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Careers & Motherhood: Are They Totally Incompatible? (W&F V)

When I wrote about the possibility of infertility, many of you said I was courageous for sharing my story. I'm grateful, and, as always, encouraged by your responses and kind words.

But can I be honest? This topic is way more scary to me.

It's scary because my fertility is something I have no control over - there is no shame for me in that, no regrets or if-onlys.

But my choices about career-building are exactly that - choices. I have agency in these decisions, and that agency opens me up to errors, fear, judgment, and so much more.

And where I stand - not quite a year into marriage, with two terms left in my masters degree, it's all a tangled bundle of thoughts and feelings and desires and uncertainty, and internal pressure, and offhand comments, and impossibility.

It's impossible to do it perfectly.

It's impossible to have everything I want.

It's impossible to defend my decisions to the world.

This creates a great deal of inner turmoil for me. It isn't simply about what others expect of me, though that certainly weighs in, but about what I want, what I think will fulfill me, what I'm capable of. And I don't have answers to those things. Can I be a mother and work full-time? I don't know. I don't doubt it's possible for all, or even many, women. But I doubt it for myself.

For me, the choice to try to become a mother means setting aside the possibility of a traditional career. It might happen down the road, but it might not. I don't see how, at this point, I can confidently say, "I'll do both!"

There is a part of me that feels I owe it to my foremothers, my sisters around the world, and myself, to build a career before a family. It's a door that's open to me, and it's not one that is/has been open to all women.

And of course, there is my age-old fear of not living up to my potential. This is the root fear.


I read an article in The Atlantic this past week about a man who chose to be the "lead parent" in his quite academic family. I recommend it (it's a long one).


I don't think there's an easy answer to this. I think the hard part is that I have to navigate it, as we each do, without being able to guarantee anything, and with the knowledge that the world we live in is full of judgement, and I cannot let others' expectations make my decisions for me.

I'm so thankful that my partner is 100% supportive, that he believes in my capabilities in all areas of life, and that whatever we do, we do together.

I don't have much more to say on this - all my thoughts are other peoples' stories. The friends who are going for both, the friends who have chosen one over the other, the friends still deciding and re-deciding how they want to shape their lives. I'd rather let you tell your own stories (hint, hint)! And have a dialogue.


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