As I spend a part of each day considering job openings, pondering career paths and dusting off my resume, it’s hard not to reflect, although purposefully briefly, on the big picture. What do I want in life? Where is this job going? Where could that one take me? What is my passion? These questions are enough to make an educated, married, twenty-something’s head spin Exorcist style. But after a conversation with the lovely Caitlin, who’s head is spinning in a similar manner, I realized this might not be *SHOCK* a problem exclusive to my crazy little realm. Girls of the world, let’s dish.
Every now and then you watch an Oprah about some wunderkind who started a charity at age 7 to send medical supplies to third world countries. Said child then began to pursue his/her lifelong dream of becoming a doctor, a goal which they completed by age 24, the passion for which they never doubted or lost. And then you’ll read the blog of a witty woman who has children, and loves it, and loves them, and shows a true passion for motherhood and family life. And then you realize that while you want a career and look forward to a family, you don’t have that kind of passion for either. You never want to be CEO, you have no desire to be the president of the PTA. You aren’t lazy. You’re not a baby-hater. But you are also not a work-a-holic, nor do you have what they call ‘baby fever.’
The strangest part about these realizations is that I actually feel guilty over them. I feel guilty that I’m not completely driven with concrete goals for my current or future career. The time and resources invested in my education are still serving me well, and I’m proud of my accomplishments. But I don’t feel the need for a career to supplement my identity. I want a job that I love. I’d like to find a field I can excel within. I want to take pride in my work, but I never want a job that takes over my life. I want to feel satisfied with my role as a person, but I don’t think my occupation has to be the only way to find that satisfaction.
After meeting Dave, I started to warm up to the idea of my potential role as a mother. Having a uterus makes me eligible, but having an over-analytical, paranoid and slightly selfish soul made me hesitant to put kids on my radar. Luckily, my partner and I have the same timeline for our future family, but I still don’t have that gung-ho motherly instinct. And no matter how many people tell me ‘Just wait, it will come’, I know it never will. At least not in the way that I see it manifest in other women. I won’t be wearing clever t-shirts indicating the cuteness of the fetus I carry, and I don’t want cartoonish drawings of my family made into decals for the windows of my SUV. I will love my kids, I will change my ways, but I know myself (and the mother from whom I was born) to realize that motherhood for me will not mean a cracked-out, Kathy Lee-esque enthusiasm for all things widdle-baby or mommy-wommy. And sadly, somehow, these truths seem impossible to say in a room of women my age. So cowardly am I, I say it here instead.
I have nothing but love for those friends of my who are incredibly dedicated and extremely successful at their careers. I am so happy for those of my friends who have found a wonderful niche in motherhood. I am in awe of those who manage to have a drive and force that fuels passion for both. But I’ve reached a point, a moment, a corner. And what I have decided is that I don’t have to meet the expectations of my friends, family, society, or Utopian feminist fantasies. I have hopes for the future, plans to execute, places to go. And the lack of specific drive that I have for career or child-rearing funnels directly to another place (near my spleen?) and translates into a general passion for life. I want to be happy, safe, fulfilled. I want to be well-rounded, well-read, well-travelled. I want to spread myself thin enough that I can cover all kinds of interests, thin enough that light shines through, thin enough that I can still fit in my wedding dress someday in the distant future. And mostly, I want to be able to say all this without shame or fear of eye-rolling, without hesitation and concern for the disappointment of others. I want to say it and have my loved ones know that I am not judging them…and hope that this makes them feel free enough not to judge me. It’s hokey, it’s idealistic, and probably overly simplistic. Exactly the way I want it.
The bottom line of what I want to say is this: I can’t do it all. I can’t have the ambitious, ferocious career and the Donna Reid, Martha Stewart home life. Can’t do it, don’t want it. I want to wake up in the morning ready to give ‘er, not needing a pep talk and some uppers just to find the time to smile. Can I find this? We shall see. To be continued…