Monday, January 23, 2012
I wrote about having a daughter a little while ago, when I… uh… was having a daughter, or so I thought.About a week ago, we found out I was having another son. It was a strange feeling, as I am not sure whether I will have more children, or ever have a daughter. I thought a bit more about womanhood in light of your comments. What I came up with: Either gender, we are the first example to our children. Deep, huh?
But seriously, I'm wondering how we navigate gender- and the wounds we all have- with grace. I don't think I have more or deeper wounds than other South Africans, but I think both what I dreamt of doing with my life- and what I'm choosing to do now- are deeply intertwined with being a woman. Whether it's not asking for help around the house, or expecting that I need to be able to do certain things, or balance my life a certain way, or just getting upset when I don't measure up to those around me, or so I think (hospitality is one area where I feel really weak!).
A friend always dreamed of being a wife and mother, then found she hated being home with the kids (and couldn't stand sewing, another society standard in her circle). I always dreamed of being a neurosurgeon, but I find myself happy pottering around with plants (though probably not pottering with Noah all day) and have not yet had a knitting session that was too long. I feel like I'm doing a PhD on the side. We're all more than just one thing. Rather than being value judgements on the thing we're doing, I think there's always a tension between the dreams we have and reality, even when we get exactly our dreams. Like relationships, good dreams at the wrong moment aren't good. And coming back to parenting, in my experience our dreams are gendered- whether man or woman, whether I have reacted against society or with it, and whether my society is patriarchal or less so.
I phrased this in the last post in terms of "not having it all". By not having it all I don't mean giving up dreams or being content in really bad circumstances. Rather, I mean coming to peace with our broken histories and moving on, whether that means choosing to be ok staying home or choosing to be ok working, or some combination of the two. In the context of having children, where parenting is the fulfillment of a really deep longing, I mean that we should forego other deep longings in favor of really getting the benefit of one.
So I guess this is just a longwinded post about contentment, as one who is constantly pushing (any Wellesley readers in the house?). Contentment, particularly as parents, seems to a powerful step of maturity but sometimes gets a bad rap as "settling". I'm ok doing a little settling if it means I get to enjoy my healthy years.