I find it funny that I started watching Workin' Moms on Netflix yesterday. I knew I would relate, how can you not? If you're a woman in this world, you get it. Kids or not, you get it. This morning, just like every morning, my son said to me while we sat at the breakfast table "I wish I could just go to bed like you can" because he didn't want to wake up and go to school and seems to think that's what I do with my day after dropping him off at the bus stop. Oh, my sweet six year old boy... All the things you don't understand yet (mommy actually sits in front of the computer drinking too much coffee). What he doesn't know is that for my entire life I've wished for a career of my own. I've yearned to make my own money and impact on the world. I've always felt this was meant to be my identity. True, I chose to have children, neither of them were an Oops baby, but in making that decision I also had to make some sacrifices in my life. Sure, I could still go pursue a career, and I definitely tried. I even went back to school to get my Cosmetology license, but it is hard to know what to do for your family. It's so hard to know the right balance and sacrifice to make.
Have children, but hire a nanny or daycare so I can still be a career woman? Have children, but stay home and watch my dreams vanish? At least until they're old enough to be in all day school? Try the part time gig, and never see my husband when he comes home from his career? Struggle in your marriage to decide who has more earning potential? One of you will inevitably feel like shit afterward and for a very long time... who gets to be that person?
And any other scenario I'm not thinking of at the moment.
Being a woman in this era is really interesting, and hard. Feminists are working their asses off for equal rights for women, and we seem to be in this weird transition. We must have it all, or give something up. Sometimes that something is the children you may or may not have always wanted. Sometimes by having it all, you are giving up your sanity. There is no balance yet.
I grew up in a home full of women. I was raised by three of them. They were my parents. The only man in the house was my big brother. He definitely gets credit for taking care of me, what with our age difference and all that he sheltered me from, but my example in life was these three women and the struggles and expectations they each faced. Therefore I grew up believing that my best and maybe only option to strive for in life was to get a good education, and have a career. Wife and mother was a foreign concept to me. Sure, this is a good belief to have. It's good to have hopes and dreams, and to strive for something. I am obviously still working on that. It is still very core to who I am to hope to have a semi-successful career, or thing that I do, someday and be able to say "yeah, I'm Alyse, and I'm a ..." ... what am I?
During our vacation in Hawaii, on our last day, Shawn and I attended a fun mixology class. Actually it was really fun, we were spoiled with delicious drinks and food. We sat at a table with another couple, a generation above us, their kids were grown, and Shawn asked "What do you do?" to which only the husband answered. The wife turned it around and asked us back, looking me straight in the eye, and I decided to clam up and stare at Shawn, because what I do holds no monetary gain for our family. What I do is be a mom, and be a mom doesn't bring home the bacon (sorry, PETA, but I like bacon).
Why did I react that way? Because I am a millennial woman struggling like many other millennial women to identify what it really means to be me in a world where I have to be a Mom, and suppress all that I grew up believing about myself in that I need to have a career to hold any value in this world.
It might seem crazy. I am still told, to this day even in my thirties: "you can be whatever you want to be..." but no, it's just not that easy! It just isn't! And sometimes I get angry and I want to yell, like I did this morning that I've given up on all of my dreams because none of them to this point in my life have worked well for my family, and my family has to come first.
So call me crazy, but being a woman is hard right now. I'm supposed to be beautiful, fit and active. I'm supposed to be a happy wife and mom. I'm supposed to help bring home that bacon so we can all survive, and our medical bills are piling up again... and I feel guilt again because I don't even so much as have a part time job. I can't hold down a part time job because half the time I have no idea if my son will get sick, and he needs one of his parents because when he gets sick it's so much worse then a normal child. He's been in the ER three times in the last month. How do I hold down a job when I have no idea how often he'll need me or how severe it will become? And I don't have family around to rely on for help, I actually forget that this is a thing for people. Even when we lived near family we didn't have that kind of help. **not their fault, I'll wrap up on this point in a second.**
"Tell us how you really feel, Alyse... "
Personally I'm very lucky that my husband and I are a team. I do feel that our life works for us, but despite how well it works, I still feel what I feel. I've still given up something I dreamed about for years, and now, again, I'm struggling to become a thing - a writer - but it has yet to pay off, and if it doesn't pay off... square one. Again. In my mid-thirties. Sounds fun. #facepalm #headtodesk #idontknowwhatimdoinganymore
So the three women in my life all died. What a great example, ladies! #whatthehell?!
And now that we live in Portland, well, we don't know anyone out here yet. When we lived in Utah, all the ladies I know ... guess what... they WORK. So who do you lean on for help in these situations?! I don't actually know.
My point and conclusion: Women need a community of other women so we can figure this crap out and not feel so alone in it all. I appreciate all the women who came before me so that I can be inspired to become one of these women who gives support, not just to other women, but to my community and world in a time where pretty much nothing about humanity makes sense anymore.
Man, woman, child, transgender... doesn't matter who you are or where you come from, this world is hard to make sense of.
I hope to use this month, Women's History Month, to reflect. Feel free to chime in at any point. Comment, share, laugh, cry... etc.
As always, thank you for reading.