For the past four months, my priorities have included: playing with my one-year-old, Atticus, growing a fetus, laying in the sun, and preparing freezer meals for the time said fetus is born. That’s it. Next week, I return to full-time university study and also my university job (teaching tutorials/grading for a first year class). Baby #2 is due three weeks before classes finish and five weeks before exams commence. Needless to say, I’m a bit apprehensive. There is something in me, though, that tells me ‘this is normal’ and ‘all women do this’. I feel like as women, we have something to prove…that having babies does not and should not ‘interfere’ with our lives.
I think it comes down to this: I have been raised to believe that working women are selfish. If a woman’s work is so important to her, she shouldn’t have babies. Further, if she can’t take care of the babies herself and work, she shouldn’t work. Obviously, all the pressure is put on women and not men for multiple societal reasons. The thing is, it’s not just men, but women also putting the pressure on each other. Sure, I do feel like I need to perform at my normal perfectionist level this term all while birthing a child and taking care of a second one (with loads of help from my amazing full-time working husband, I might add). However, it’s women like me who do not admit to this actually being a struggle that silently condemns other women to feel like they could or should be doing so much more. We fear that if we admit that we need help, that we will look weak or worst of all….like bad mothers. The truth is, there is a lot in that old proverb “It takes a village to raise a child”. Whether we continue to work or not, we need help. Raising a child is a big job. It has taken a long time for me to not just realize, but admit all of this. Even after this realization, it’s hard to not feel like a bit of a failure for starting Atticus at daycare next week-regardless of the fact that it’s ONE day a week. It’s support I need and other mothers need…but also we need honesty. We need other mothers to come alongside of us and say “this is hard” and “I need help too”. It’s the silence that is giving voice to our own self-destructive inner-monologues telling us we’re not ‘enough’.