I had a good and thought provoking talk with a friend last night, while on the treadmill no less.
She is a fairly new mom; her daughter is about 5 months old. We went to graduate school together and she was very instrumental in the development of my feminist side. She's always been fiercely independent, very driven and definitely wanted it all.
She talked pretty honestly about her issues with life right now. We are both in a bit of a holding pattern with our careers right now. Not sure where to go next or what decisions will make us happiest and fulfilled. She also talked about how hard it is to be a mom. She loves her daughter more than she thought she could ever love something. But it's hard. None of this was in a complaining nature. She was just being honest.
She talked about the competition and judgment that comes from other moms. The trouble she had breast feeding and how horrible people made her feel for it. How she feels like if she is going to leave her child at daycare every day it better be for a job where she is making a difference. And how she's so afraid that if she does decide to stay home with the baby, she won't be cared for as well as she is at daycare, interacting and learning with other children.
It all came back to the expectations of others, and more importantly, the expectations she places on herself.
How many times have I heard someone in this community say: when I get my own child, I will never complain. When I finally get to be pregnant, I will never complain. But here's the truth: we will complain. Because it is hard.
I have a secret for you. I love champagne. And wine. But I really love champagne. And for the 8 weeks that I was actually pregnant, I missed it. And I complained. More than once. And I'm mad at myself for it. And if someone in the ali community heard me complaining, they might hate me for it.
The conclusion of our conversation was summed up with this: women can be mean. We are competitive and judgy and gossips. But women can be wonderful. We are supportive and compassionate and encouraging.
Why can we offer those things to others but not to ourselves? And when we know we can't always count on the kindness of others, we have to be kind to ourselves.
So that's the end of my preachy post. Be kind to others. Be kind to yourself.
And get ready to listen to me complain when I'm eventually pregnant again and can't have champagne. I love it.