I don't look at my phone. Sometimes for days. Between the hustle of the kids and internet on my schedule from my lap top, I find myself not needing gadgetry on the go. Women with regular office hours or even regular lives probably think it's crazy, but with the nick to the ego being a stay-at-home-mom/part-time writer entails (truth: no one needs to talk to me because I'm not that important) there is a certain luxury in being able to unplug. I spend mornings at the beach or the gym, untethered, without repercussion. Usually. When I picked up my phone today and saw a day old text I was sad to get, a problem clicked with the Why Women Still Can't Have It All article that has the mommy wars aflame right now. My issue? Wanting it "all" in the first place overlooks what we do have in our lives.
The text I missed because I was busy wiping toddler faces and thinking about a writing deadline was that my friend Claire* broke up with her boyfriend. Another one. We'll turn 33 together this fall.
There's not a woman better suited to parenting that my friend Claire. That is, if she had kids. But she doesn't. She did everything the "right" way: finished college, established a career, got her own apartment and approaches relationships like the probationary period of a job. She even grew long, shiny blonde hair. She's beautiful, wickedly intelligent, playfully tolerates exactly zero bullshit and is one of the finest human beings I know.
When we were in our 20's, dating was easy. None of us made much money right out of college, but we were gifted with natural cuteness that mother nature only bestows on the under-25 crowd. (God, you should have seen how perky our boobs were in '04!) Claire was focused on her career and would never have done anything dumb like, say, quit her respectable job in the Loop to go sell cars across the street from her apartment or something risky like date her boss. Nope, those shenanigans were for me. Of the two of us, I was probably the one headed for disaster.
Somehow, by chance, things worked out for me. That random car dealership catapulted my opportunities and that ridiculously hot boss I wanted to make out with just to get it over with ended up being quite a fine human being himself. I married him. I quit the job. I had the babies. I live in a cozy home and blog about Botox. This. Is. The. Life.
But you know what? It's not fair. It's not fucking fair that a stunning, dedicated, hyper-intelligent woman who made thoughtful choices, who pursued sensible relationships somehow feels she might miss the bus on that conventional "dream" of the husband and kids and the white picket fence. Do you want to know why this latest relationship went downhill? Because he found out she makes more money than him and his ego couldn't take it.
Maybe part of the problem is that our society places too much pressure on everyone. Men have to be seven feet tall and make six figures or they feel like losers who aren't worthy of their high earning girlfriends. Men still have to be "providers" in a world of female bosses and ambitious lady cohorts. They have to hold doors and pay for dinner out of paychecks that pale in comparison to those of their dates. Meanwhile, women have to "have it all". Careers. Children. Tiny waists, luscious lashes, Pinterest-worthy homes, husbands, degrees, accolades. Oh, and if you do happen to be one of those rare species who knits together ambition, family and beauty? You better get used to critics because you'll be taken down a peg by anyone who can get a shot.
No, I guess we can't have it all. My friend Mary Tyler Mom doesn't want it all in the first place - a wise woman. As for me? I'm just grateful for what I do have. I'll never be a Fortune 500 exec, or POTUS or even the type of woman who needs to check her phone more than once a day but I'll take this little blog and my toddling, tow-headed alarm clocks. I don't have it all, I just have it some. And that's more than enough for me.
*Claire seems like a good pretend name, no? I thought about "Sloan" but decided it might be porny. Apologies to Sloans. Also porns.
Filed under: Preach