The sunlight filters in through the window and highlights your laughter as you eat salad with your friends.
Yes, you have a lunch break. And friends. You are a woman who has it all.
A career that you enjoy. That doesn’t feel precarious (at least not at the moment). You are lucky that your job challenges you and opens new avenues for advancement while at the same time remaining flexible and understanding when family stuff arises.
You’ve never felt the pressure when it comes to having kids. Never felt the squeeze as you debated whether work or staying home with the kids was the best option. Never tallied up the exorbitant cost of daycare and compared to your salary, to your benefits to see which came out on top.
You don’t have to worry that other colleagues are rocketing past you because they are able to put in the time and work that you are not. You don’t wonder if some of your teammates wish you could do more. If they do, that’s their business. What’s it matter to you?
Your children are adorable and a delight to be around. As you had planned while you were pregnant, you stuck to cloth diapering and breastfeeding. You and your partner tackled baby sign language with enthusiasm. You pureed vegetables that you boiled and roasted yourself for the baby and now cook healthy organic meals for your older child. She eats these healthy meals, fully accepting that what you make for dinner is what’s for dinner.
You tackled pumping at work with the first and the second and carried it on for the full year recommended by the World Health Organization. You provide carefully filled and labeled bottles to daycare every day (a daycare you carefully vetted against other area daycares with your selected list of questions that allowed you to weigh a list of options based on what they had to offer and not what they cost. You did not have to make a panicked decision after a ten minute conversation because otherwise the spot would be filled by the next family touring the place).
You wash and sanitize all bottle and pump parts as directed. And replace them after the allotted amount of time. After a day of answering emails and taking meetings while pumping, you measure and label, then scrub and dry the dirty set after washing the dishes for the healthy meal you prepared but before you cycle through a last load of laundry and fold what has just come out of the dryer. None of this makes you feel like screaming until your voice gives out.
You have a partner who supports your decisions and picks up his half of the work. He supports all the work and decisions you make for the children and admires the career path you have chosen, fully bought into whatever you need to do to make it work. You try not to think about the couples where both parents work because they can’t afford not to or the single mothers who have no such support system and have to grind through and find a way to make it work. In order to have it all, you must believe that others can also have it all and that there are not pressures at play that make it impossible for some.
About that loving partner. You make coparenting decisions that you both agree on. You are able to talk through your problems with each other and are so lucky that at the end of each day, you still feel that giddy romantic feeling you did when you first started dating. No crabbing at each other over cold takeout pizza after the kids are in bed before falling exhausted down on a pair of sheets that should have been washed a week ago and barely mustering the energy to touch each other on the hand.
You sleep through the night. You are able to wake up early enough to get something productive done. Each day consists of at least ten minutes of meditation and then finding time to either do yoga and/or go on a run or pursue some other type of cardio. You also manage to fit in a hobby. After all, just because you’re a mother doesn’t mean you’re not still you.
Days are portioned out and unfurl like they are supposed to. You projects and tasks at work don’t get delayed. You don’t forget to bring pump parts with you when a manager decides it’s time to start going into the office again a few days a week. You don’t sit at your desk and worry that someone else you barely know is nurturing your children during the day. You don’t sit at your desk and worry that you enjoy this quiet time away from your children too much and that says something about your suitability to be a mother.
You don’t scroll through social media mindlessly but you do find the time to craft thoughtful posts updating your family and friends about your life. You are able to stay up to date on the latest television shows and definitely know what Ted Lasso and Squid Game are.
You read and listen to interesting podcasts and create playlists to fit your mood and read to your children and buy them STEM games and ensure they can express themselves creatively and also say basic requests in Spanish and find ways to creatively turn even basic tasks into fun games to avoid whining and boredom.
Sometimes, yes, a kid gets sick or you get sick or you suddenly realize everyone is expecting you to host for the holidays this year and the house will really need a deep clean for that to happen and did you ensure the kids will be fully vaccinated by that point and you need to create a menu on top of the other meal planning and preparation you do and how will that layer in to ensure you have work and yoga and cooking and bottle cleaning and cleaning and running and reading and a touch of television and sleeping enough all while ignoring that underlying tension that we are living on a dying planet in a dying democracy and maybe it’s impossible to find any shred of happy when the systems are crumbling around you–
You take a deep breath. Your heart rate slows. All that practiced meditation really comes in handy!
You’re amazing. You’re incredible. You’re a woman who has it all. And the best part is, anyone can do it! We made it, ladies.