Monday, August 20, 2012

The Working Dilemma, Part II

I haven’t blogged since I started my new job, mainly because, to be honest, I was too.freaking.tired.  Some of it is just adapting (6 weeks of getting up at 8am and napping whenever I wanted seriously spoiled me), adjusting to the 45-minute traffic-laden commute, and learning to squeeze in errands and chores on the weekends or evenings. But some of it, honestly, is just because I’m not a superworman. Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article in the Atlantic Monthly was incredibly timely  because I am just now realizing that I was lied to.
My whole life, I’ve essentially been told, “OF COURSE women can be doctors/lawyers etc.”. But now, I’m looking at some of the incoming 1Ls at the law school where I work, and thinking, “These women will be close to 30 when they graduate, with 30 years of debt to pay off, and a punishing few years, at least, as an associate in a law firm. How could they possibly have kids?”. Even though I don’t (thank God) have any grad school debt (although I suppose I’m now shouldering my husband’s) and don’t find working in higher ed a more-than-average time commitment (except during orientation and exam weeks), I’m STILL struggling. I know, at 27, I should seriously be considering children. But I can’t imagine trying to do everything I do now AND have a baby, not to mention worrying about daycare and providing for everything on a (thus far) single salary. Plus cook dinner every night and do the majority of the housework.
Why were we told we could have it all? Was it on the assumption that we would hire  housekeepers/nannies? Because honestly, the thought of someone else raising my children makes me break out into a cold sweat. At the same time, though, I don’t want to give up the career I’ve fought so hard to have. What’s the answer? Not have kids? Every time I think “I can’t have kids! No way can I handle them on top of everything else!” I see a baby and feel that deep-seated yearning to have one of my own.
And yet, some nights I don’t get home until 7:30 if I manage to go to the gym, which is just the time of an ideal bedtime for a young child.
About a year ago, I told an acquaintance that I was willing to give up my career for children. Even if that were true, and I’m not convinced yet it is, it’s not a possibility right now as I am the only one working. There is literally no way for me to make the choice to be a stay-at-home mom, no matter how much I might discover I want to.
Ultimately, it’s the struggle between society (get a job, work hard, make money) and biology (have children, spend your life raising them). Is there really a way to balance them that doesn’t require hiring outside help? For us, not in this recession, at least not for now.
My only answer as of today? Start drinking coffee. It’s incredibly sad that this is all I can think of to do, but there it is. I have to manage an 8-hour work day, hour and a half of commuting, occasional gym sessions, cooking dinner, and housework somehow. Caffeine, you’re my new best friend.

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