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Woman to Woman

9 Aug

Because I Have A Vagina: My transition from “working” woman to a SAHM
I don’t think there is anything like pregnancy and motherhood to really expose the differences between men and woman (both biologically and socially). Sure, we all grow up learning about the glass ceiling, women being paid $0.70 to a man’s dollar, yada yada yada. (Apparently, in 2006, the Census Bureau says, the typical woman earned 77% of the typical man’s wage. Oooh, we’re gaining on ‘em, ladies!)

However, in my opinion, money is one of the more insignificant examples of why it sucks to have a vagina. Let’s start with marriage and having to decide whether or not to change your name. Of course tradition tells us ladies that if you really love your husband, you’d change your name to his. But what is glossed over is the sense of loss a woman has when/if she decides to change her name. For me, I had spent the last 20 years in school and had a new business and fresh law degree under my belt as my wedding day approached. I always knew I’d change my last name, but the thought of shedding what I considered to be my legacy, my past, my heritage, was a difficult concept to grasp. Everyone knew me by my maiden name. All the hard work I had put in at different jobs, meeting new people; I felt like all that would be wiped clean.

Then I had to sit down and consider my future career-wise. Having just graduated from law school, Mr. Bee and I decided that I should concentrate on my new career as a wedding planner (natural transition from law school, I know). This was an easy and difficult decision to make. I had just completed three years of grueling school to get my fancy piece of paper and a part of me wanted to put it to good use. But when I looked at our “family plan”, it just didn’t make sense for me to put in a few agonizing climbing-the-ladder years at a law firm or in public service, just to take 5-10 years off to raise our children. So I guess that decision came fairly easy too.

So now you’re married and you’re pregnant! Now it all sinks in. You mean that because I have a vagina I have to grow this thing in my belly (I love you, Bee!) for NINE MONTHS (oh, and FYI you non-mamas: Nine months really equals ten months in whacked out pregnancy math.) Then you get to push a 6-10+ pound baby out your baby hole and recover from that trauma quick enough to start breastfeeding. And let’s cross our fingers and hope that you don’t have any incontinence or any of the other fun “gifts” that pregnancy gives you. In the meantime, don’t forget to clean, cook, take care of your husband and, maybe if you find some extra time, take care of yourself a little too. Oh, and don’t forget losing all that baby weight you gained because, geez, if Jessica Alba can be a size negative triple-zero just two weeks after the birth of sextuplets, then you should be able to, too.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that men have huge pressures on them to work and support a family. And that can’t be easy. Especially when you’re married to someone with spending habits like mine (Sorry, honey).

But the impact of having children is so much less for a guy than a girl. The weight gain, the loss of any kind of attractive body (just say good bye to any sort of muscle tone in your abdomen), stretch marks…) And welcome to the world of worrying:

“Do we have enough diapers, wipes, formula, baby food, milk, clothes that fit the baby, books, learning toys? What I am going to make for breakfast, lunch, dinner? Did the baby have her bath tonight? Did I remember to brush her teeth? Did I read enough books to her today? Do we have enough clean sippy cups and do I have time to shower AND vacuum before the baby wakes up?…”

In the meantime, you get compliments from friends about what a great dad your husband is. And no doubt about it, he’s the best! That’s why I married him, duh. But when’s the last time that someone commented to my husband that I was a fantastic wife and mom because I watch/take care of Baby non-stop. All my husband has to do is take baby duty for a hour and he’s winning awards and cooing from all my non-mama friends. I get that not all husbands wake up with the baby in the middle of the night when you are nursing or offer you a full Saturday off without the baby (thank you, thank you, thank you, honey!!), but that’s just the kind of thing I would hope a dad would do to help a mom. Because, speaking on behalf of moms everywhere, I’m pretty sure our collective heads would explode if we didn’t have some time off once in a while. Right, ladies?

Then your husband (and family) (and friends) (and strangers) start asking about #2. Really? Seriously?! Even though it means more money spent, a husband/dad’s duties don’t really change much whether you have one or ten kids. But for a mom? That means that I will be bald from pulling my hair out even faster!

For me, #2 means that I most likely will have to quit my job. I started my company, my business, in 2003. Since then it’s grown through word of mouth alone and, although some times it gets to be a lot of stress and work, it really is my pride and joy. I love being my own boss. Luckily, I have a husband who is successful enough to support us with or without my paltry income. And Mr. Bee absolutely supports any decision I make regarding the company. But with our current plan, next summer I predict that I will be too full of Baby #2 to want to spend 10 hours on my feet after taking care of a toddler all week.

I could just take a sabbatical for a year and rev things up again in 2010, but that just seems really unlikely. The thought of having uninterrupted summers and all my Fridays and Saturdays free does make me do a little jig, but to give up my company, this baby of mine, does break my heart. Because I’m good at it. I really am. And if I give it up, it’s like it never happened. I’ll never win those awards I’m always striving for and never win. I just have to give up that dream.

And even if I close down the company, I’m already brainstorming other projects/companies/businesses to start. I just don’t know if I can stop being creative and controlling – the two things I do best!

When money isn’t the issue, how does a mom choose between spending more time with her babies and spending time as a business woman?

Song title: . Woman to Woman by Beverley Craven