A few weeks ago when I was a woman on the verge of ending up the “Inside Edition” docu-trama-du-jour, I took it day by day. Truthfully, it was all I could do since it took that much out of me just to make it through the day. Now, however that I’m a bit better health-wise, my mental faculties have resumed their full throttle hyper-worried pace where they operate and while I wish I could focus solely on the existential as opposed to being thrust head first into the here, now, and future, as pertains to life-altering, big and scary decision with serious repercussions, turns out I need to start coming up with a plan and fast at that.
Here I am faced with the option of going back to work in a month and a half full-time and working at a pace that tired me out before my son for a job that didn’t ultimately fulfill me even if I did love some of the people I worked with (yeah, not so much...), possibly dialing it down a notch and seeing if I can work part-time, or simply throwing in the towel on being a web producer. If I do go back to work it means sucking myself back into the vortex of working to live rather than loving my work life.
Am I demanding too much at this point in my life if I want to love what I do professionally AND have a rewarding home life that permits me to see my family and spend time with them almost as much as I work?
I’ve read the articles that dictate to me how to navigate effectively the work-life postpartum high wire – the Mayo Clinic articulates the pre- and post-preparation of maternity leave quite well with wonderful step-by-step instructions. Unfortunately rationally dictating these steps to a new, first-time mother who is in denial that she will ever have to part from her son for 2 straight hours to run to the grocery store- let alone 60-hour-week sacrifices – proves utterly futile.
And while there is something to be said for not living in squalor due to low cashflow and finding a compromise that works, I’m also worried I won’t be able to conjure up the exact scenario I want. I guess the key is starting with the scenarios you don’t want and in the past few weeks I’ve met a few people which make me want to never leave my kid in anyone elses’ care ever.
There was the chain-smoking, toothless grandma whom I wasn’t sure if her lack of oral hygiene offended me more or the White Diamonds perfume she doused herself in to mask her nasty nicotine habit. Then there was the woman with 7 kids of her own whose experience in childcare attracted me but whose “belagan” (Hebrew for “mess) mantra of learning to live with mountains of crumbs piled up like snow drifts on the living room floor and “no-gate” policy whereby my kid when he crawls could potentially end up at the bottom of the 19 winding, narrow stairs leading up to her apt. after bathing himself in matzo crumbs – well let’s just say wasn’t something I wanted to entertain.
The key is to keep my options open and to give myself time (hopefully earning $$ in the meantime) to really carve out the here and now I want for my family. That will be my pledge to myself for the time being.
If cats have 9 lives and humans only 1, how can you explain the fact that I’ve gone and knocked off 2 lives in the past 2 months? If this rationale is correct (and #s aren’t really my forte) I must be some sort of she-cat.
By now you must be curious how I evaded the clutches of death not once, but twice. I never expected to go down the route of death by drowning but it turns out my body had other plans for me after the birth of my son. Births are supposed to be miraculous, life-changing events and seeing my son for the 1st time was.
It was all the stuff after that really defined the overall experience for me.
After 22-hours of laboring from induction, being 9 cm dilated, I had a c-section anyways. Somewhere in all of this marathon which included a really crap episode of “Lost” (Seriously JJ Abrams, you deserve a drastic cut in pay for that one) I contracted some less-than-5%-of-the-population-get-this-and-your-body-could-turn-septic-on-you-and-kill-you-or-at-best-render-your-uterus-a-thing-of-the-past. Oh, and breastfeeding? You can forget about that. You’re hanging on by a tiny thread here. Get serious!
Yes, I almost died and much to every woman’s nightmare my body was flooded with infected fluid which not only threatened to shut down my vital organs but made me incredibly bloated with distended belly which prevented me from walking or seeing my toes for that matter. In short, I got fat and after being fat for 9 mos. that is the last thing a pregnant woman wants.
But the worst of it was the constant memory of my own mother’s tragic turn. Memories flooding my mind of her telling me she didn’t want to leave us and worried about who would look after us and then in the end after all the radiation, kicking the bucket in her 40s after cancer ripped thru her body the way a weedwacker hacks it way thru an unkept field. I know most healthy, active people my age don’t resort to thinking they are dying but when doctors throw words at you like “life-threatening” and this is what you know, you resign yourself to being done for.
But I’m not dead – or at least I hope not because in heaven you should NOT get your period. I’m here writing this post after a month has gone by and I’ve been able to convalesce at my house and while I would have preferred to be 100% healthy with all the sleep deprivation that goes on looking after a newborn, I’m also grateful I got to be home and to get to know him, 2X daily IV infusions and all – even if I am, as one doctor put it, a “postpartum disaster.”
I guess there is no point to this post at all (like many of my ramblings) but what I’m left with in all of this is this familiar adage my husband taught me and now feels branded on my soul, “We make plans and G-d laughs.” If you could have told me 2.5 months ago that I would have needed a c-section and to boot I wouldn’t have been able to breastfeed that would have been my greatest fear. Turns out that stuff is all bubkis. The best gift you can give to a kid is the one you don’t really have 100% control over – being healthy. For now, I dodged a bullet I think and let’s hope that this whole she-cat thing buys me more time on this earth. I now have 2 very important reasons not to travel too far from this planet anytime soon.
And here you probably thought I was going to close this post out on a cheeky, irreverent note…
In the past 24 hours, I’ve been studying the decline of the # of female entrepreneurs either starting their own businesses or taking their new businesses to the next level. Both the Kauffman Foundation‘s Report on Entrepreneurial Activity and Global Entrepreneurship Monitor‘s 2007 Report on Women & Entrepreneurship indicate an alarming decrease in the # of women globally starting their own companies.
While certain countries, such as Japan and Peru, show an increase in the # of female entrepreneurs, by in large, men are twice as likely to start their own businesses as women. More than that, there are very few dissimilitudes in the way both genders approach business to account for the disparity.
So what’s stopping us?
Well, for one, GEM’s study finds that women tend to be less optimistic about the risk of starting a new business or making a change. This causes women to be less confident about their ventures and as a result, the fear of failure kicks in and results in a flight response.
While fear of failure has often been attributed to killing a women’s drive, and I, for one, am no less of a chicken, in this regard, how do we go about dispelling that fear and ridding it from our consciousness?
Getting personal for a second, when I had a miscarriage earlier this year (from which I’m still reeling from a bit), my gut reaction was what an absolute failure I was. I had a similar reaction when I lost my job, a month after I had my miscarriage. It wasn’t quite as severe, but I the same feelings of shame surfaced again.
I was angry at myself for feeling like a loser, but came to realize, that falling short is perhaps a woman’s greatest insecurity. Just look at how we’re conditioned from our youth to find, not just any Alpha Male to mate with, but the one with the right genetic combination to satisfy the lofty expectations of our family and friends, and if we’re lucky to meet our own. We have to compete with how many other women? (aside from mom, sister and ex-girlfriends?)
So how do we empower women to feel confident and optimistic about change and risk without tapping into their deep-seated fears about their competencies? In short, how do we level the playing field?
The United Nations is working on an initiative called “gender mainstreaming” that is about identifying gaps and bridging understanding in developing countries. In Lativa, women-owned businesses favor hiring women and it’s proved to be an effective way of ushering a new generation of women into the workforce there. And in Finland, women-owned businesses show the most profitability so they are exploring ways to make executive roles more gender-neutral and merit-based. (as opposed to the ‘ol boys network)
With the word “Change” being tossed around like some cheap dime store whiskey lately in presidential campaigning, I’m hesistent to cheapen a sentiment here. Let’s just say the world won’t get better overnight, but progress can and should be made everyday.