As women we are no strangers to the idea of “having it all.” As far back as I can remember, the notion was embedded into my head. You are taught from a very young age that if you aren’t looking to “have it all,” then you aren’t reaching high enough. Especially for us Type As. It is the female goal. Having it ALL. Great career, loving spouse, and of course, a baby or two ( or in some cases three or more…God Bless Ya!). Our society bills this as the ideal. As the way to happiness. Career Mommy who is fulfilled as a mother and a professional. Well …I say it’s all bananas.
The truth, at least the way I see it, is that you most certainly can have it all…just not all at the same time. You can totally be a stay-at-home mom and focus on raising your children, but then your career suffers. Or you can choose to focus on your career and have your child cared for by someone other than you. Either way, something has to give. Now of course, there are women who HAVE to work and are forced to have their children in daycare…but that isn’t an argument for “having it all.” Ask them if they are truly happy with the situation. ?? That’s called “making it work” as sooo many women do these days. But it’s not “having it all.”
“Having it ALL” includes being happy. As Mark Manson writes in his article The Hidden Cost of Happiness, “everything has a cost, even if that cost is not immediately apparent. To achieve anything you must give up something else.” In our happiness obsessed culture, we seem to strive for the opposite. But as he says, “Ironically, it’s the unwillingness to sacrifice anything, to give up anything, that makes us more miserable.” I agree. (I highly suggest reading his piece. Or all his stuff. He is kind of a self help guru for people who can’t stand self help. www.markmanson.net
So I have to personalize the theory. If I try to keep my career going, then I have to give up not just time with my son, but I would have to give up possibly, seeing his first steps, hearing his first words, among other milestones. For me to work, means time away. Sure I could bring him with me, but someone else would have to care for him during rehearsals and performance times….and then my husband loses out. He would miss stuff as well. How could I do that to him? So the loving husband is penalized for my need to feel relevant in my career. If I left O with my husband, he would be in daycare every week day. Again, someone else essentially raising my son. And I would miss everything. The mere thought of not seeing him everyday for even a small period of time is unthinkable right now. Maybe that will change? I don’t know. Either way, would keeping my career afloat bring me true happiness? Or just fleeting happiness? What is really required for true happiness?
Well, I’m glad you asked that. Mr. Manson says that first off “you must accept imperfection and flaws.” Now this is tough because we then have to accept that we have to live with things we don’t like. I don’t like 4am feedings. I don’t like getting spit up on. And I don’t like the inconsolable crying. But…I accept it as where we are right now in this journey of raising our child. Hell, Ladies, there are about a hundred other things I don’t like about this job, but there are a hundred and four that I now can’t live without.
Most importantly, Mr. Manson talks about finding a deeper purpose to your actions. This has to do with growth and contribution. Now THIS speaks to me as a mother. What could be more motivating than raising a child to become a decent, kind, thinking human being?? That is a true contribution to society. Hell, you could be raising the child who grows up to change life, as the world knows it, for the better! And as far as growth, well, that which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger…there’s your growth! But truly, I somehow understand through all my foibles with this task, that my love for O makes me a better person. It’s not about me. Mothering is a selfless act. And when you do for another, with no thought of gain for yourself, it makes you happy. It’s just the way it works.
So the question is…could I find that profound happiness whilst belting out a tune or tapping my troubles away?? Happy, yes. But profound happiness?…the stuff of angels? No, I don’t think so. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not so easy. Not so black and white. There are days when I long for the smell of the greasepaint and the roar of the crowd. Days where I wish I could audition, book a show..and PLAY!! But….then the reality for this Mommy sets in. I know there are friends of mine and readers, perhaps, who are thinking that I am giving up. They are right. I guess, I feel I must to get something else, i.e. the “motherhood experience.” You see, I have enjoyed a rather full amazing life so far. One so completely different from the one I struggle through today. But there is part of me that knows there is a higher purpose to this time and task, and it honestly gets me through days when I don’t really want to go to “work.” (Like it’s an option! lol) So for now…my career suffers. Maybe it will never recover…maybe I will recreate myself as an older more grounded actress…?? ( I’m thinking Meryl Streep meets Kristen Wiig) ? Who knows… Who cares? Right now, it doesn’t matter. Right now, I need to BE HERE..in this moment. In this very special role, that was chosen just for me. And the HAPPINESS, while mingled with tears and tough days, is rich and abundant, and unlike any I’ve know before.
Until next time, keep on keeping on….and remember, behind every great kid is a mom who is quite certain she’s messing it all up! 🙂 xo