This morning, I woke up under strong impressions from my past.
I remembered these really comfortable shoes my mom bought at a discount and I loved them more than anything. I remembered how my brother and I used to make our own ponds in the garden, and I thought of the ugly caterpillar I secretly kept in a box. To me, it was the most beautiful pet in the world.
These small sections of life made me ask the same old question: WHO AM I? Did I lose the soul and dreams that child once had?
Am I a woman? Am I a mother? Am I a manager? Am I not everything and everything else in between?
Choices. Life Is about Choices.
The fractions of different scenes in my head led me to the ultimate choice I had to make. I was making great progress in my career, but the man I loved proposed at the worst possible timing. Wait a minute… I was destined for greatness, wasn’t I? I never saw myself as a stay-at-home mom, and I knew my job demanded 24/7 hard work. Accomplishing both of these things at the same time seemed like a mission impossible.
Many women bury their dreams and remain forever unrealized economists, lawyers, artists, athletes, and businesswomen. They cannot live up to the expectations of their careers when they also want a family. Don’t get me wrong: I wanted a family, too. I loved this man with my whole heart and there was nothing I wanted more than having a house full of kids. Was I ready to give up on my other dreams for that?
Let me tell you something about the biggest lie of modern civilization: it’s the one about the man being the ultimate achievement of evolution. Damn that excellence when it’s suffocated with limitations and minimal prospects of self-realization.
When a woman complies with the expectations and abandons all other dreams to become a full-time wife and mom, she falls into sub-living. At the moment when I was almost ready to make the choice in favor of the family I wanted to have (that was always the priority), I felt like someone who existed for mere statistics. A random woman with a random man and a birth date. I knew damn well how much I could give, but it seemed like society wasn’t giving me a chance.
Of Course I Chose My Man!
He saw the struggle. He understood. The last thing he wanted to do was to suffocate my potential. He was the one who always supported me through the hardest professional struggles and gave me wings to fly. He knew that if I chose him, I wouldn’t be able to stay as committed to my career as I was at that time.
I still remember what I said to him:
I would never leave you. How could I stay lucid when I’m crazy about you?
After all that guilt, Jack Daniels, a night full of emotions and truth, “I love you” couldn’t even describe how much I was his and he was mine. Behind the scenes of the world, when the doors were closed, it seemed like time had stopped and we knew that was the most important decision we had ever made.
One Choice Doesn’t Revoke the Others. Women, We Are More Powerful than We Think!
I still remember the next morning. I woke up and looked in the mirror. The reflection rubbed every single fear I had right in my face. What was I leaving behind? Unfulfilled dreams, ruined ideals, visions and goals. My recognizable optimism was crumbling. I became a stranger to myself.
That was the moment when I rediscovered my passion for the career I chose, and I decided to remain positive. A woman can be both a mother and a high achiever. I proved that. It took a lot of time and superhuman persistence. But, I made it possible.
I am proud with everything I have achieved in terms of career, family, and finances. There were moments when I thought I was in hell. I started working when I was in college, and I had two jobs during senior year. I managed to attend classes and I studied for entire nights because I wanted to graduate early. I also had a boyfriend, and I found time for the many friends I had. Sleep and rest? Well, I had none of it.
I got a great job right after graduation, and I progressed like crazy. During this period, that same boyfriend asked me to marry him. I got pregnant soon after that and I gave birth to a beautiful, shiny girl that never takes the smile off her face.
I wanted to keep my job and my husband gave me all support I needed. I had to go back to work when she was only three months all. I felt like I was stuck in the worst horror movie. I was allowed to go home for breastfeeding, and that routine caused a huge chaos in my daily life. I kept forgetting the breastfeeding time because I was too consumed with the work, and when I got home to breastfeed I was constantly thinking of the tasks I had to cover by the end of the day.
A Mother Must Adapt
It took me one year to realize that I had to change my job. I knew it was demanding too much of my time and energy and I needed something with fewer responsibilities, but I was still determined to get a job I loved. I started a new, more relaxed job, and I got pregnant again soon after. Oh, the irony!
At this time, I knew I had to stay at home. But I didn’t give up. When my son was one year old, I enrolled in graduate school. What a horror! With two children, graduate school is madness!
After some time, I got a job at the same company I previously worked at. I progressed to a managerial position within a year, and I was still going on with the MBA studies. Currently, I’m in a good place. It took me many years to make the progress I could have achieved in few months, but guess what: I also have my kids, the man of my life, and a career I’m proud of.
Don’t get me wrong: there are desperately difficult times in my life. I travel often, I work a lot, I’m working on my Master’s thesis, and I’m still the one who takes the children to the doctor. Sometimes when I’m absent from home for a week, I come back and see that my kids have learned something new. That hurts. Sometimes I say stupid things in the middle of a meeting because I haven’t slept for days watching over my kids.
But, success is what drives me forward. I’m not a mom completely committed to her career. I am still always there for my children and they are the only priority I have. Still, I’m committed to getting a Ph.D. and I will still realize the dreams I always had.
Run Home from the Prison of Limitations!
To all women out there: you’re not statistics. We were not born with the sole purpose to reproduce; we were born for greatness. Ask yourself every day: WHO ARE YOU?
When most women get married, they seem like mere variations of the same theme. They all have needs for an abundance of love, happiness, and personal achievements, but it seems like they have to give up on some dreams in favor of the others. When society and the institution of marriage create borders, walls, and hedges around them, they forget all about the goals they used to have and they slowly start to wither.
It annoys me when I hear people asking how I could possibly study and work when I have two children at home. I CAN!
I discovered that aging is not about the wrinkles in the corners of my eyes or the traitorous white hairs I get overnight. Aging is about becoming wiser and happier. It’s when you look at the mirror and you see all battles you’ve lost and won in the reflection of your eyes. As I reach new levels of realization, I keep revealing that child in me. The same one that saw the beauty in the caterpillar. The same one who believes we can all become butterflies.
When you find the strength inside you, you’ll realize you have the power to fly! Mary Kleim (Click to Tweet!)
Mary Kleim is a creative writer and happy women. She is her small writing business dedicated to student help AssignmentMasters. Also, she is working on creating a women’s community that will help women to find own place and work life balance.
Image courtesy of Volker Schnäbele.