I recently reached out to my Facebook friends (via awesome video up top) on what they’d like to hear from Mom’s Coffee is Cold.
I will be taking into account all of the suggestions, because they were all great, however, one stuck out that I can’t take my mind off of and wanted to tackle first.
It came from Kim, a smart, funny, and talented recent college graduate (and also a writer!). Her question was this:
“Everyone always tells me “you can’t have it all- a good career AND kids” and I want to find out if that’s really true because I think it isn’t true, especially because men get to have both. I’m a writer/actor and I’d like to hear about whether or not you think children make your writing better or leaves you with less time for writing and therefore compromises it.
Here is my experience with my career, my writing, and Ben. I’m assuming we’re talking about classic jobs that are out of the home and demanding of your time.
I worked a lot of jobs before becoming pregnant. Some were classic, full time shifts, and some were freelancing and adjunct positions that just about made up the hours of a full time shift (if not more). Most recently, I worked a full time job until I was nine months pregnant, then high-tailed it home to waddle around uncomfortably until Ben showed up. And yes, I left that job for two months before returning back to it part-time.
Before I left I thought a lot about how much my life was going to change. I thought about leaving the work world, where time and money and speed were the main values behind every day. I thought about my co-workers forgetting about me, my students moving on to new tutors and liking them better. I thought about the decrease in money brought into my household and how that would affect our lifestyle (not that we live in a palace with sheets of gold for walls…but still). I knew this was a game changer for us, and I was ready for it (the change, I had no freaking clue how to take care of a baby).
I want to answer this question as honestly as possible, so here is what I think it comes down to:
What is your “all”?
I believe a mother can have all that she wants. I don’t believe she can have it all at one time. So, the short answer, in a way, yes.
I understand that this is really unpopular to say and I have been slammed for being anti-feminist on more than one occasion (which I will address; another post for another time).
So, this comes down to what you want most and what you’re okay with compromising, and also at certain points in your life.
If what you want is to have an out-of-the-home, creatively challenging, time demanding, crazy successful job, you can absolutely have it. If you want to spend your time making this the first priority, then that’s what will happen. And I don’t mean that in a snarky way. I think it’s fantastic to focus on careers, on creative projects, and building professions. I think the world needs to be more aware that women are doing this.
If you chose to have kids, and want to also see every milestone of their development, you may have a hard time doing that with a demanding career. This is not to say you can’t have children and also a successful career. You just can’t constantly be in two places at once is what I’m getting at. You can’t be at home seeing daily developments and also at the “office”, managing a career. Only one thing can have your absolute, full attention.
I believe there are ways around this, because not everything is in absolutes, but if we’re talking 9-5 or more jobs, then this is slightly less flexible for the mother who wants to be an all day part of her child’s life.
And here comes another unpopular view…
I actually don’t believe that men have it all. I think they have an easier time, socially, returning to work (which is unfair), but my husband doesn’t come home until very late sometimes and misses putting Ben to bed. He is not home all day to see every laugh or smile or new development and I know that bums him out. He is at work, completing the other part of our deal, here. The deal that we made as partners. It may change as Ben grows, or as I grow, but for now, this is what we both agreed to.
I think it may appear that he has it all because he is a man and men aren’t supposed to want to be at home all day with babies. I cannot speak for other men, though.
I think mothers who want both career and children can chose to have different things at different times. I understand fully that I am missing out on some vital career building time and that this time away from work may hinder my “worth” when I return (which is ridiculous, considering my growth as a person simply by becoming a mother). But my “all”, right now, is raising our son and being the main person at home. Also, working part time is pretty nice as a mom because you get to leave the house for a while and come back in time for Wheels on the bus and stuff.
Okay, before I write a book here, I want to talk about writing!
Honestly, I have never felt so creative in my life. I have so many ideas, and I have so many things to write about I can’t keep track.
I think Ben has a lot to do with it simply because he represents something entirely new in my life. I have never before experienced being a mother, or even having a baby around the house. I have changed in ways that weren’t expected and that’s cool to experience.
Time for writing can be tricky, yup. Ben is on his own schedule, not mine. I would love to get up in the morning, drink some coffee, put on some Lisa Loeb and get down to it before lunch.
But Ben likes to get up, get changed, have a snack, and he’s not quite into 90’s alt rock yet, unfortunately, but he does like Seinfeld, so there’s that.
My writing has turned toward motherhood, that’s for sure, but my entire life is not Ben, even though it’s fair to say it is the biggest part right now. I realize it may come off that way through this blog, but writing, about anything, has always been about me.