Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Roads

I have tried to make a concerted effort on this blog to avoid just plain old ranting for ranting's sake (my husband would like me to add that, for the record, I make no similar effort in our day-to-day existence).

But, this week, I feel I absolutely must make an exception to this rule in order to rant copiously in your general direction on the pressing topic that is - JENNIFER ANISTON.

Just in case there is anyone out there who doesn't know (hi mom!) Jennifer Aniston is an American actress of limitless success, endless beauty and unknowable wealth. She is also, as unlikely as it may seem, a woman whom one is instructed to feel deeply sorry for on a regular basis because she is not married and does not have any children.

This is of particular interest to me being that, at present, I am Jennifer Aniston's opposite (one could argue in more ways than one, but let's not dwell on that point). What I mean is that I am currently married and have two children but my career, for lack of a better term, is what they call "in the shitter".

So while Jennifer Aniston represents to our collective imaginations...

DOOR NUMBER ONE: The successful career gal with a life full of martinis, shopping sprees, and general fabulosity (see also: Sex and the City) who is nonetheless haunted by the lack of children and home

...I linger instead behind...

DOOR NUMBER TWO: The hapless stay-at-home mom whose college degree and once-lofty career ambitions are now buried beneath piles of laundry, reruns of The Oprah Winfrey show, and the ceaseless demands of her perma-needy offspring.

Now, of course, there thousands of shades of grey between these black and white options. It's just that you wouldn't always know it from examining how the choices that today's women face are generally portrayed and perceived.

As I watch my friends struggle with the work/mom conundrum, I am struck by how every road has its own challenges. Before I met David I LOVED having a career. I enjoyed making my own money and was proud of my successes. At the same time, I admit that as long as I was single, I always felt somewhat haunted by the thought that without a husband and kids my life was missing something, without which it was difficult to think of myself as truly happy.

Then I got married and had kids and my career hit a brick wall and, as much as I adored my children, the longer I stayed home with them the more I became obsessed with the idea that "real" life was starting to pass me by as I sat home changing diapers, watching Baby Einstein videos, and cleaning barf out of my once well-coiffed hair.

This was underscored for me the other day when a friend from my old life called, filled with news from the working world. At the end of her long diatribe on life at the office she paused briefly to say, "Oh, I'm sorry, I haven't even asked how you are?" I replied that I was really busy and she replied with genuine confusion, "Busy doing what?" I reminded her about my two kids under two and she mumbled, "Oh, right...that" (the unstated implication being, "I thought you meant something real.....").

And, of course, being made to feel like what you've chosen to do with your life is deeply lame stings in the extreme. But, in my more rational moments (which can be few and far between considering the amount of sleep I am getting these days) I am able to realize that I am now living a life for which I waited several decades. I found a great guy and have two adorable kiddos. Looking back, if I'd known this life was waiting here patiently for me, I think I would have relaxed and tried to enjoy my life as a single working girl more than I managed to.

Because the truth is that life has phases. I bet Jennifer Aniston is actually pretty darn happy with her awesome life, and maybe someday she'll have kids and that will make her happy in a different way. And in the moments when I'm not actively trying to pull a Steven Slater, grab two beers, and take off down the escape chute of my entire existence, I have to admit that my own life is fairly awesome as well. Perhaps I'll even manage to head back to work one of these days and hopefully find new and rewarding things down that path as well.

But for the time being I'm going to enjoy living the life that is right in front of me.

Except for the part where I get vomited on. I'm never going to enjoy that part.