I started reading More magazine off and on a year ago attracted by the substance its title indicated. That it features women 'of a certain age' on its covers and speaks to them in its editorial made it all the more of interest. This month included an article in the memoir section by Krista Bremer called Libya: What I wore to the Revelation. In it she talks about her visit there several years ago to meet her in-laws and the culture clash and embrace she experienced. Towards the end she reflects on the gaggle of women whose close confines she remained in for the greater portion of her trip, I'll spare writing out the whole thing but these are the lines I found myself lingering over:
They would never experience the freedoms I enjoyed...They would never negotiate six weeks' maternity leave with a boss who viewed that arrangement as generous, or leave their tiny babies with a stranger for eight hours while they sat in an office across town, taking breaks to pump breast milk in the employee bathroom....They would never know the persistent sense of inadequacy or the creeping exhaustion that comes from doggedly chasing the elusive dream that women can be everything at once: sexy and youthful, independent and financially successful, extraordinary mothers and wives. And yet during my time in Libya I missed this chase most of all: the working, driving, shopping and exercising, the exhilarating freedom to pursue my endless desire for more.
I'm not on board with the cloistered and controlled lifestyle of the women she describes but in reading her liberation speak last line I find myself thinking...really? I'm not so eager to board the attainment trip she's talking about either. I never anticipated the impact my maternity leave would have on my outlook when it came to the firm grip I had previously maintained in the rat race. The complete disconnect the time away from life as I formally knew it left me with a louder hum of hmmmms. I do not miss the chase and I've seriously questioned my idea of 'more'.
I can't just stumble off the track entirely, or at least let me say I chose not to. What I am doing is resisting. A resistance that is at times silent, exhilarating, painful, isolating, empowering and frightening in its shifts of what supported my sense and need for security all in an attempt to find a balance I can live with.
There are many things about our society that, in my experience so far, have proven support of families in all their forms is wanting, especially mothers. That said our society does stand apart in at least one diminishing but hopefully not dying distinction and that is the freedom and choices we have access to which allow us to more easily than others attain the lives we want to live.
I embrace that freedom and am chasing it intensely.