I read a couple of articles in the Atlantic recently – this piece by a man discussing the ups and downs of being the primary parent while his wife works the high-power job – and the previous (connected) article, written by his wife, called Why Women Still Can’t Have it All. They’re both way too long and too intense for me to adequately parse here, but there’s so much that resonated for me as a parent, as a single parent, and as a resident of Washington, DC, a city where I see power-couple dynamics in play on a regular basis.
Frankly, I already knew I couldn’t have it all. I did have most of it. For awhile there in the middle of the last decade, I was from outward appearances having it all on a much larger scale than I’d grown up with. Of course during much of that time I was uneasy and waiting for the other shoe to drop. When it did – the market crash in 2007-2008, followed by a deeply ugly divorce – I didn’t spend too much time wallowing because I was too busy just trying to keep the kids and myself afloat. Thanks to the kindness of friends, strangers, and life itself, I did. Now I approach every day with an early morning meditation on gratitude. Yeah, I lost some stuff, but now that the dust has settled I’ve gained some stuff too — freedom and peace of mind being high on my list.
So every day I go to work (for which I am grateful), a job which is very computer-intensive, which has resulted in my wanting to spend approximately zero time on the computer during evenings and weekends. Then the twins Hecate and Buckethead turned thirteen (can you believe it?! It seems like just yesterday I was on here, writing about them shellacking themselves in vaseline and baby powder during that one terrible naptime) and started seventh grade two weeks ago and it is Kicking. My. Ass. The jump to middle school involves a significant step up in the quality and quantity of homework, combined with a step down in coddling and reminders from teachers. Yeah, I know their homework isn’t my job, but while we get systems in place and figure out how this is going to work… it’s so frustrating. Right now I feel like my waking hours are taken by two things: work and homework.
Other people’s lives can look so fantastic from the outside, can’t they? Several close friends were made via my older batch of children, and those friends are becoming empty nesters. One just sold her house in the ‘burbs and bought a glam pied-à-terre close to her downtown office, since much of her time is spent traveling to Europe for work. Another just up and moved to a coastal town and spends her days selling antiques and walking her dog on the beach with friends she made in yoga class. I read (Now Smell This) Angela Sanders’ recent report on her Paris trip and sighed all the way through it, before turning right around and reading it again.
These people are doing it – writing, and thinking, and drinking dry martinis in interesting bars on their travels while wearing chic clothing. This weekend I got the laundry done and my son off successfully to the year’s first scouting trip, and did some cooking, and that’s good and right, but it ain’t scouring the flea market at Clignancourt. I haven’t touched my paints and brushes in months, and, uh, we can see how well the creative writing is going.
I need to get over myself. In the meantime… what do you do when you’re feeling stifled for creativity, or not living (as I think Oprah puts it) your best life?
Next week – actual perfume review! Because I sniffed something interesting at the last minute but didn’t have time to write it up.