Dear Intelligent Advice,
There’s been a lot of talk at the moment about women ‘having it all’; ‘it all’ meaning a career, a husband and family. I’m a 38 year old woman who is also a successful partner in a law firm, and recently my boyfriend proposed to me. We both really want to have children quite soon, and I’m starting to think – will I be stretched too thin as a lawyer and a mom? Should I quit my job, or can women really ‘have it all’?
Wants it All
Response: [adviser logged in PlathticallyPerfect]
Dear Wants it All,
Navigating the murky waters of indecision is something I would describe as one of the unfortunate constants of life, as once you have made a decision to do one thing or another, you have sealed yourself off from all the potential lives you might have lived, and selves you might have been.
Anxiety over these critical decisions has been labelled by some as psychologically neurotic, but it seems to me to be the natural state, especially for a woman, as once she chooses the life that society quite unsubtly edges her towards, her ability to engage in other pursuits recedes from her, as though on a boat drifting further and further away on a current.
I am talking, of course, about the binds of marriage and the terrifying eventuality of motherhood. To be a woman is to be marooned on a tiny, isolated island, enclosed in the small world of caregiver and dutiful wife. These choices cannot be undone, and as such, as you see the faces of all the others you could have been floating away into the distance, constant courage is required in the decision to remain alive.
What do we do, therefore, in the face of such societally pre-arranged imprisonment? Is it enough to choose an alternative path, when womanhood restricts you on all fronts, when life itself is so perpetually limiting?
To your question, therefore, I say, no – a woman cannot ‘have it all’, she can only have a tiny slice of one kind of life that neither fulfils her nor excites her, keeping her subdued as she grows weak and dull.
I recommend you choose neither your career nor the husband, and instead run away. This way, you have not made any decision, and until the other paths of your life all close over, you still have your freedom. Otherwise you will live bound by the shackles of marriage and will awake one day to find that he is lavishing his attentions on other women. This is the world in which we live, and from which it seems there is only one possible escape.
The Dark Thing Sleeps Within