When I became a mother, I felt this annoyance with all those women before me who fought so hard for women’s rights. And by “women’s rights,” I mean this notion that women can “do it all.” I mean of course we CAN do it all. In my opinion, we are more equipped than men to “do it all.” We are biologically hardwired to multitask because motherhood is, essentially, multitasking.
But, as a mom, I quickly realized that the implication is not simply that we CAN do it all, but that we MUST. And “all” now encompasses taking care of the household and working a good job and sustaining wonderful friends and being a good sister/daughter/whatever. I don’t think the feminists intended to make us all stressed out. They wanted us to have equal rights. They wanted things to be fair. They wanted to be inspiring. Unfortunately, I think many of us have taken their “you can do anything” mantra and turned it into a “you should do everything” mandate.
When I had my boys, I hated the fact that I had to leave home and return to work. It felt very unnatural to leave my child. Everyone says to follow your instinct as a new mom and my new mom instinct was barking like a little annoying yippie chihuahua for me to stay home.
What I do for work has changed some over the last few years and when someone asks me what I do, I kinda stumble over the answer. Consistently, I say, I’m a registered nurse. Passionately, I say, I’m a photographer. And, because I wanted to, I opened an Etsy shop. Sometimes I wonder if doing all three inhibits me from doing any one with any sort of excellence. I never give it much thought though because all three make me happy and I have come to the conclusion, over much time spent mulling it all over, that all three work symbiotically. I have, however, witnessed the struggles of those around me; moms who feel less adequate because they’ve chosen to leave their careers to mother children, moms who never had the opportunity to pursue a career because they stayed home with kids from the beginning, and moms who do a little of both but don’t feel like winners at either one.
Point being, I think we all question what we do and if we’re doing it right. I think women are notoriously hard on themselves and tend to compare themselves to one another and set unrealistic expectations; expectations that can lead to us feeling really crummy about ourselves.
I came across this article on The Huffington Post that kind of touches on women who seem to give more energy to what they’re not doing instead of to what they are. I suppose it’s the whole glass half-full versus glass half-empty phenomena. Or the notion of wanting what you have as opposed to having what you want. In general, I think we’re all more inclined to self-scrutiny and I think Elizabeth Gilbert’s article is a great reminder to lighten up a little. In today’s day n’ age, it feels like we’re doing more than ever – in all facets of life (home, work, motherhood, etc), and yet we’re seemingly more self-critical. It’s backwards.
The last bit of the article has a ‘screw it’ like mantra and has really stuck with me:
“Move to the wrong city. Lose your temper in front of the boss, quit training for that marathon, wolf down a truckload of cupcakes the day after you start your diet. Blow it all catastrophically, in fact, and then start over with good cheer. This is what we all must learn to do, for this is how maps get charted — by taking wrong turns that lead to surprising passageways that open into spectacularly unexpected new worlds. So just march on. Future generations will thank you — trust me — for showing the way, for beating brave new footpaths out of wonky old mistakes. Fall flat on your face if you must, but please, for the sake of us all, do not stop. Map your own life.”
The reality is that there is no right or wrong. Sometimes I think I need to stop analyzing what I’m doing with my life and – so long as it’s working for me – keep on keepin’ on. What I’m doing right now is fulfilling. There is always more out there, always. But, to me, the point of life isn’t to cram it full of accomplishments; it’s to find accomplishment in the simplicities of the everyday.