We went to Phoenix over the weekend so that I could attend a conference, for research for my second book. I’m still trying to figure out how to juggle my career with motherhood. I think it’s the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. Everything else I’ve been through in my life up until now seems incredibly easy in comparison. Even remembering what it was like when I was in grad school and working two jobs — that seems easier than trying to mother two small children while also trying to bring two books into the world.
This past weekend was the perfect example of the constant state of juggling I find myself in. Even though I was going to be spending most of Saturday and Sunday in a board room listening to presentations on the reality of the afterlife, Greg and the girls both came with me. I’ll tell you right now that there is no way I’d be doing any of this were it not for my incredible husband. For so much of this past year he has stepped up so that I could follow my path. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched him disappear into the corner of a bookstore with Vera so that I could give a reading to a group of people, or how many times I’ve watched him walk off to the park, pushing a stroller and carrying a diaper bag, so that I could sit on a panel and talk about books. And then this weekend there he was poolside with both girls while I popped in and out of sessions to nurse Jules or give Vera a snuggle.
I think that because we do this stuff so often our friends think it’s easy for us. It’s definitely not. Greg and I both just kind of do whatever it takes. Picture me in my conference sessions, sitting in the very back row, closest to the door with a sleeping Jules in the baby carrier on my chest while I’m trying to take notes. Or me in the backseat of the car for two hours, wedged tightly between the two car seats, just so I can keep the babes happy for the six hour drive. I mean, it gets ridiculous. I’m not even going to get started on Australia and nursing Juliette while feeding kangaroos.
I guess my point is that I’m trying really hard to do both of these things, and they are both incredibly important to me. If I had to sacrifice one for the other, I would easily drop my career, but for now I’m going to keep forging ahead like this, trying to make it all work. It constantly baffles me that all of this had to happen at once — motherhood and the taking off of my career, but this is the way it is. I hope that they can appreciate it one day, and that everything I am doing will serve to provide for them in many ways, not just financially, but in a way that makes them feel confident enough to pursue all the things that dream of doing in their own lives.
I had this interesting conversation recently with a mom friend about how feminism has affected present day motherhood. Her argument was that the feminist movement was actually detrimental to women in that now we are expected to be able to do everything — juggle careers while simultaneously being perfect attachment parents. My friend also remarked that she wished it wasn’t so culturally normal to have kids so much later into life now, that having kids in your twenties and THEN diving into your career in your thirties makes more sense.
I thought her points were really interesting and found myself trying to imagine what it would have been like if I had spent my twenties as a mother. In some ways it sounds kind of ideal — I would have been younger and healthier with more energy, and the experience would have likely matured me in remarkable ways, not to mention how I wouldn’t wasted all that time gallivanting about and pondering my existence. But on the same token, I doubt I would have had the maturity to handle marriage or co-parenting.
I guess what I’m coming to is that here I am, trying to do everything. I’m trying to be a great mom and a successful writer, not to mention a responsive wife and good friend (and, on the low end of the spectrum, a decent cat owner), and that so far it’s hard, really hard, but not impossible.
Even if you’re not a mom , do you have any tips for how you balance everything in your life?