I’m a 27 year-old female with a 15 month-old toddler by my side and a 13 week-old baby growing in my body.
I graduated high school in 2006 with a 4.0 GPA first of my class of nearly 1,000 students. I received several academic awards, got a 32 ACT score, and tested 5/5 on AP Calculus, AP Psychology, and AP Biology. (Bear with me.)
But God called me to be a missionary, so I abandoned any course of action towards a secular math or science degree and pursued religion.
I spent the next 9 years becoming a missionary. I graduated college in 2010 with a religious degree also at the top of my class, but instead of continuing in academia, I sold everything “for God” and moved overseas for missions work.
Then I became an atheist.
And then I became a mom.
Both of these last two events changed everything. Due to the former, I feel like I am now evaluating my life as a pre-adolescent would, but I am now 15 years too late. “What do I want to be when I grow up?” Completely unrealistic. That ship has sailed long ago. Atheism has opened my life to new possibilities while completely overwhelming and depressing me at the elusiveness of them.
The latter event, on the contrary, closed new possibilities. I don’t know if all children are like this, but our little girl, from the moment she was born, has been a complete parasite of my time and attention. That word may sound harsh, and I suppose at times it feels that way, but I truly do adore her. The problem isn’t that I focus on her but rather how much I do. For the first 12 months of her life, she required, honestly, 24 hours of my attention every single day. Dozens of only slightly-sipped cups of tea and coffee mugs littered our home, a testament of the mere seconds I would get to myself to enjoy them. That time has only lessened slightly and only at night in the past 3 months because she now no longer requires to be touching me while sleeping. Still in the same bed, I can actually use both of my hands (as I am right now), so I can’t blame her for being unable to write this blog. Although it is 4 am. I should be sleeping.
My days consist entirely of investing into this child. I cook and clean only in the very few moments she’ll let me. Otherwise I’m holding her, feeding her, playing with her, taking her outside, reading to her, entertaining her in any way I can. There is zero… ZERO time for self-development.
My husband takes over the childcare and I can finally invest much needed time into our new start-up business. I can add “entrepreneur” to the short list of things that I am right now. And although it is challenging in all the right ways (never had a mind for business before, so it’s worth it to me to learn and grow in this area), it uses none of that science part of me I spoke to earlier.
“Eve,” and by Eve I mean nature, gave me the biologically mechanisms along with the psychological urges to grow, feed, and take care of the children I long to and have produced.
But “Eve” also gave me the intellect and drive to do something, be something, more than what my physiological gender demands of me.
Making mac and cheese, moping up squished noodles off the floor, rubbing home-made diaper rash cream on a freshly-cleaned poopy bum, and hoping to whatever I hope to that I can have an extra 5 minutes to wash the dishes in the sink to clear my mental insanity from a messy house….
I. Just. Feel. Like. I’m. Made. For. More. Than. This. Please don’t be offended by that statement. I’m just being vulnerable.
But then, when I think about the alternatives of what it would take to pursue a career or education or… anything extra than what I’m barely pulling together to get through now? I get completely heartbroken at the thought of leaving my littles for more than a couple hours a day.
But, let’s assume that I didn’t have this additional emotional struggle. Let’s assume I could cope with being away from them. And let’s assume we could somehow pull together the time and finances to make it happen. (All of which seem insurmountable at the moment.) Even if none of those things applied, both my children and I would suffer, even if in unseen ways, because of the evolutionary advantage that has set mothers and babies to be together during their first two years of life. We can figure out ways to cheat the system, but we are competing against millions of years of evolutionary formation of our and our children’s biology and psychology. Moms and babes. Our bodies are seriously “made” for each other.
So much irony. The very science my brain wants to pursue is the same science that created that need to pursue it along with the need to stay home with the children that it gave me the desire to want to produce.
A woman faces a great battle ahead of her if she desires to pursue both a career and a family. It can be done, supposedly, and I admire women who do it. But I feel a great inner struggle in figuring out any way for that to be the case for me.
A woman wants to reap the benefits later in life of having invested in a career as well as the benefits of having invested in building a family. But… here’s the kicker: For her to enjoy either later in life, both need to have been pursued early in life. Let’s be honest, I can’t really pursue a degree in brain surgery anymore, and I’m only 27! It wouldn’t even be realistic to think about going back to school for another 3 years (due to motherhood), and by the time I re-learned my dusty rusty high school skills, finished pre-reqs, medical school, residency??? Not to mention medical bills?? I’d be in my 50’s before I started! On the other hand, if I did it the other way around and waited until I finished schooling to have children, I’d risk repeating my mother’s plight in having severely complicated births due to her age, let alone the fact that I’d then have to face the big question of whether I’d want to actually practice the career I worked so hard for or be home with the kids during their first couple years of life.
The curse of Eve ladies and gentlemen.