It is hard to believe that we are nearing our son Michael's first birthday. That's the thought of the second sprinting through my head while we are in a speed and stop tug-of-war with Boston rush hour traffic. We are driving into the city from little ole' Dracut with excitement for our first annual Down syndrome clinic appointment with the glow of red brake lights shining through the frigid darkness at 5:30 a.m.. I find my moment to reflect, relax and ride. Seldom do I get to relinquish control and sit in my own head, my mind happily spinning around and around. I'm jolted from my thoughts, aimless glaring and erratic singing to 102.5 WKLB's morning set by my husband's slander of every driver in his path. Because I do not want to dance with negativity today, I simply toss a silent stare as if to say, Don't be messing with my ME time! It sparks a sunrise conversation of you making the day vs. the day making you.
Now engrossed in the heat of city traffic; dodging stop and go's, switching lanes and speaking with my hippie heart, country and city collide. Being a confident city driver, I begin my soulful speech while directing my husband through the tunnel, out of the tunnel and to our exit. "Just enjoy the ride, listen to the music and chill. Look, the sun is shining; we actually get to drive at a tolerable decibel level. How can you not be happy? I feel like I just won the lottery!" He begins his favorable debate of "Traffic is a nightmare," "Today is going to take forever," blah, blah, blah. I don't engage. I understand where he is coming from. He gets to drive every day by himself, talk on the phone, eat and be in uninterrupted thought while I have to share all of my bathroom experiences with my children in tow. I try to run and hide, but I am hunted down like a decorated egg at Easter. Life is so different for mothers and fathers; not all, but most.
As mothers, our options are to juggle everything or succumb to being "Mom/Wife," locking ourselves in the mom closet for 18 years until we have the time, stamina and endurance to do 'All the Things.' The problem is by the time we find the key to unlock our door, we forget who we are. I am defying the unspoken oath of a woman who is Mom/Wife that has been handed down through generations by finally believing and screaming it is OK to want 'All the Things,' to do it all, to juggle. It is OK to want to be more than a mom and a wife.
Personally, I struggled with this mom vs. me wrestling match in the beginning stages of motherhood/wifedom. I am finally finding a balance and still have days when balls are dropping or when I just throw them up in the air on my accord. This too is OK! I've let go of the personal pressure. I try, I do, I fail, I succeed, I laugh, I cry and I am not giving up on me!
I believe women have the power to change the world. We are compassionate and caring by nature. We are patient and nurturing. It is in embedded in our DNA. I feel the power that we possess is a secret that men have been holding tightly to their chests; protecting with every ounce of ego in their beautiful selves. (I can already feel the sting of potential comments from men defending their honor. Ouchy WaWa!) John Gray wouldn't be a bazillionaire writing Men are from Mars, Woman are from Venus books if people didn't agree that men see the world in black and white and women are infamously living in the gray. I say "Gray is the Way, Baby!" and I am not talking Christian Grey (although it is a viable statement). There is no black/white, no right/wrong. Men cannot fathom this for everything can be fixed. They are our heroes, knights and protectors. Lucky for me, I have awesome men in my life; family and friends that support me flexing my wings.
We are women raising children to believe that anything is possible, to dream big and to go for it, as they watch us kiss their fathers good-bye to go chase their own goals. What about us? What about you? Why is it expected for us to make the sacrifice of self? In doing so, what are we subconsciously teaching our sons and daughters? We are lying down.
Let's pledge to lock mom guilt in the closet, to raise sons that become supportive husbands and daughters that gracefully juggle while standing on a see-saw. (It has never dawned on me until now why a see-saw is called a see-saw... Is it because when you are up you can see everything and when you go down you are now in the past tense? I see, I saw.... Random, I know.)
I am just a thought inspired by Sheryl Sandberg and by a gift from my mom that has been sitting on my desk for seven years -- a copy of The 100 Most important Women of the 20th Century -- and all the moms fighting the fight of self-preservation. I am not an advocate of moms/wife's working 40+ hours leaving raising children to the nanny or daycare provider. Nor do I believe that women should throw in the towel and lock themselves away for another day. There has to be a delicate balance. We are sophisticated and smart. We have strong shoulders and soft souls. We would rather walk forward holding hands than pushing, pulling, and persuading. We magically kiss boo-boos away, deal in dirty laundry and sweep messes under the rug. We are mothers and wives. We are... (I silently said Marshall!) There is nothing like a fabulous football movie!)
Thank You, Tara Bedard, for 'All the Things,' to Stacey Alcorn the master juggler; to my mother, Beth, for the book, to Frankie for the song and to my dad, Bill, for always singing it
Frank Sinatra - "My Way"
Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall and did it my way
For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows and did it my way!
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