Sunday, February 03, 2008

On being ambitious and having a family

I have been thinking about writing this for a couple of days. And then I ran into Aspazia's post commenting on the Dear Cary letter from Salon about mom identity crisis. Let's just say I can relate.

Those of you who have met me personally or who are long time readers will know that I've had numerous issues with Geeky Boy and school. I've been reassured this is a boy thing and that with enough support and prodding, he will eventually figure it out. That doesn't help my anxiety at this moment, though. I constantly think that if I just stayed home, this would not be a problem. And last night over dinner, I asked Geeky Boy what his ideal education would look like and he answered, "Homeschooling. Having you teach me." We were talking about how none of us likes being lectured at and how learning shouldn't be about that and he said, "Well, then, my teachers are doing it wrong." Sigh. I know.

If I just identified myself as a mom, I probably never would have returned to work and I might indeed have homeschooled, or at the very least, spent more time talking to his teachers about what's going on, or researching alternative schools or something. Or, if I didn't care about my work, my career, I'd take more time off to manage all of this. Managing a family takes a lot of work, more work than a two-career couple can really manage. Both Mr. Geeky and I care about our work to the point of working at night and on weekends a fair amount. What that means is that laundry doesn't get done, groceries don't get bought, homework doesn't get followed up on, things fall apart.

I have ideas about doing things careerwise and they all involve sacrifices for my family and so sometimes I outright dismiss them. Moving, spending a lot of time outside of work, or financial sacrifices. These are all things that seem easier to manage if you don't have to think about its effects on children or partners.

The irony is, I'm a firm believer in the "put your own oxygen mask on first" philosophy of parenting. Complete personal sacrifice isn't good for parent or child. However, I have a hard time just saying, "To hell with how this affects the kids, I'm doing it." Every choice I make I have to think about the rest of the family. And sometimes, quite frankly, that's paralyzing. To the writer of the Dear Cary letter, I say, it doesn't matter whether you identify yourself as a mom or not, it's going to affect everything from here on out. And I have to say, at least from my perspective, it's something that affects women more than men. How I feel about that is too complicated for a blog post. Maybe the rest of you can fill in the blanks.