This week has been a strange one. I find myself trying to make the mental shift from all day mom, laundry washing maniac, dish doer, and head chef to all of that PLUS working woman. That's right, the new school year is upon us and I have very conflicted feelings on the issue. I like what I do, I really do. I am a teacher- and on a good day, in a good month, of a good year, I influence someone else's child.
True, my kids are in school until 1 pm and I am done with my assignment everyday by noon. Nothing to complain about, I have the best of both worlds, I know. I kiss my kids goodbye in the morning, and leave them with my husband until my mom arrives to take them to school. There is no day care and never has been. I do not have to rush them through breakfast to make it to a bus so I will not be late for work. I pick them up when their day is over and have the afternoon to do homework, play, be the mom taxi around town, and do the things I didn't do all morning. So why feel conflicted? Why feel torn about returning to this routine, that by all measures is the easiest of all my friends and the working moms I know?
The answer is fairly simple, but may prove to be unpopular to any women who may stumble upon my thoughts. The feminist movement really screwed me. I know, I know- equal pay, equal opportunity, anything he can do I can do better, blah blah blah. Because of the incredibly difficult path the women before us plowed, we now have the chance to do it all. How is that a problem you ask? It's a problem because I feel compelled to do it all- keep the house Pottery Barn catalog perfect, manage a career, drive the kiddies here - there - everywhere; do the laundry, wash the dishes, clean the house, raise the children, feed the family, oh and take care of myself once in a while too. I am SURE there are those of you out there who are just like me. We do it all not because we can, but because we feel we MUST- lest we be judged a failure by the spirits of those who came before us and fought so hard for our opportunities.
I cannot and will not argue that women should go back to the days of waiting on pins and needles for the husband to return home, to being denied access to choices on their health, to being excluded from what we deem as basic human rights. I am grateful that someone came before me and fought that fight. I only know that somewhere in reaching for basic human freedoms, we started feeling that since we can do it all- we have to do it all and do it all to perfection. Maybe that's just me and the pressure I put on myself, but I am willing to guess I'm not alone in this. Show of hands if you find yourself wondering what more you should do, because you weren't quite perfect enough in all you did today...go ahead, raise them high- I know you're out there.
Well people, here is the sad truth in my life. I'm not perfect and I actually can't do it all. My laundry takes days to put away, there are dishes in the sink when I walk into the kitchen most mornings, and the whole house is a play room. Pottery barn will not be stopping in for a photo shoot anytime in the future...ever. And herein is the conflict. There is a voice in my head that whispers, "Why isn't your house more tidy? Don't sit down to read a book after the kids go to bed- do the laundry, be efficient!" Sometimes the voice even whispers, "are you sure you've done enough for your kids today?" Bastard. How dare you question my parenting, my devotion to my children, my love? How dare I question my parenting, my devotion, my love. I know it's there...it's there in spades.
But what's a girl to do...I say choose. Choose the most important parts of your life and do those pieces to your utmost. What is it that will make you a good mom? Is it a spotless, catalog cover, 'no toys on the floor' kind of house? It certainly is not for me. I've chosen that the most important things in my life are the happiness of my children (even if the cost is a pile of My Little Pony coloring books, boxes and boxes of crayons, and marker scribbles on what was once a very beautiful coffee table), the happiness of my marriage, and my health. That's it. The other stuff matters, but not nearly as much. And once you choose, get that handful of really important things right and know the rest will fall into place. It will, it always does. No one has ever died because they pulled their clean shirt out of a basket instead of a drawer. Who needs a coffe table when you can have a Coloring Center (the official name of the coffee table). Pottery barn is too expensive anyway. See, it all works out. In fact, I'm pretty sure my wall art is as close to perfect as it gets.