The Parent(hood) Trap

Two months ago, I turned 29. I feel pretty good about it. I never subscribed to the notion that your life ends when you’re 30, or you’re a failure if you haven’t accomplished every single life goal you have by that age. Unfortunately, I’m starting to notice that the sand in my biological clock is running out. I’m not in a rush to have a baby right now, or even next year. But I am aware that my uterus doesn’t give a damn about my professional or financial goals. If I am going to have the two kids I’d like (and not directly back to back) I’ve really only got two more years before I need to get a move on.

Which kinda sucks. I love being married, and kids are so much work. I like that my weekends aren’t packed with Little League games and dance recitals. If I want a night out with my husband, I don’t have to get a babysitter. If I come home from work and don’t feel like cooking, we can order takeout from anywhere. When I get up in the morning I don’t have to wake, dress, wash, and feed another human being. I just have to take a minute to mourn the unfairness of the fact that despite all the help moms may get from active fathers, the fact is that they can’t share the huge burden of actually making the baby. You might be able to go back to work in six weeks, and you may be able to have (s)e.x again in three months, but it really takes a year before your body and mind get back to normal (well, as normal as they can be when you’re sleep deprived and raising an infant). I look at my adorable goddaughter and can’t help but think about how drastically her parents’ lives have changed. Better I’m sure, but still COMPLETELY different than before.

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Unfortunately, biology just doesn’t seem to have caught up with society. Your body is more or less ready to have kids as soon as you finish puberty. I’ll say that was around 15 or so for me, because that’s when I hit my adult height. I didn’t finish law school until I was 25, and got married that same year. So when, exactly, was I supposed to have a kid? Some studies say I should have one now, because if I wait any longer I’ll destroy my earning potential. But you can’t make a living wage without at least a college degree anymore, and tuition costs are sky high. So being a student and a parent is nearly impossible–you’re losing time to study and money for tuition at the same damn time. I have so much respect for the people that do it though. Then when you’re finally financially and mentally ready to have a kid, your body is on the decline and you’ve got to take time away from work that will potentially haunt the rest of your career.

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Honestly? I wish I could back in time and shake some sense into Gloria Steinem and all those second wave feminists. I think they went a little too hard in the paint on all that working outside the home stuff. Now you gotta work AND be a mom and feel like you’re failing at both. And what do men have to do? Learn how to wash some dishes and do the laundry? Sheeeeiiiit. Doesn’t seem like a fair trade off to me. Lord. Somebody convince me that parenthood is worth it before I go and get my tubes tied. Just kidding…kinda sorta…

 

 

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When I Grow Up

Even though I’m officially out of the 18-24 demographic and considered an adult, I still feel like I have a ways to go in terms of becoming a Grown Woman. You know, the boss chick who walks in and has presence. She’s smart, well-put together, and totally self-possessed. While there are a lot of potential sheroes out there for me to emulate- Michelle Obama, Oprah, or Kerry Washington to name a few- my ultimate classy dame role model is fictional. Jessica Pearson from Suits, as portrayed by Gina Torres.

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My favorite part of any Suits episode is whenever Gina Torres is on the screen. Her character is the senior named partner at  a top New York law firm. She swims with the sharks every day and always manages to come out on top, even when it’s her blood in the water. She steals every scene she’s in by deftly dressing down bad boy lawyer Harvey Specter, his protege Mike Ross, and Louis Litt (Harvey’s self-appointed nemesis).

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But even though she is undoubtedly the HBIC, Jessica never loses that feminine touch. She’s the queen of substance with style and she’s got a wardrobe to die for.

Jessica-Pearson

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Of course, Jessica isn’t a real person. But she presents herself the way that I want to be seen in my professional life. Poised, confident, polished, and always the smartest person in the room (or at least, the one who’s done the most research). It inspires me to try even harder at my job, seasonal part-time though it may be. It never hurts to overachieve and while first impressions last the longest, they can be changed. While I’m excellent at what I do, I’ll admit that I could better look the part. It’s time for me to drop some of the habits I developed in college and grad school (like staying up past my bedtime and not waking up early enough to fully put myself together). While I can’t afford designer suits or a weekly blowout, I can step up my business casual and throw on some lipstick and eyeshadow so that I people don’t mistake me for a high-schooler.

Who is your professional role model? Do you have any tips or tricks for looking put together at work?

What women want

With some women you almost have to be a mind reader!

With some women you almost have to be a mind reader!

The other night we went out for Mexican food and margaritas, and then had a little kickback. Of course, when you have a bunch of young men and women who are slightly tipsy and talking after midnight, the conversation turned to sex and dating. Nothing too racy but still my mind was blown. I’m a bit of a. . . traditionalist*, so there was a lot of pearl-clutching on my end. What was really interesting to me was the differing attitudes toward communication. There was an interesting resistance on the part of the ladies (other than me) to straightforwardly asking for what you want, in or out of the bedroom. “I don’t like directing,” said one. “I like to do things that make the guy think this is what he wanted to do, and it was his idea,” said the other. Really though? As Tex pointed it out, it’s not an ineffective or totally unreasonable way to go about living your life. It does get results. But it just seems so silly and stupid to me! How is it work to ask for you want? I do that as naturally as breathing. Maybe it’s just because I’m a youngest child, but I took all those cliche’s about closed mouths and squeaky wheels to heart. Once I heard Matthew 7:7 it was a done deal. I was going to ask, seek and knock like it was my business!

Basically, I’m simple. I’m not very good at dissembling, plus I’m impatient so candor is just more efficient! And to me, it just comes off as condescending, bordering on disrespectful, to try to direct someone’s actions without them realizing it. Nothing is more attractive to me than a man who knows his own mind. My goal was always to find a man who wanted the same things I did, so that eventually I wouldn’t need to always ask him for things. It would start to happen naturally through our reciprocal affection and desire to please one another. To put it metaphorically, I’m an open book. I practically come with an instruction manual! If you don’t bother to read it, it wasn’t meant to be. But I certainly don’t expect you to be able to read it in braille, or write it without being able to ask me any questions.

I don’t want to come off as a smug wife who thinks she knows what’s best for the poor single ladies by virtue of the ring on her finger. However, I’ve always had a strong sense that no matter what your other preferences, open and honest communications are a necessary piece of a successful relationship. And again, isn’t it just easier? Maybe I’m being naive, I haven’t dated actively for 5 years so who knows. What do you think?

*Some would call me a prude, but I disagree. I have a healthy relationship with my own sexuality, I just don’t particularly care to see or hear about anyone else’s :-/

Girls Run the World

“Why don’t women get along? Because we believe that being bad is better than being powerful.” – Iyanla Vanzant

Much of what we say to women about a woman we don’t like boils down to “Who does she think she is?” And sometimes, it’s legitimate. I’m the last one to tell you that we can all be kumbayah, all the time because some people are just flat out rude. BUT. You should not let someone else’s behavior dictate your own, and no matter how justified you may feel in disliking someone, it doesn’t give you license to cut a fool too. However, those situations are not the ones that I want to talk about. I want to talk about why it is that we so often say, “I just don’t like that chick” on first impression. While I’ve definitely uttered those words more than once, I’ve much more often been on the receiving end. People (90% being the female variety) have told me that I’m spoiled, stuck up, arrogant, unfriendly. This usually followed a time where I was not deemed to be accommodating enough to other people’s agendas. When conversations arise that result in me voicing my high expectations for suitors; situations where I affirm my belief in self-care and say “no” to something; when I refuse to bend over backwards or change myself to convince someone to like me- that is when I am suddenly, “too much.” But why is that?

The Iyanla quote above made me think: when we unabashedly set high expectations, we are exercising our power. And that is uncomfortable because women are socialized to hide it. We are victims of learned helplessness. Somewhere along the way, we allowed ourselves to be convinced that feminine softness, or the idea of Biblical submission, meant that we were obligated to be everything that men wanted and ask permission for our autonomy. No, not at all! The way I see it ,being a woman simply means that you don’t use a bludgeon where a stick will do. Countless studies have shown that women’s tendency to lead by consensus, and collaborate in the workplace, is just as effective when strategically deployed as more aggressive leadership techniques. And note that I said “strategically”: the nicest person in the room doesn’t usually win in business, but you can also look out for your own interests without trampling on others. And there is also power in putting yourself first. Women also absorb the idea that we need to be everything to everybody and end up putting themselves last. I rebuke that notion. As the youngest child in my family and a self-proclaimed princess, putting myself first isn’t as hard for me as it is for others. I know that if I’m not good to myself, I can’t be the best student/lover/friend/sister/worker that I can be. I feel no shame in asking for help when I need it, or letting myself be pampered because when I am happy and healthy and grounded, I have nothing but positive energy to put out into the world.

So what about you? Are you comfortable claiming your power?