As I embark on a potential switch in careers while carrying our third child and wanting the best for him/her, I find myself simply torn. I battle with serious depression and anxiety, for which I am medicated, but the rift within me seems so much greater than any kind of medical diagnosis. I want the life of a mother raising her children in a focused and loving environment, but I would be devastated if not given the opportunity to use my intelligence and abilities.
Fortunately, we cannot afford for me not to work. While I find myself dreaming of the picturesque day when I could get in some writing before my children wake up, prepare a nutritious breakfast for them to feast upon, have a day lined out with brainwave enhancing activities for them to practice, and retire in the evening with three in the hay and a nice glass of wine in my hand, I know that this will not be a possibility in any near future of mine. I have married “under” me, which is a term that inherently seems elitist and probably is more than I would like it to be, but at the time of our marriage my husband had no college degree besides his Associates and worked in manual labor. I, on the other hand, came from a family in which both parents held masters in their fields and I personally was four months shy of my Bachelors. I graduated with honors and felt that I was smarter than he. In truth, I do sound elitist.
Work, though, is something I have to do because of my intelligence. I’m inquisitive and simply enjoy learning. If there was an occupation in which I could sit, listen, take notes, write papers based on all I’ve learned, and then hopefully be praised by others, I would take it in a heartbeat. There may be variations of occupations with these prerequisites, like being a Researcher, but to my knowledge no such job truly exits. However, that does not keep me from seeking a job that could definitely use these skills, these favors towards continual education. Work is a place where I can separate myself from “mother of three” and just be.
The rift that I previously referred to has grown stronger since the uncertainties have loomed larger. This rift caused me to ravenously search Amazon for a book that just might give me a glimpse into another woman’s life, whom might just be experiencing what I was. Then I found it, a buoy in a sea to which I could hang on to and simply rest when the uncertainties chased me like the current. Samantha Parent Walravens compiled Torn: True Stories of Kids, Career, and the Conflict of Modern Motherhood which is a collection of stories from women all over the world who sent in their day-by-day struggles with balancing children and career.
I began reading the stories after one of my largest meltdowns I had had in awhile. After reading a couple of the true tales, my emotions swung like a pendulum to another side of peace, a place I could navigate knowing I was not alone. God had blessed me with a gift in Walravens’ compilation and I am compelled to share it with women that I know could use it.
One such glimpse into a woman’s life struck just the right chord. Lindsey Mead, in her story “A Foot in Two Worlds” talks about her prestigious Ivy League education being wasted when scaling back in the professional world to align herself with her family goals. Her fears resonate with me as I hope that one day I will be able to continue in my pursuit of my masters and doctorate in English and that my education and all the money I will spend to attain that education will be worth it and not a detriment to my husband and children.
I strongly encourage anyone reading this who may have the same fears and tears in her life to read this book. It is a fabulous look at what modern mothers struggle with in our society today. I pray it gives you the sense of peace it has offered me in these past few days. It might just give you some direction as well.
Mead, Lindsey. “A Foot in Two Worlds.” Torn: True Stories of Kids, Career, and the
Conflict of Modern Motherhood. 27 April 2011. Coffeetown Press.
Originally published online in PAW (Princeton Alumni Weekly), September 22, 2010.
Parent Walravens, Samantha. Torn: True Stories of Kids, Career, and the Conflict of
Modern Motherhood. 27 April 2011. Coffeetown Press.