Everyone, I imagine, has their own unique set of pressures in life. I’ve come to realize that I’ve been under a few of them myself for the past 36 years. Granted, maybe the pressure was more of my own making than anything else, but it was there, regardless. In the olden days of my parents and grandparents, it was the men in the world who were the primary money-makers in families. It was all on the man’s back to be sure the family was cared for from a financial perspective. Perhaps the wife provided a supplemental income, but it’s been a primary role of the husband. However, I, as a woman today, so deeply relate to this pressure carried by the family’s financial caretaker. For so long, with my husband having had three back surgeries over the course of five years early in our marriage, and unable to work the way he would have liked to in order to relieve some of the pressure from my back (pun intended), I took on my career, full force. I fully believed that if something happened to me and my job, my children would be on the street. While I willingly took on this role, those years did take their toll on me.
Some may think it’s the pressure of the work required by the job itself that’s so stressful. For me, the work came relatively easily. It’s the personal aspect of things that becomes stressful. Thinking of the possibility of my children not having what they need tears me up. It’s what drove me to continue through the years. It’s what drove me to acquiring two college degrees at the same time as being a wife, mother, full-time business woman. It drove me to strive to be so much better than any ‘man’ I worked with that there could be no question about who would get the promotion. I became a group manager and earned a six-figure salary before I had a four-year college degree. This was virtually unheard of in the company where I worked. Everyone reporting to me as their manager was more formally educated than I. Talk about pressure to prove my worth.
Add to that, the pressure of feeling the judgment of other women who believe no ‘mother’ should be so deeply involved in a career instead of at home taking care of her babies. Do folks seriously believe I wouldn’t have chosen to stay at home with a houseful of babies if given that choice? I didn’t feel I had a choice, and I also believed that my children were in good hands with their father in my absence, however painful that separation may have been from my own selfish viewpoint. I believed someone had to do it, so I did it. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t feel the pressure.
In retrospect, there is so much that I have seen and learned because of my career. I traveled the country routinely and often by air, conducting business for my corporate ‘bosses.’ In the beginning it was glamorous and so much fun, I have to say. I’ve always been up for a good challenge, and a challenge this definitely was. However, as time went on, it became obvious that so much is given up in order to gain all of that ‘glamour.’ I made it to as many baseball games and school programs as I could, but certainly not all of them. These are my biggest regrets, but did I really have a choice?
Are there other women out there that have the same regrets? Would you make different decisions, if you knew what you know now, or would you do it all over again? My children are grown and productive citizens of the world in their own right at this point. I believe I would have to do it all over again, given the same situation, regardless of the hormonal ‘mommy guilt.’ Am I delusional? Perhaps.