Anyway, all the aside, I could never quite comprehend just why these women complained so much, I was told time and time again that I was lucky that I had such freedom (luck has nothing to do with it – it’s a personal choice to have children or not, and I chose ‘not!’) I was also told that motherhood is by far the most difficult thing that any women would do, and that I had no comprehension on the difficulties of juggling motherhood, keeping house and working.
To the woman I was 2 years ago, these comments sounded patronising and way off the mark. I was 25, single, working full time hours in my chosen career, and also working two extra jobs (in a pub at weekends and data inputting on the evenings) just to keep my own head above water – and still I was struggling. Being told ‘I had no idea about real life’ from women who were only working part time hours, had husbands to help them (and bring in a second pay-packet), and who got to spend much more time at home than me was something I resented greatly. I wondered how they thought my essentials (housework, washing etc) got done as I sure as hell could not afford a cleaner and trust me when your struggling with day to day life with no support the last thing worth spending worrying about is the last time you watered your flower boxes (couldn’t afford somewhere with a garden!). But, the core base of their argument was that motherhood is a hard job, and one of which I could not comment on. And as I had never spent a whole day with a baby or young child on my own I kept my silence.
I had to do some stressful work-related traveling this week, but the upshot was that I got to meet some colleagues at my level, which was quite helpful. They confirmed some of the reasons I’d been hesitant to take a job like this: it’s lonely being the boss, you have to deal with a lot of politics, you’re always “on,” everyone wants something from you, etc.
I’d also been hesitant to relocate to an outlying area in order to move up; I predicted it might be an easier life, but I wasn’t sure what I’d do with myself away from the urban center.
Yet here I am. I wouldn’t want to go back to my former life in L.A. necessarily, and it’s probably a good thing I’m pushing myself careerwise. I also certainly appreciate the financial security (not enough to change my life in any major way, but enough to put fears about retirement to rest, if I can stick it out for a good amount of time). But, given that I think it’s wise to keep some emotional distance from the job and to find passions elsewhere, I don’t know what I’m about or what excites me anymore. I’m once again thinking that the only feasible answer to my predicament is to get involved in a relationship, but at the same time I’m resentful that seems to be the only answer and further annoyed that it’s so damn difficult to find one.
Some of my older colleagues this week spoke about their exotic travels with their spouses and couple friends. Couple friends? What a concept! I haven’t heard from my couple friends in ages. And I can’t seem to work up much excitement for travel anymore since I’d have to go alone.
In the middle of my work travels, my old friend posted a happy, smiling picture of herself at home with the two gorgeous children she gave birth to in her early forties.
I read recently that children in orphanages stop feeling pain because nobody comes to their aid when they get hurt. I’m feeling less and less myself these days.
I realized this morning as I was puttering around that I’ve been feeling out of sorts due to all the loss I’m experiencing (hormonal shifts don’t help either). Here are some of them:
1) The loss of the idea of my former city as “home.”
2) The loss of the type of friends (my former roommate had once been one) who call often to gossip and vent. I’ve had to realize some people just aren’t like that– they are happy to see me occasionally but feel no need for long, intimate conversations on a regular basis. Currently my friends fit in to that latter category, while my personality type craves more of the former.
3) The loss of my closest physical and emotional connection– I finally had to call things “quits” with the guy who was never able to commit. Hopefully we will stay in touch.
4) The loss of my former identity, that of the woman who lived surrounded by independent bookstores, art cinemas, small comedy venues, art galleries, and the like. The last couple of years I had pulled back on those activities, as I had aged out of some and had grown tired of going to events alone all the time, but having those things at best an hour away has left me wondering who I am without them.
I’ve decided to go easy on myself in this adjustment period. There may be lots of time wasted on the weekends watching TV and surfing the net while I adjust.
As I mentioned before, my kundalini yoga practice has kept me centered and has muted a lot of my anxiety and negativity. It’s like a firewall, protecting me from negative thoughts.
But these last few days I admit I have been beneath a cloud. I’m listening to Lifesaving Lessons by Linda Greenlaw, and it’s heartening to hear such an adventurous, gutsy broad admit to some sadness about entering her forties unmarried and childless, to despair about her romantic relationship hitting a wall, and to fear that her true friendships come down to only one or two people. I also related to her confusion over both her desire for solitude and her need for company.
The weather has been delightful here and the beach is beautiful, but I can’t stop my psyche from signaling that something is amiss. That having only a couple of connections, connections that are thirty minutes to an hour drive away, is insufficient. That having very few people to converse with, and none on a regular basis, is unsafe.
There’s no way I can immediately remedy any of these problems, so I hope the firewall can keep me from feeling overly negative about them in the meantime.
Describe the ‘perfect life’ that is expected of every woman.
“This is a weird time in women’s history. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pleased as punch that I was born when I was. I’ve got more choices and opportunities than any generation of women before me, but our roles have never been more complicated by deeply ingrained mixed messages from both previous and present generations.
“The term ‘perfect’ is no longer used to describe what we’re all striving to be. Now it is called ‘fulfilled.’ But for women, the path to fulfillment is not through one thing, it’s all things—education, career, home, family, accomplishment, enlightenment. If any one of those things is left out, it’s often perceived that there’s something wrong with your life. We are somehow never enough just as we are. We are constantly set up by our expectations to feel as though we are missing something.
“In my case, it seems I was missing the family component, and was suspect for that gap in my resumé as a successful woman. I thought it was high time to call this nonsense out publicly, because this notion is not just about me, nor only about women in regards to marriage. It’s about anyone whose life doesn’t look the way it ‘should.’ I’m simply trying to get people to open up their minds and quit clinging to antiquated notions of what a successful life looks like. I want people to lighten up on each other and themselves, and embrace their lives for who it has made them, with or without the Mrs., PhD. or Esq. attached.”