Women in the 21st century have an ocean of choices. It took a lot of strong women before us, and those still forging new trails today, which created such a magnitude of glorious choices. Now women can have it all. But I’m over here asking myself what does having it all look like? Do I have to have it all at one time or can I spread it out over the seasons of my life?
Lots of women are riding the “we can have it all train”.
As a stay at home mom by choice, I often struggle with how to have it all. I’ve been thinking about this for the past two years, which is exactly how long I’ve been a mom. I opted out of my career in communications and chose a super simple lifestyle of momming. It’s really only simple when I’m sleeping. My decision to have a gap in my professional experience is statistically derailing my future career growth, and is definitely impacting/rewinding my financial advancement. Thinking about the future of what might be for me in the world of creative meetings and getting paid to produce content is bleak. So I’ve made the choice to quite thinking about all that jazz.
It’s exhausting and distracting and a little (a lot) terrifying. I’m currently praying the job market shifts big time for embracing the talent and sheer tenacity of the educated mother who chose to leave her job to raise her children. After all, we are living in the 21st century and women have equal rights…in my dreams…and some-what in the real world too.
I believe in the brilliance and creative problem solving of leaders.
Business owners, CEOs, Human Resource Directors and CFOs around America can work to close the gap between telling women they can have it all and women actually having it all. This would mean equal pay for men and women. Plus equal pay for women with kids and women without kids. All based on a person’s actual qualifications. This would mean offering more flex schedules or even proposing parents are given the ability to work hours that align with their kids’ school schedule. We have a long way to go, but we will get there.
However, for this season of my life I want to raise my kid, and then in another season of life I’d like to go back into my career or a career. Therefore, I’m deciding to focus on now.
My-kind-of-all for now…
Now is when my son is learning his ABC’s because we’ve been signing them together. Now is when I get to hear his tiny voice, in the other room, imagining a cardboard box is a car. Now is when he wakes up in the morning clapping while dancing around his crib signing Frosty the Snow Man during the month of April. Now is when he sits on my lap during story time at the library. Now is the time when he looks at me and says, “Hi Mommy!” as I type this as he plays with water and play dough on the kitchen floor. Now is when my husband and I try to mask his vegetables in a home cooked meal for family dinners. Now is the time I get to take daily walks with my son and our dog whenever I want. Now is the time I know he fell in love with hiking because we have the time to go hiking. Now is the time I can stop whatever ridiculous house chore I’m doing and join him under a fort made of blankets in the living room. Now is the time I can build trust with him that will grow over the years. Now is when I want to remember his firsts and his lasts and his tries and his fails.
Eventually all these nows will be thens, and I’m soaking it all in.
These are the reasons I’m going to stop letting the perceived threat of my successful or unsuccessful future steal these moments now. However, in the gaps between the awesome moments and the mundane stuff of life I let my mind wonder…
Since I was a teenager, I remember feeling deep gratitude for the brave and tenacious women who changed the landscape for women in America. I value and appreciate the ability for women to get an education, wear pants or a skirt to their dream job that goes beyond nursing, teaching or secretarial work. Women can decide when to start a family and choose to take time off to raise their kid(s) or go back to work right away. As this person with these beliefs, I struggle with choosing to stay at home. I think maybe, somehow, I’m letting down my past victors and present mama-professionals. Maybe on the days when nothing is going on and I just changed a third poopy diaper between cleaning bathrooms and shifting laundry I look to the future and miss the past. That’s when, and only when, I feel stuck in the present.
I choose not to sit in that gap between then and what might be any longer.
It’s stealing my joy. Plus, it’s taking away another belief that I hold deeply: God will always make a way and He will always provide. When it’s time for me to go back into the professional world, there will be something there. And maybe, hopefully, for the progress of all women there will be something for all 10.4 million stay at home moms who were able to choose to stay at home. A choice provided to her by the brilliant and brave and intelligent women that came before her, and in my opinion would want every single one of those women hired or, for those who kept on working, promoted.
My now is filled with it’s own version of personnel issues, creative problem solving, budget management and reallocation. Work through being sick, exhausted and hungry, show up and love your heart out regardless of the situation…type of now. Now makes me a stronger woman and a better mother. That might look weird on a resume, but I’m not really writing a resume I’m writing a life story. Now…
*For more on the population and research of SAHM check out this article from Pew Research Center.
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