The Story Women Don’t Always Tell….
The idea for this blog has been a long time in the making. It all started about four years ago when an editor of mine at a major online media company moved over to one of the country’s largest circulation women’s magazines and asked me if I might be interested in blogging periodically about “marriage and relationships.” She couldn’t have hit me at a better time. The self-employed mother of a two-year-old at the time with a spouse who had recently retired from the military to be a full-time dad, I was delighted by the idea of getting paid to vent.
But the deal fell through, as they so often do in the media world, and I shrugged and moved on. The idea, however, of creating a forum for women to really talk about life as we know it (as opposed to life as we think we’re supposed to know it) stuck with me. How many magazines, web sites, or blogs are really and truly honest about what it’s like to balance work and family, to raise children, to stay married through thick and thin? Sure, they offer loads of advice on all these topics like how to get your baby to sleep through the night (as if you have the patience of Job), how to make time for yourself by sweetly decorating the corner of a room and sitting there every afternoon to drink chamomile tea, and how to advance your career by learning to play golf with the guys. But seriously, do you buy this stuff?
Yeah, you do. We all do. That’s why we all think we’re abnormal when we finally just leave the baby that’s been wailing for five hours straight safely in the crib and run out on the front porch to cry or when we come home from work and make a martini instead of hot tea. There is something brutal about the fantasy world we create in our heads, especially when we can’t live up to it. I remember when a dear friend of mine called me on the phone one afternoon. The mother of a newborn who worked a more than full-time job in the high stress corporate world said to me, “Debbie, I see these happy families having picnics together, and everybody is smiling and having fun. I want that. Why can’t I have that??” And so I had to break the news: “It’s not real, ” I said. “They’re just as screwed up as you are. They’re faking it.”
And it’s true. But we don’t talk about these things except with our most intimate friends and sometimes not even then. The result is that we feel isolated, inadequate, and guilty for failing to be the perfect mothers, the perfect wives and lovers, the perfect executives, the perfect housekeepers, the perfect CEOs of life. Everybody else is doing it. Why can’t we?
Hence, this blog. I’ve spent countless hours over lunch, on the phone, over e-mail and text commiserating, complaining, and problem solving with women who all say the same things: Being a parent is hard, and sometimes I wonder why the hell I ever had kids. My husband doesn’t understand or support me. I feel like my career has no meaning. I thought life would be more than this. I never thought life would be this crazy. I’m exhausted. I have no time for myself. All I do is work and sleep (and not enough). But I have everything–how come I’m not happy?
The reality is life is messy. It’s messy for everybody. And if you think your life is perfect, you’re probably ingesting illegal substances. It really is okay to be imperfect, and sometimes it’s even fun–once you learn to laugh about it, once you learn to forgive yourself, once you learn the truth.
So for all my excellent women friends who have shepherded me through everything from writing a book to having a baby, this blog’s for you.