Wonder Woman: Work Life Balance
I have this theory about Generation X women. We want it all—the career and the family—and we want it more than any other previous generation. We were the first generation born to working mothers. Before our mothers, most women stayed home and raised children—that was their job. But not our mothers, our mothers were the ones who burned their bras, took the Pill, tied themselves to trees (yep, my mom), and clawed their way up the ladder at work. It’s not that having a family wasn’t important to them, it was that for many, it became secondary to their work.
I remember seeing my mother get dressed up for work with high heels and a brown leather trench coat (that I, to this day, wish I had). I was in awe of her platinum blonde hair and jewelry and the way she smelled of Cinnabar. The nurturing and nesting came from granny—not mom.
My story is not so unique. Most women I know have memories of being a latch-key kid. Microwave dinners or the Schwann’s man was dinner. This indelibly has affected women of my generation.
We watched commercials like “Enjoli” and were programmed to believe that a REAL woman “brings home the bacon and fries it up in a pan”. That’s a helluva lot of pressure. This manifested itself in me as a Type A Personality with OCD-P tendencies. I am the one who had to be the Girl Scout troop leader, cook a meal worthy of the cover of Southern Living, and be on my A Game at work. I felt like I could do it all and decided it was time to take on a new challenge and go back to school for my Master’s degree. My daughter was seven at the time.
It never occurred to me that I couldn’t do it all—room mom, super teacher, straight A student, and the resident Martha Stewart in my family. It never crossed my mind that the decision to focus on my career would come with a high price. The price I paid was my husband. Unbeknownst to me at the time, (I was too busy cooking meals for the week on Sunday and studying for my classes, grading papers, and being Super Mom), my then-husband was cheating.
To this day, I don’t know how long it went on, how many times or how many women, but it doesn’t matter. What I do know is that I didn’t let that derail me from my goal. I finished my Master’s degree with a 4.0. His cheating on me didn’t define me, it defined him. It told me who and how he really was and I feel blessed every day to be happily divorced.
There’s no denying that choosing to go back to school and focus on my career took a great deal of time. I don’t know if it was the catalyst for his behavior or if that was what he said to hurt me. In all honesty, I don’t care. It was worth it. I am in a job that I love where I help under-resourced children successfully graduate from high school. Being a single mother is both challenging and liberating. I feel like Wonder Woman when she twirls from her black suit and sensible shoes into her ass-kicking boots and bracelets. I am living my life on my terms and yes, I’ve got my heels on.