Compete in powerlifting. Complete RKC certification. Write an intelligent blog. Lose weight. Take a poop alone with no one screaming at you. Think thoughts through to their conclusion. Take a walk alone. Have an uninterrupted adult conversation that lasts for more than 2 minutes. Feel sexy. Have sex. Savor your morning’s bulletproof coffee.
All things you apparently DON’T GET TO DO when you’re a mom–at least this mom.
Because you are always on call. Because daughter is always asking you things like,”How many days would it take to dig to the center of the Earth?’ and running around the house in circles screaming like a banshee, and son is hanging on your leg pulling down your yoga pants because he wants to nurse only on the left boob.
Yes, I was going to compete in a powerlifting meet which was canceled for reasons nothing to do with my children. But in considering another meet in the fall, 30 minutes from my home, I think it is going to be too difficult to make it work for the whole family.
Giving up the RKC (for several reasons–which may be a separate post) has me a little down in the dumps.
I realize that I chose this life with children. That I am choosing to breastfeed my child for longer than is deemed culturally appropriate. That if I didn’t choose this it would probably be lots easier for me to go do other things.
But are any of us completely comfortable with our choices? No matter what we choose there is always an “opportunity cost”. With something gained, something is always lost.
You marry one person, you can’t be with anyone else (at least not officially, not in this culture). You have children, you give up a lot of spontaneity and freedom (at least for awhile). You breastfeed and you give up more of the same. But, if you don’t breastfeed you give up the health and emotional, spiritual, cognitive, hormonal benefits for you and your child. You grow a garden and raise chickens and you have to take care of them. If you don’t, then you are at the mercy of having someone else provide your food. You get up early to lift some iron and you miss that hour of sleep. You eat the ice cream and you get the extra calories that go with it.
It’s not that either choice is good or bad (at least not in many cases), it’s just that you need to look at what you are giving up as well as what you are gaining. And look at what you are gaining as well as what you are giving up. Sometimes the gain is hard to see, or maybe non-existent, or maybe the gain comes down the road and is not immediate. Or maybe, for many of us, we’re not choosing what we want, we’re simply choosing by default–we’re choosing the easy path, the path of instant gratification or the path of staying comfortable.
I don’t ever want to make my choices by default, I want to make them on purpose.
I’m always looking at my choices and attempting to align them with my values. If I say I value health and strength, and physical vitality, then I need to live in such a way that aligns my behaviors with my goals. If I say my family comes first, than I need to actually put them first.
We’ve been told as women that we can have it all. I don’t think this is true. If you try to have it all at the same time, you will go crazy. Something will always get shorted. Whether that something is you, your health, your children, your career, something will be hurting.
Take it from Penelope Trunk. if you want children and you know you are a personality type that wants to (primarily) be with the children (that’s most women), then marry a breadwinner from the outset and don’t try to be a career woman, if that’s just not who you are. This doesn’t mean don’t have other interests, or don’t work at all. It’s just much easier if one person is the breadwinner and the other takes care of the kids.
Yet the expectation for women to do it all is there.
Don’t get me wrong, I want to do the competitions and certifications. Let’s face it, as busy as motherhood is, it can be intensely boring for an INFJ who wants constant intellectual stimulation, deep meaningful connection with other adults, constant personal growth/physical improvement, and always needs a goal to strive for.
But, I need to be realistic (another thing difficult for INFJs) and assess the stage of life I’m in right now.
My mother tells me that I won’t be in this stage of having small children forever. Someday, much of the freedom and flexibility will return, and I will be able to whole heartedly pursue some of my other goals.
But in the meantime, I grit my teeth, clench my fists, continue my 3x/week lifting and training, and continue to take deep breaths, count to 10, change the diapers, and clean up the messes, and be extremely grateful for a husband and mother who give me a break so that I can complete a few thoughts.
What have been the hard choices that you’ve had to make? What have you gained? What have you lost?