This week I will be sharing a series of excerpts from the Introduction of my upcoming book. These first few paragraphs set the stage for Part One, which shares my personal journey to motherhood:
Throughout my childhood, I aspired to be a number of things. A housewife was never one of them. I grew up during the “second wave” of the feminist movement. A time when traditional female roles were being questioned. The conventional view of motherhood was being attacked. As a young girl and woman I was inspired, and greatly influenced, by the messages generated by that revolution.
I was not interested in the outdated June Cleaver kind of lifestyle. On the contrary, as I graduated from college and began my career I wanted to be the woman in the Enjoli commercial (if you are not familiar with this reference, you must go Google it now – it is a classic). I was going to do it all. Rise to the top of the ladder professionally and have the perfect family. I set off on a path to achieve my goals. I was often called a “feminist” during this period of my life, and accepted the label with pride.
As I grew older, my attitudes and ideals began to shift. I never envisioned quitting work to care for a child. I did come to the realization, however, that my career aspirations could possibly be at odds with my goals for a family. Looking around at my role models, the women I had been working hard to emulate, I realized their success had come at a cost, or so it seemed from my perspective. Either they had no children, or they had a family model that did not match what I wanted for myself.
My values underwent a major transformation. I decided to adjust my career goals. I no longer wanted the high-powered executive job, because it came at a price. I wanted to work hard, do my job well and go home to enjoy my family. Achieving balance became more important to me than shattering the elusive glass ceiling. And I was confident I would someday have a family. I never questioned that, even as I remained single into my late thirties.
Many people assume I made a conscious decision to put off motherhood. That I set it aside to focus on my career. I don’t believe that is the case. While it is possible committing to my career contributed to my not becoming a wife or mother earlier in my life, it was not something I ever did consciously. Or intentionally. I always wanted children, and I eventually became a mom at the age of forty.
I did not seriously consider being a stay-at-home mom until, with the end of my maternity leave looming, I realized I could not stand the thought of leaving my daughter. That turned my world upside down. I was unnerved. The decision was without a doubt the most difficult I have ever had to make. I have never agonized over anything so intensely. In the end, I chose to leave my career to care full time for my daughter.