I recently (well, a month ago) finished the book Good Enough is the New Perfect. To be honest, I never would’ve read the book except that one of my old professors was a featured mother in the book. I actually heard about the book through the university email newsletter, and it was unusual for me to even read that.
I was intrigued, and it seemed really relevant to me at the time as I had just started a new job. Plus, it is geared to university educated women who are not lacking in the ability to make choices (ie, the old hierarchy of needs, if you can’t put food on the table, you aren’t concerned about other items higher on the hierarchy).
Even though I am technically not in the age range of mothers they interviewed or are speaking to in the book, it really spoke to me.
It has completely changed the way I think.
When I was pregnant, and for some months after I became a mother, I was in a constant battle of wills, against myself. Should I go back to work, should I stay home, should I attempt to find some hourly part time job. These were, I felt, my choices. And I felt that in choosing, I was choosing my whole future life.
In retrospect, it reminds me of the way I felt about choosing a university. I felt like I was choosing my entire future without knowing what I was headed into.
Ridiculous thoughts, I can tell myself now. Especially because of the laughable idea that you can even “choose the future”.
But even after baby was born, I was having trouble reconciling my decision to go back to work.
I felt like I had no choices at all even though I know I did. It was because none of the choices were what I wanted.
Theoretically, I wanted to stay home, but the practical side of me kept saying “no”, “not financially sound”, and the ominous “you would be so lonely, so bored”.
Theoretically, I wanted to work full time, but I want to have summers with my kid, I wanted to be able to comfort him and yes, control the world he experiences.
And the part time option? Not really an option at that point in my life. Current work didn’t allow it, and anything else would’ve been too dramatic of a pay cut to pay for daycare, and there was no free childcare options.
And then came my first realization while reading the book: that I have to choose what is important to me. Second realization? What is important to me can and will change, and that is OKAY.
Working full time is okay for me now. I don’t think I can have it all, but I do have what’s important to me right now (a happy Jameson, a loving husband, a lovely house, and yes, I even have the time to enjoy them and my other hobby, photography), and that makes me happy when I accept those things as the only important things and let the rest go.