Why is is that no matter what we do,
we always feel like we are coming up short and failing
Why do we put so much pressure and demands on ourselves?
In a conversation with a fellow co-worker the other day, we discussed how we felt torn between our careers and our families. Both of us have invested a lot of time into our education. Both of us felt that while we weren't excelling in our careers, we also weren't succeeding as mothers.
I sometimes even feel like I'm failing at both.
She told me a story of a friend of hers, a successful laywer,
who took an entire year off when her son was born.
I thought "whoa".
In our minds, however, to do something like that would "kill" our careers. So, in the meantime, we gush over our babies when we are with them, provide the best care we can while we are working, and beat ourselves up for it every day!
As I mentioned before, I was able to participate in a round table discussion about breastfeeding and coming back to work. I truly identified with some of the other women there. "Jackie" was committed to breastfeeding her daughter for one year and then she was "off duty"! "Sarah", a fellow student, was so relieved to hear about our school's president making policy that supported staff and student rights to breastfeed. I was truly touched by two of the other women there.
"Cindy" was 11 weeks along with her second child. With her first, she had been able to take that mystical year off. Now with her second, she was working full time as a dental assistant and going to school for nursing. You go Momma! But that ambition was coming at a price. She spends 12 hours a day away from home. Yet, she wants to give her new baby the best she can, while providing a better life for her first. Cindy was going to have to make a lot of sacrifices to make this happen.
"Nadia" has a one year old daughter at home and is starting to think about "number 2". However, she was concerned about nursing, with all the issues she had with her first. Having a c-section and then an inverted nipple, her daughter had become a lazy nurser, then her supply dropped, and Nadia made the heartbreaking decision to give up nursing after about a month of exhaustive efforts. As she tells her story, Nadia says things like "I messed this up", "I did this wrong", "It's my fault". Watching her tell her story, my heart was breaking for her. Now, in law school, Nadia has class all day and is trying to figure out how she'll manage maternity leave if she can't be in class and some of the lectures aren't recorded, never mind how she'll juggle the demands of studying, nursing and getting in some sleep as well.
I'll be the first one to admit that before being a mother, I had absolutely no understanding of the demands that is placed on those shoulders. Now, as I look at the moms around me, I see them wearing their Mommy Guilt like blanket, weighing them down, suffocating them.
"You're doing a great job!!!!"
I want to tell each and every one of them!
But can I say that to myself?
Yes, I can.
When I look at this smile.
Even if they can't say the words yet,
they love you,
they adore you,
and they think you are amazing.
(just like I do!)