I have to tell you that lately I’ve been feeling conflicted. Torn in half. Pulled in two completely different directions.
I don’t know how else to describe it other than using a food related metaphor, so if you’re hungry, you might want to grab a snack, because this could trigger a craving.
Ready? Let’s go.
You know when you’re at a really fancy restaurant and you have your eye on two completely different entrees that you really, really want, so you sit there in a half panic hoping the server won’t come back because you’re not sure what to go with, but she eventually does because she’s great at her job and then you’re put on the spot to order, so you think to yourself, “to hell with it, I’m an adult, this is a special occasion, I’ll just order both!”, and then you do, and at first you’re really happy because this food is GOOD and then you start to get full and feel a little…uncomfortable, confused and sweaty?
I’ve been feeling kind of like that.
Some might call this a mid-life crisis, and to that I say, “go to hell, I’m only 34”. Others might say it has something to do with astrology, or the new moon, or the zodiac or whatever, and if that’s the case, well, let’s just say reading my horoscope in Cosmo never prepared me for this feeling and I feel a bit cheated.
To any parent reading this, you won’t be surprised when I say that the area I’m feeling the internal tug-of-war the most is around my “title”. Who am I, really? Well, let’s break it down. First and foremost, I’m a wife and mom. That’s pretty simple. Then, let’s go one layer deeper. I’m a wife of a working husband and I’m a working mom of two. Sometimes I wear that title, “working mom”, with pride. Sometimes, for only reasons that I can blame on society, I even wear it with a touch of cockiness. But other times, and lately, a lot of the times, I wear it with a feeling of extreme and overwhelming guilt. And THAT, my friends, is where the tug-of-war begins.
Growing up, in movies and on tv, and even in our own personal experiences, we (as in ALL of us) were introduced to two separate female characters. The first is Mom™. Mom is happy, positive, cheerful and always busy. She’s taking care of the kids, her husband, the home and dang it, she even spoils the dog! She’s always put together, even while wiping down countertops with a baby on her hip. And boy, when mom makes a joke, us in the audience give her a soft chuckle. We love mom. Some of us even want to be Mom someday.
Then there’s THE BUSINESS WOMAN™. The business woman is a badass who is respected by everyone she works with. She doesn’t take shit from anyone and makes things happen by delegating to her team and is the most organized person you’ve ever seen. She is perfectly manicured and smart, decisive and direct. THE BUSINESS WOMAN is someone many aspire to be, but few achieve. When THE BUSINESS WOMAN talks, everyone listens. All of us secretly want to be The Business Woman someday. She’s a real one.
Two very different characters whose narratives never, ever cross. That’s what we’re used to seeing, right?
Then one day, Millennial Mom comes on scene. Millennial Mom is a bit of a hybrid model. Half Mom, half THE BUSINESS WOMAN and most days, she’s not sure which way is up. Her programming tells her she has to be the best mom ever, while also excelling at her job and impressing every single person around her, whether she’s at home or in the boardroom. Millennial Mom can be compared to one of those hypoallergenic dogs, let’s say, a Golden Doodle. Some days she feels the urge to nurture and play like a loyal Golden Retriever and other days she just wants to look pretty and impress everyone with her intelligence, like a prize winning Poodle. And some days, having to choose which one to be makes her feel like just a downright bitch.
If I haven’t introduced myself yet, hi, I’m Millennial Mom. I’m conflicted about pretty much everything. Like a lot of women my age, I chose both entrees at the restaurant, and like I mentioned above, I’m a “working mom”. First of all, what a bullshit title. I cringe at myself any time I’ve used that with any sort of arrogance in my voice. And believe me, I have. To make myself feel better in times of extreme doubt and internal conflict, I’ve leaned into that title and worn it as some sort of armor in an attempt to temporarily elevate myself. If I ever said it to you, I’m truly sorry.
I am fully aware all moms are working moms and any title that entertains the idea of comparing parents who work inside the home vs outside the home can kindly see their way out. That being said, as a parent who works outside the home, I like to play a fun game with myself daily about whether I’m doing the right thing. Deep down, I know I am. By working, I’m helping to provide for my family, I’m letting my children experience daycare/preschool where they’re learning, growing and building social skills, and I’m in a job that allows me to truly do what I love with people I adore. But that doesn’t stop the doubt. Maybe my kids want to see me for more than an hour in the morning and a couple of hours at night. Maybe I should be teaching them the important skills they’ll take with them later in life, so they remember their mom as more than just the lady who gives good hugs, but sits on her computer a lot at night to catch up on work. Maybe?
But maybe it’s time I drop the idea of having to pick one or the other, or even the idea of trying to be the best at both at the same time. As someone who wants to be the best at things and has a lot of my value wrapped up in my production, this is hard – but maybe it’s time to give myself some grace. Maybe I should slow down. Maybe we all should? Maybe it’s time I just lean into the version of myself I know the people around me need. The version who does my best in all areas of my life when I’m able to, and the version who won’t end up in any history books for being the best at either (even though I have the perfect picture in mind, just in case) but will be remembered as someone who worked hard and did her best to take care of her family, her friends and her team. Maybe we can make a deal with ourselves and each other that we’ll work on this. Maybe the characters we were introduced to as kids and whose narratives we were continued to be fed as we grew up will morph into someone a little more relatable and realistic. Maybe the doubt will still creep in, and maybe eventually it’ll slow down. Maybe it will, and maybe it won’t. All I know is, my arms are tired from playing tug-of-war, and ever since I mentioned that fancy restaurant earlier, I’m feeling pretty hungry, so I need to go take care of that.
Good luck, I think maybe we can do this.
Til next time.