As I sit here in front of my computer, I'm surrounded by couch cushions drying out from the direct hit they took this morning when my child projectile vomited all over them. It was an unexpected and unfortunate event that changed the course of my day. That same child is currently snuggled in my lap as we sit on the floor, still and calm, entranced by her third episode of Daniel Tiger. We're practically stuck together from the heat radiating around us. The AC decided, inconveniently, to break sometime last night and my living room feels hotter than the sun. The smell of puke lingers in the stale air, and my nostrils burn, and my head is pounding from another night of restless sleep. And yet, I am grateful this is the only place I need to be right at this very moment because this is the only place I want to be: glued to my sweet, sick girl, hanging out in our PJs. I am a stay-at-home mom and I have zero obligation to be anywhere else at this moment. I chose this life, so in a way, what Sarah Silverman said about motherhood is true. But here's where it's not: I'm a mom with a career and I feel like I have a pretty full life. I planned for this form of mothering. The all-consuming, round-the-clock, no-time-for-anything-else form of mothering. It's what felt right for me.
It's not a glamorous life, this stay-at-home mom gig. It's also not for everyone. So, there's something to be said for a woman who stands up and declares what is and is not right for her. In a recent tweet by comedienne Sarah Silverman on her choice not to become a mother, she said:
I have had to decide between motherhood and living my fullest life and I chose the latter.
Almost immediately after she tweeted such a personal and reflective thought, what Silverman said has garnered her negative attention for reasons I can't quite fathom. Personally, I applaud someone who recognizes the difficulty in doing both, knows their limits, and yields to their instincts. Will Silverman ever actually know if she could have successfully handled both? Obviously not. Maybe she could have. Maybe she would have blazed a trail for how to juggle it all and make it look effortless. But I suspect she didn't want to take that chance. And that's OK. It's her life to live.
There are working mothers who are offended that Silverman would even hint at the notion a woman can't have it all. But Silverman never actually said those words. She merely said she, as an individual, couldn't find a way to have it all. And as a mom who chose to stop working, I agree with her.
If I were somehow able to juggle it all, I'd live in constant fear of tripping and dropping one of those balls.
Every single day I think about how grateful I am that I don't have to be anywhere else. If I were working full time, outside the home, then the events that transpired this morning would have added another element of stress, panic, and chaos to an already difficult situation. Who would have stayed home with our child? Who would have stripped the couch cushions and cleaned up while rushing to get ready for work? Who would have felt guilty and conflicted about calling in sick or not calling in sick and instead finding a sitter for the sick child? That pressure isn't for me. I wouldn't be able to successfully juggle the task of both. And if I were somehow able to juggle it all, I'd live in constant fear of tripping and dropping one of those balls.
Silverman choosing to follow a path that works for her in no way implies that it's the only path to success or happiness. There is no one-size fits all answer to this ongoing debate of "can you have it all?"
I'm certainly not inclined to say that women can't have it all. But that is very dependent on what someone's idea of having it all actually is. This is not a universal definition. To pick apart Silverman for her personal feeling on this subject isn't supporting of one another as women. And women shouldn't feel defensive of their choices just because someone else may not agree with them or their approach. Silverman choosing to follow a path that works for her in no way implies that it's the only path to success or happiness. There is no one-size fits all answer to this ongoing debate of "can you have it all?"
I am more sensitive and aware of those around me because I am tasked with raising and teaching these children to be the best versions of themselves that they can be. I am stressed, at times I feel too entrenched in motherhood, occasionally my identity feels misplaced, and I worry about what the future holds for me after they're grown, but I feel a connection to my children and my husband on a level I didn't know existed prior to forming this little family unit.
I would disagree with the idea that there is a choice between motherhood and your fullest life, though. I feel like my life is quite full — and full of experiences Silverman will likely never experience as someone who's choosing not to have children. I am fully engaged in the lives of these little people I helped to create. I get to see the world through their eyes. I am more sensitive and aware of those around me because I am tasked with raising and teaching these children to be the best versions of themselves that they can be. I am stressed, at times I feel too entrenched in motherhood, occasionally my identity feels misplaced, and I worry about what the future holds for me after they're grown, but I feel a connection to my children and my husband on a level I didn't know existed prior to forming this little family unit. They have taught me a lot about myself and becoming a mother has lead me down a path of writing, a passion I didn't realize existed prior to having children. My children are my home, my people, and I wouldn't trade this complex experience for anything.
Silverman is just one of many people on the planet with an opinion, and instead of feeling slighted or offended by a celebrity for her personal observation, we should focus on living our lives to the fullest, whether we choose to work, parent, or do both.