I never really thought I would get married, not because I don’t believe in marriage or had serious relationships, but just because I’ve always focused heavily on my career. I always did well in school, and always knew that when I “grew up” I would work. My mom never worked. She was a stay-at-home mother, and was really awesome at it. She raised four girls, two of whom were born with disabilities and required much time and attention. Her work was her family, and I respected it, but never wanted it for myself. No one told me outright that as a woman I would be scrutinized if I did not have a significant other, settle down and take on the majority of domestic roles that are stereotypically expected of women. Granted, I push back plenty.
Now, peer pressure is not why I got married either. In fact, I met the man of my dreams. I started working in the real world (as a public interest attorney), I realized that I needed and wanted more in my life than just my work. He is everything I ever wanted in a partner and he respects that I work, and that I can’t “do it all.” But, he works too. We both work, we both have long commutes – over an hour and a half…each way! Sometimes he works longer hours than me, sometimes I work longer hours. Yet, despite it all, I’m the better cook (at least that is what he tells me). As a result, I tend to cook more nights than he does, I prepare food for us on the weekend for during the week, I clean our apartment, and buy random things that we need when we run out of them.
We live in New York, where the cost of living is out of the control. I would say that we both have respectable jobs that pay decently, but we aren’t loaded by any means. We are currently renting, but we want a home, a place that we can truly call our own. I really want a home because I want to feel settled, but there are other benefits including using our rent money towards a mortgage, having more space, being able to entertain, the list goes on. I don’t need a white picket fence per se, but having a home, a husband, starting a family, and having a great career is the epitome of the white picket fence to me. BUT… can I really have it all and put my best self forward while juggling it all? Some of my married friends are homemakers while their husbands work. Sometimes I feel like an outcast among them because I work. They ask me when I’m going to start having kids. I’ve thought about it, but I’m nervous because on the flip-side, I’ve known working mothers who will stay at work late, and take a painful call from their young children who miss them and just want them to come home, only to be rejected, again. I don’t envy either of these women. I don’t think any of it is easy.
I made a decision. I want my career and I want a family, but through the process I need to find the right balance. I know that know matter what I do, I will be judged. As a modern woman living in America, there’s almost no way I can’t be judged. There may be times when my job pulls me away from things that I need or want to do with my family and vice versa. However, as a perfectionist in an imperfect world, all I can do is try to attain the perfect balance for me. My goal, and hope, is to learn from others how they manage to balance it all, and share my own experiences along the way.