Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I don't Know How She Does it.

I've got a soft spot for Sarah Jessica Parker. I have always adored her, and my late-onset-obsession with Sex and the City (I'd never seen an episode until my mom bought me the series for my birthday in '07, when it had been off the air for about 3 years by then) only further solidified my love for her.
So when I saw the preview for her new movie, I was all for it.
Not to mention I thought it was a wonderful concept. A woman with a career, children, a husband... juggling it all in an quirky, light-hearted way.
That was until my best friend Starry informed me that the movie is actually based on a book, that she had read for a class in college.
She said I needed to read the book. Then she went one step further, because I mentioned needing to pick up an audio book for my 12 hour drive down to CA that weekend and low and behold, she actually had an audio book of it and gave it to me for my trek down south.
The actual book, by Allison Pearson, was just over 6 hours long in audio book form. It was an excellent accompaniment to a 12 hour car ride alone.
Although, as I mentioned before, 12 hours is a long time to be inside your own head.
The life of Kate Reddy starts off with her trying to juggle being a good mother and having a successful career, keeping up good appearances, having enough time to do it all and going to great lengths to get it all done and keep everything in line.
As I'm listening to this story, of  course I can relate. Now, I don't have children, or a husband (or an actual career for that matter!) So there are certainly elements of the story that don't exactly fit for me, but there are overarching themes; trying to juggle everything and feeling like you're failing at everything simultaneously.
For me, I'm juggling: School work, class load, practicum duties, seeing clients, supervision, conducting research, meetings, studying, reading, a long distance relationship, a close-knit family I'm far from and attempting to stay in touch and keep up to date with them, trying to have somewhat of a social life, work oh and sleep too. I like to get some time for that too.
I'm also a female, although my guy friends would beg to differ and still give me a hard time if I ever (which I seldom ever do with them) show up in a skirt. I was blessed with the nicknames Finkle and Einhorn the first time I tried that. That is not to say that males do not feel pressure. Not what I am saying at all.
I am talking about that inner voice, I'm not sure what it is exactly, that females have. That constant battle that is occurring inside a woman about being a good mother versus being good at her job. Society seems to be a firm believer we can't be both. I'm not even a parent yet and I already feel the tug-of-war inside me.
It's already begun because I am 27 and childless. When I was younger and heard about a woman's "biological clock" I just pictures a big pocket watch like the one the white rabbit carried around in Alice in Wonderland floating around inside a woman's body.
I never understood that there is literally a pressure so heavy you can almost hear it ticking inside. When my mother was my age she had already given birth to one child with a 2nd on the way and two step sons, my sister already had given birth to two with a step son and my best friend who is my exact same age already has a 2nd grader and 4 year old, not to mention my many, many cousins who have children. There are still a good number of us in the family that don't, and I know I can't filter that information out completely.

To get back on track here, I am a 27 year old graduate student, pursuing her Ph.D. Which means that I will graduate (if I'm lucky!) when I'm 31. I don't think I need to do the math on how many good-baby-producing years that leaves me with post graduation. So my choices are: wait to have children and be an "older mother" which, having older parents is something I am very aware of. My peers have parents who are in their 40's.. I have siblings in their 40's. Or, have children while in grad school and attempt to juggle practicum/classes/research/work/internship/exams/dissertation all with a baby on my hip.
People say "but you chose that path" and They're right, I did. I chose education and I chose the long road, and I took so long to figure that out, that I'm doing it later than a lot of people. I take full responsibility for that and stand behind that choice.
The part I'm having a hard time with is: No matter which decision or path I choose, I feel like I'm losing. I can put school/career on hold or on the back burner or say screw it all together and become a mother and likely resent my children and myself for losing out on one of my biggest passions, OR I can choose to put the family life on hold, pursue my career become successful and either not have kids, or have them much later where I will then resent my job and myself for giving my children less time with their mother (daily time as well as longevity since I'll be a much older mother).

All these thoughts have been in my mind for many years, I can usually brush them aside, quiet them with distractions, or focus on other things. When I'm stuck in a car, by myself, listening to the life of Kate Reddy, and listening to her failing at handling everything and *Spoil Alert* in the end GIVING UP HER JOB..for her children and her husband... it only makes me feel that much more overwhelmed and hopeless that a woman can, in fact, do it all.
Every story (fiction or otherwise) seems to point in the direction of women thinking they can do it all, but coming to the conclusion that being a mother triumphs all other efforts and if you want to be a good one, you've got to give in..and know your role.

Although, I can't lie...I'll probably still see the movie.

No comments:

Post a Comment