"I observe that many people seek happiness "out there." They imagine it will come to them if they get a raise, a new car, a new lover, or something else they want but do not have. My own experience, repeated many times, is that the actual reward of getting and having, is usually much less than the one imagined." ~Dr. Andrew Weil
The race. The drive. The rat wheel. The hustle. The rush. The adrenaline.
Here is the truth. My truth, but I have a feeling it's a truth for many other women out there too.
Last week, I sat down with a warm cup of coffee, a cozy fall blanket and the November issue of Marie Claire magazine. One of the moms at school had suggested that I grab a copy, because there was a big feature on some trailblazing women in America.
The article opened liked this:
"In an era when a million Twitter followers trumps a million-dollar paycheck, and viral videos capture more views than Hollywood blockbusters, all the old rules about power are dead. Today, networks are the new companies, and your contacts are currency. Knowing how to leverage them is real power. And nobody knows that better than the women spotlighted here, the most connected women in America." -Marie Claire Magazine
Oooooh, this was gonna be gooood. Real good. Right up my alley. This was gonna be inspiring. Uplifting. A learning experience for my craft, where I can soak up the knowledge, and then implement strategies to up my own game.
And on my cozy couch, I read about woman after woman, doing BEYOND amazing things.
Like Dyllan McGee, founder of Makers.com. Makers is one of my favourite websites of today, and if you haven't checked it out, I suggest you get on it pronto. I read about another PR rockstar Brooke Hammerling, who has been dubbed "yentapreneur," which made me chuckle. It's so perfect! I even read about my long distance uber-smart friend Rachel Sklar, who is changing the ratio in her new startup http://theli.st. The list went on and on about women who are helping shape our world for the better.
And after I finished reading the glossy pages filled with such pioneering women in America, I felt struck by a reality. Actually it was more like a sobering reality.... I'm not even in the race. Brace yourself ladies, yes, I'm going there today. In fact, I might even have what one would call the unfair advantage. Even after everything I've accomplished (not tooting my own horn here, just making a point), I still can't compete with most of these women. Why? Because I have made a tiny little decision: to put my family first.
So get ready, I'm going there NOW. Not in a jealous way, but in a very realistic, pragmatic way, I'm trying to make peace with the fact that I cannot compare myself to women who have no children, and even further, to those who don't have a partner. These female trailblazers without these relationships present in their lives have the career advantage. They can pick up and travel for six weeks to chase that new story, or can work 'til midnight days upon end, because they don't have little bodies to come home to, to feed, to read bedtime stories to, or do Hebrew homework with. These fantabulous women without children are simply able to dedicate more time to their craft and will therefore always be ahead career-wise. They just will. It's the Malcolm Gladwell Outliers law of 10,000 hours.
I have made my choice, (one that I am so grateful for and proud of) and have blogged about it umpteen times. It's the only choice for me... my family comes first. It always has, and until my husband and I are empty-nesters, I will make peace with the fact that I will continue to miss out. I will continue to have to, BITTERLY at times (if I am to be honest), turn down very fruitful career opportunities as they continue to present themselves, just because I am a mom.
And if you are a working mother, chances are you will miss out too. And you will have to make peace with it too. Plainly put, we simply cannot compete with the woman who has no children. Shit, as hard as we try, it just ain't possible -- unless you are cool with your children being raised without their mom, or unless you have a super supportive full-time stay-at-home husband. It's just not feasible, and it's just not humanly possible.
It's ironic that as I delivered a great speech last night at a conference on Chutzpah and entrepreneurship success, I still can't help but feel the sobering reality. I'm really not in the game. And sometimes, I can't help but wonder where I would be if I hadn't chosen family first. Who knows? Maybe divorced with a bigger empire like Martha Stewart. Or maybe I would have made it all work beautifully. I don't know, and honestly, I'm not going to test it. My family is my oxygen, I love being a mother and wife, and us moms, we don't get any do-overs. I want to be the one helping with homework. And I want to be the one reading the bedtime stories.
I will close by saying, this is certainly not the annoying stay-at-home mom vs. working mom war, nor the childless women war either for that matter. It's simply a point that as working moms, we all have the same sobering reality: we really just aren't, truly, in the game. We may be good enough to make it to the playoffs, but we ain't bringing home the Stanley Cup without losing something.
Because we are human.
I'd love to know your thoughts. Can working moms truly have it all? Do you even want to be in the game, or are you happy to have opted out of the workforce? It's a big debate, and I'd like to go there with integrity and respect. Please chime in.