. We are fierce and emotional. We are powerful and compassionate. We are everything to everyone. We are total badasses and we are all just trying to figure it out. We will never figure it out. We need to accept that, and allow ourselves to make decisions, take them back, and ever evolve. Once we can do that, empathy and encouragement will abound for the only others walking this earth that can fully understand our struggle and our immense strength. Women. MEB