|Maria Montessori and son Mario|
The choices women have had to make astound me. I am so grateful for those who came before me who fought for the right for women to work at all, to participate in the academic, intellectual, political world that was threatened by them and unwelcoming to them, yet had a deep impact on their lives. And, I consider the sacrifices and choices made that get us closer and closer to "having it all".
We stayed at the beach with my parents last weekend. The house we stayed at is my mom's friends' home, and it's beautiful. They have expensive taste, nice things, a home designed by them and for them, and the ability to travel. And they have no kids. This is a discussion my mom and I have frequently: what about those people that we love who choose not to have kids? How much are they missing out on? How much are we missing out on? Do we feel bad for each other? For my mom, the conversation also involves a reassurance that in the future, those friends who chose a non-kid life will probably come back to me, and we will not have lost each other for lack of common interests. (Currently, I feel I have lost some of these people for various kid-related reasons, including but not limited to the challenge that some are trying to decide, embrace or accept a kid-free life, or actually trying in private to have a kid, without the prying eyes and opinions of their community. My current child-absorbed life does not help them on their path. but that's another story.)
Overall, though, I've been pondering the women who have made some amazing things happen in the world, who have traveled, championed a cause, written books, created shows, flipped houses, studied endlessly, lived luxuriously, contributed to peace and science, etc. and I realize that most don't have children. Don't get me wrong, my life's work involves raising this amazing son who lights up my heart and will go on to do so for others, but it's more of a personal victory than a public one. Again, I remind myself that with one child instead of many, these endeavors are not impossible, just slightly trickier. There was a time I pondered whether I would choose to be a mother, and it sounds silly to me now, as if I ever had the ability to not let this being into my life, to change and bend me, to teach me and form me into a better version of myself. But my important work is just beginning, and I still work to balance between toddler poop talk and academic rhetoric. I love that I am both of these, and I love all those who came before me, who struggled to achieve a balance and a space for themselves in this world, thus allowing me to have choices to make.