If you’re anything like me, your personal and professional schedules are jam-packed, often morphing into one another, leaving little time for a manicure let alone a hobby as simple as reading or baking. I’ll readily admit it: I’m a workaholic 30-something who is committed to her professional aspirations as well as her familial obligations, and a young woman who, quite frankly, can’t imagine attempting to fit a newborn into the equation!
Sure, I have all of the boxes checked: long-term boyfriend, stable income, health insurance, reasonably large residence, reliable friend and extended family networks, motherly instinct, love of children and of course, birthing hips! If someone would have told me in college that I’d be working 60-plus-hour weeks sans husband and 2.5 children at home, I would’ve assured you I had the job, man, kids and white picket fence all lined up! However, life, as they say, is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.
Yes, I definitely want children and I’m confident I’ll be the best mother I can be, attempting to avoid the pitfalls of those before me; however, if one more person asks me when I’m getting married and having kids you just might find yourself bitch slapped!
Ladies: How many times in your adult life have you been asked why you don’t have a boyfriend/girlfriend? Or how about when you’re in a committed relationship and your elders want to know when you’ll be getting married to him/her? And then, when you’re married, they ask about the health of your ovaries and when you’ll be having children? And if that wasn’t enough, when you have your first wee one sleeping in his/her crib and they’re already inquiring about the birth of your second child? And so, on, and so on, and so on…
You know what I’d like to shout from the rooftops? When and with whom I have children is none of your [expletive] business! Furthermore, why not be happy for me that I have a great career, strong work ethic and drive to succeed, rather than pitying me because I don’t have a wedding band on my finger and little ones at home? How about we celebrate the fact that women today have personal and professional strength like never before; we’re not forced to be stay-at-home-moms but rather have the choice of whether or not to become a domestic engineer?
Please don’t misunderstand, I fully support the lives of stay-at-home moms, the career women and everything in between, but what I don’t support is how some of those with whom I interact – and no, I don’t mean my parents (Mom, I know you’ll be reading this) – believe that I can’t be happy unless I perpetuate the bloodline. Why can’t I be both: a career woman and a mom? And why, oh why can’t I choose to become a mother in my own time without people constantly insisting that my ovaries are underutilized?
I recently spent an extended period of time with some friends and their young children – who rightfully treated me like their own personal jungle gym and I was happy to oblige – and we, for the very first time, had an honest conversation about what it was like to be a new parent. This is a conversation that I’ll never forget because one friend laid it all out in no uncertain terms: “Child-rearing is the most challenging endeavor of your life, especially if you’re a career woman who is used to standard work and tangible dividends. When you have a baby, you’ll spend 90 percent of the day bouncing on a yoga ball to keep him (or her) from screaming his head off and the remaining 10 percent enjoying his cute and cuddly moments. That 10 percent though, it’s what you happily live for because your love for your child is beyond measure!” Yes, it’s true, I wrote down what she said because I want to remember that I’m not the first nor will I be the last woman to be sleep deprived, bouncing on a yoga ball with my screaming baby in my arms at two in the morning.
For now, however, I’ll take being woken up by my two dogs at 3:30 a.m. because they need to go outside to pee, and save the infants and yoga ball for some time in the future. I’m making this decision not because I can’t have children but because I’m not ready quite yet and I’m perfectly OK with that, even if others are not.
I encourage my fellow career women to also make up their own minds about when it’s appropriate for them to have children. I strongly believe that in order to be a great mother it doesn’t matter how old or young, straight or gay, married or unwed, rich or poor, career-oriented or domestically-inclined you are as long as you endeavor to be the best mother you can be each and every day. As long as we’ve happily and freely made the decision to become parents and not bowed to societal pressures to enter into motherhood, we’ll never regret having to bounce on a yoga ball at 2 a.m. to help our children rest easy.