Thanks to an extra dose of coffee and motivation, I decided to
tackle my bedroom closet the other day. Not being a remarkably
organized person, I have a habit of throwing assorted bits and
pieces of my life into those big plastic Target containers which I
then label Miscellaneous. The tubs are later shoved
towards the back of my closet for a future generation of
grandchildren to sort through upon my death.
Sadly, these bins had become so plentiful that I was unable to
squeeze even my tiny vacuum into its regular spot in the closet.
Time to purge. I called Goodwill and arranged a pick-up of clothes,
toys, and other charitable-worthy items. Old paperwork, bills, and
magazines faced the recycle bin.
When I opened the very last container, I was surprised to find a
stack of my old day planners. I smiled and couldn't resist flipping
through a few heavily-scheduled weeks of my professional life.
There were trips to London and New York and Bermuda. There were
meetings with CFO Magazine and Crain's Chicago.
Conference calls. Staff meetings. Budget sessions. It was like I
had done a Narnia-style trip through my closet and had arrived back
in the strange and exotic world of Before I Had Kids.
For kicks, I pulled out my current calendar. Baseball games.
Piano practices. Report card pick-ups. Not a single event required
me to wear a suit or heels. Or even take a shower, really.
I continue to be humbled and amazed by the women who maintain
two of these kinds of calendars. Fly to London, arrive home, go to
a kid's baseball game. Spend eight hours working on a department
budget, come home, and make sure the kids practice their piano and
do their homework. I fear that for me, no cup of coffee in the
world would have given me that kind of gumption. I tried for a
while to keep all those balls in the air: career, marriage,
children. Yet I kept dropping things. I forgot meetings. I cried
when I took my kids to the store and discovered I'd been shoving
their feet into shoes that were two sizes too small. I made my
husband feel like Ted Bundy for failing to notice we had run out of
I sometimes feel that women diminish the choices of each other.
We start comparing struggles, stressors, and scars while assigning
value to things that are highly subjective and personal. What works
for one mom might not work for the next. What brings fulfillment
and joy to one woman could break another. Finances, partner
support, and job flexibility throw a whole different set of
variables into the equation. The endless debate of who has it
harder, the working mom versus the stay at home mom, is akin to
arguing over a favorite color. The answer depends on the woman and
A work friend of mine gave me grief several years ago about not
keeping my skill set up for a return to work. I told her I had
developed new expertise in the areas of boogar-removal and
butt-wiping. Oddly enough, she was not impressed.
In the movie Mona Lisa Smile, Julie Roberts tells an
entire class of 1950s Wellesley women to aspire to great heights
and achievement. The girls look beyond the traditional roles of
women, and give thought to the message of their teacher. Yet my
favorite scene is when one of the young women, excited about being
newly engaged with dreams of a family, turns to her mentor as she
relentlessly pushes her to continue on to law school. The student
To you a housewife is someone who sold her soul for a center
hall colonial. She has no depth, no intellect, no interests. You're
the one who said I could do anything I wanted. This is what I
I closed up my old day-planners and debated whether I should
toss them or put them back in the tub of miscellaneous. Was there
any point in keeping this record of years gone by? Did I need to
let my past disappear into the recycle bin so I could secure a
little extra room in my crammed closet?
I surveyed the small pile.
The day planners went back in the closet.
And I gave away all my size eight skirts instead.
Marianne is mother of three sons and the wife of a southside Irish fireman. She has learned that sometimes you're just too dumb to know what makes you happy. She blogs regularly at We Band of Mothers (webandofmothers.com) and curses with even greater frequency. Her material is written for the imperfect, the imprudent, and the impatient mothers who know that all this stuff is really very funny if you just give it a minute.
See more of Marianne's stories here.
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