on women having it all, part three

posted on: Thursday, October 25, 2012

photo by Christine Kim

i had visions of bringing this little series of mine to a close with thunderous declarative statements.
instead, i'm still pondering and asking questions.
this bothered me a little, initially. the persistence of the questions.
but then i got over it.
because that's the point, isn't it?
to keep asking the hard questions?
even if you never find the so-called "answers"?

it's always been my opinion that a life that is not well-examined is not fully lived.

so i don't have any answers.
but i do have a point.

and, as an aside, i should probably disclose that i now realize
that the title of this series is a bit of a misnomer.
i was never really writing about "women" having it all.
i was always just writing about me.
i recognize that there are women everywhere who don't face the same issues i do
for a number of reasons, including, but not limited to,
their financial situations
their biological situations (addressing the infertility issue here)
their social situations
their preferences

i'm blessed and thankful to be in the conundrum i find myself in.
loving and hating where i'm at all at once. (:

for today, i want to address again the concept of balance.
i've been reading/watching a few things lately that have got my wheels spinning
(like this article, and this one, and this one)
is balance even possible?
is it actually attainable?
is it even desirable?
i've always felt that it is, but i wonder if that is more me conforming to a social construct
rather than an actual desire of my heart to be in a state of balance.
(and yogis everywhere are namaste-ing in disgust)

a friend sent me an article that had an idea i really love:
"constant motion is what makes sustained balance a go"
the author likened this concept to a four-year-old learning to ride a bike.
good imagery, right?
this really resonated with me.
i feel like my life is most zen when it is in constant motion
i thrive on the challenge of keeping all my balls in the air at once.
this is why i'm so well-suited to Emergency Medicine
multitasking is my forte.

but then i caught the end of Eat, Pray, Love on tv the other night
and was reminded of this concept from when i'd read the book:
it is worth losing your balance for love

hearing that made my heart sing.
my own life has proven this to be true
since i fell in love during medical school, most definitely losing my balance along the way
and it was SO worth it.

it made me feel like it would all just be okay.
losing your balance is a scary feeling
but to be reminded that it's worth it to let all those balls drop out of the air
to make room in your life for love
was incredibly comforting for me.

there are people out there who think that it is a shame
that intelligent, high-powered women would choose to drop out of the work force
to go home and be with their families.
and there is a part of me that agrees with them.
i WANT women to hold positions of power
i hate the fact that so many executives and big-decision-makers are men
i would love to see women occupying those positions
i think we'd be phenomenal at it.

but at the same time, i get it.
i understand why they leave the work force to go home to their babies
even if their babies are teenagers.
i struggle with it too.
if having a baby is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body,
then how could you possibly sustain the same level of passion for your job
that you did before your babies were born?
maybe you can. i don't know. i'll keep you posted.
but i'm skeptical.

and there are those who say that your partner should really BE a partner
that your husband (in my case) should equally share the work of the household
to prevent the woman with a career from having two or three "jobs",
when the man only has one.
i know that i find this concept to be completely unattainable in my own life.
the way my husband and i make our household work (now. even BEFORE kids.),
is by acknowledging that there are tasks that we each are better suited for
and assigning those tasks to the person who is better at them.
him-- taking out the trash, paying the bills, picking up dog poo
me-- everything else. (:

my point today is not to tackle the topic of gender roles.
just to point out that women are so good at SO many things.
from making big deals
to making the diagnosis
to making baby food
to making things beautiful
and everything in between.
i'm thankful that America is in a place today where we can tell our daughters
that they can do ANYTHING they dream of doing
and believe it.

i guess this is all just me wanting to believe that i can not only do anything,
but also do everything i've dreamed of wanting to do.
maybe "having it all" is a big fat lie.
maybe you just can't have it all at the same time.
maybe it means something different for everyone.
but dammit, i plan to try.

thank you all for bearing with me as i shared my heart about all this
my deepest heart of hearts. my hopes. my fears.
you've comforted me with reminders of things i knew, but forgot
like, when it happens it will be the right time
or, you'll know when you know.
(i'm paraphrasing, but you get the gist.)
i wanted to argue with you...tell you that you didn't understand...
my birth control is the Fort Knox of birth controls
this wouldn't happen by chance.
i would have to willfully make a choice to allow it to have a chance to happen.
and even then, maybe nothing.

but when it comes right down to it, you were all right.
when it happens, it WILL be the right time.
and i won't be ready, but it will be okay.
i thrive on chaos, and will find a way to keep my balance anyway.
and if i happen to lose it? this mythical sense of balance?
so what?
it'll be worth it.


  1. Love, love, love! You are not alone in these feelings, and I thank you for sharing them so honestly and openly. I'm excited to see how this plays out in your life and mine. One of the joys of blogging is knowing that you're not alone in what you're going through. :)

  2. Good read! :) I think all of these feelings are in so many women, especially when you feel like you REALLY want to be a mother, and then second guess yourself, have you done enough in the workforce? Did you prove to everyone you can do both? Then I remember the ones that love you aren't judging, you are just judging yourself. ( not sure that made sense :))

  3. I loved Part 3.

    No matter how hard we try as women, it will never be the same as being a man in the workplace, in my opinion. Even if you decide to be a big time executive and you want to have kids... there are still going to be times where you have to sacrifice one for the other. For example, maternity leave.

    As an engineer, I work with all men. And while I know eventually I will need and want to take maternity leave to have a baby, it makes me slightly uncomfortable. I have worked so hard to be considered and consulted at work. I'm not sure taking 3 months off to heal and bond with a baby will be well understood by the men I work with. I know they "get it" but they don't really get it. It's just not the same. So do I sacrifice time with the baby so I don't go back in time building my place at work? That will be my balancing act.

    So basically... I am picking up what you are putting down. It won't be easy, but I refuse to give up either of my ambitions to be an engineer and a mother. So I will make it work. Somehow. :)

  4. so socratic of you (:

    and i have all the faith that you will be able to "make it work" as tim gunn says...

    (im sure my philosophy undergrad professors would LOVE me putting socrates and tim gunn in the same sentence.. err, blog comment..)


  5. thank you for your heartfelt-soul-bearing words. the notion of "having it all" somehow always rears its head as i continue to chase my dream career. it hangs out and lingers...and i wonder if am strong enough to confront it. for now, i haven't a clue either. but i am grateful for people like you who help me realize that i'm not alone in the way i think and feel.
    a refreshing and fantastic read! :)

  6. I have really enjoyed this series. As an attorney and a woman whose dream in life is to be a mom, I can relate. The thought of "wasting" the time and money I spent on my education, not to mention the skills and expertise I have acquired would be a shame. To have children and not have a large role in their lives would be heartbreaking. I picked the type of law I am doing because it is more conducive to having both. It will still be hard some day. I think we all seek balance. It is those transition periods where we lose our balance. It is scary; a leap (or fall) of faith. However, it gives us the ability to find a new balance and a new equilibrium. God chose women for this role because he knew we were uniquely capable of doing so much. Maybe we aren't running as many companys but we are raising the men (and women)that are. We have an important role too. Thanks for giving us time to reflect on this and putting yourself out there. Keep us posted and congrats on 5 years!

  7. Beautiful and thought-provoking. There is no answer to this question. It's different for everyone, and it changes often. I agree with many of your thoughts and understand completely. Whichever way you choose, it's hard.


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