I never assumed it would be easy to leave my lucrative and personally rewarding job but I might have underestimated the tough moments I would have after it was all over. I know I made the right decision given all of my circumstances but I know it will take a long time to get over this seething anger I have at the choices women have to make and the way our society is structured. Let's all be real with one another....women are not left with many good options. If a woman chooses to have a child, she will have to give up many things. Those things will depend on which priorities she chooses. If she chooses to maintain her career and power and financial independence, she will lose out on spending time with her precious children when they are young. She will have to relinquish their care to someone else. She will miss out on thousands, if not millions, of opportunities to influence them. She will miss first words, first grasps of concepts, first experiences, first giggles, first jokes, first heartbreaks, first memories. And that is, I am sure, just breaking the surface of what she'll miss out on when it comes to her children. I know because I missed all those things in my daughter's first 2 years of life while I was busy working. On the other hand, if she chooses to devote herself to full-time or almost full-time motherhood, she will miss out on, well, sometimes it seems like everything. A paycheck, career growth, the opportunity to be exposed to a wealth of different people, ideas, concepts, training, experiences, mentors, perks, travel, bonuses, the latest technologies, power, promotions, the chance to excel. She will never know exactly what she could have been.
I find myself in this position now. Already, I've made that crucial decision and it's too late to turn back. It's only been a little over a month and I already wonder what I could have been. It's too late to turn back, at least on that path. Looking forward, I do know that I don't want to be one of those women who throws all her own lost dreams and ambitions onto her children. It's just not fair. I don't want to lead an unfulfilled life for myself. I just cannot live THROUGH my children as so many people do. As one of my idols, Anna Quindlen, has said, "Children tear your world apart and then they leave you". I want to make sure that I am left with a very whole person when my children leave me. Happy, healthy, growing, wise, successful, loving, affectionate, compassionate, at peace. I want to have a song in my heart.
How do I get there? I just don't know yet. I do know that I am soul searching so hard and so deeply that it is excrutiatingly painful at times. I want to be comforted by the millions of other women who are out there fighting this same struggle but it just doesn't happen. The battle is way too personal. It feels like only my own and much too difficult and complicated for someone else to understand. I can only take it one day and one step at a time. Today is not so good but maybe tomorrow will be better. But I find myself comforted by a quote I came across the other day (I only wish I knew whose quote it was!): "Some years ask the questions and other years provide the answers". This has been a very tough year for me but I know it won't last forever.