Monday, January 14, 2013

The Importance of "Or"

I have always had a hard time picking ONE thing and sticking with it. I like options. Not sure what my career path would be? No problem. I'll double major. That way I can be a lobbyist, or an editor, or a journalist, or a public relations professional (or an area manager for a highway construction company--but we digress)--the point is, I had options. I didn't have to choose, and I could do what I wanted when the time was right.

I think that buying into the "more is more" culture that we live in daily is easy to do. However, sometimes more is just more. More work, more sleep deprivation, more stress, more crunch. It means less time, less sleep, less enjoyment. I knew that I was leery of working full-time with a baby in tow, but it was for the superficial reasons: How did it look to everyone else? Was the baby crying in the background? What if my office is filled with non-work related items? How would people take me seriously with a screaming infant in the backseat of my car? It never really crossed my mind that I was leery of it because I couldn't do it, or even because it would be hard.

But it is hard. Really hard. There have been several articles that I've read lately about women "having it all." They all follow the same vein: Can we have it all? Is it possible? Were we lied to as children? Is it really not possible? Honestly, I don't care if we can or can't. The questions are, do we want it? Is having both a full-time career and full-time family really better? In almost every aspect of my life, "BOTH! Don't make me choose!" has seemed like the best answer possible. But is it really best now?

For many of us, the conjunction that ties our lives together is "and". I want this AND this. I'll do this AND this. But the word we need to choose is "or".  "Or" is really hard to come by. "Or" is hard to say.  "Or" means that we have to choose. That we have to let something go. "Or" almost feels like admitting defeat--like I wasn't good enough to do it all.

Academically, I know that "or" is healthy. I know that choices must be made, and that both of the proverbial paths cannot be taken. But "or" also takes a lot of thought, a lot of effort, a lot of sacrifice.

This isn't an entry that is going to end with a huge revelation. I have no idea when or where I will cut back on my "and's" and add to my "or's". I really don't know what to choose or how to choose. I'm not sure the best criteria to use. But I do know that something's got to give. There is a reason that people are stay-at-home moms or full-time working moms. There is a reason that there are daycare centers and nannies. There's a reason that 40- and 50-something-year-old women are less qualified for high-level jobs in government--many of them took time off to raise their families. For the most part, their male colleagues didn't do the same thing. Voila! There's a difference in qualifications--and a chasm between the genders.

The problem is that I don't want to miss out. I don't want to miss out on any of Jack's firsts. I also don't want to miss out on any of Maymead's firsts! I also feel responsible for providing for my family. But I also feel responsible for Jack being a well-rounded, healthy, adjusted child--whose mama isn't exhausted after full work days. BUT he won't be any of these things if I keep running around like a crazy woman--trying to do all of my AND's with him perched on my hip.

It is time for some Or's. And I suppose this post is to be continued...