I am going to do it - I am going to talk about women and work. Actually I am going to talk about this woman and work, because that is the only truth I can tell. This is simply my experience and if yours it not the same, I honor it as simply another part of the myriad experiences that women have in working, loving, learning, mothering, creating.
It's always the first question when I meet another mom: "Did you go back to work?", asked sometimes with envy, sometimes with judgment. It always opens the floodgates of the meaning of work, and my self worth, and the fact that the arduous and sometimes monotonous tasks of being a stay-at-home don't count as work. At least not the kind that is an acceptable answer to that question.
When it comes down to it, I simply have to make peace with my choices and my decisions, and see them now as a choice instead of an obligation because I am a woman who has chosen to have a child. I suppose I just fight against how cliche our scenario gets sometimes and the gender roles I so vehemently rebelled against as a freshman in college in my first Women's Studies 101 class. In my mind, the triumph of Feminism and the Women's Movement is my right and ability now to choose.
I have been thinking a lot about our life before baby. I suppose it comes from the fact that we consciously decided that I would not return to the outside workforce in the first year of the nugget's life. For financial reasons and parenting reasons, this was the best choice for our family. The nugget's 1st birthday in March was this deadline in my mind that has now come and gone.
I think that as a woman and mother, when you return to work outside of the home, whether by choice or necessity, you are forced rather quickly to confront the role, lifestyle and person you were before having a baby. And from what I have heard, the confrontation is either tremendously pleasing or disastrously torturous. For me, the process of regaining parts of who I used to be is now approached with excitement and joy. There is this geyser of possibility and creativity bubbling at my core but I am constricted by the irony that I can not seem to find the time to nurture this next step that belongs to me, not my baby or my husband or our home.
So yes, it is with envy that I watched as some of the moms I knew returned to careers outside of their homes that bring them joy and accomplishment. It is with gratitude for my situation that I watched others return to jobs out of necessity. And it is with intrigue that I listen and watch some of the rest of us, wishing or longing for part-time work that engages our minds, fosters our creativity, expands our adult vocabulary, aligns with our greater passions and purpose and has nothing to do with being a mother, but allows us to be the mothers we want to be.
Maybe I should have used I instead of we, but I am going to go out on a limb here and say that I don't think that I am alone.