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You are what you watch

24 Dec

I feel like I’ve been rather whiny lately. I mean, supposedly it’s understandable but I’m not usually a whiny person so this whole “daily post about crappy stuff and revelations” thing is getting a bit tiring. So I’m going with a ranty analysis today.

I’ve been sharing this blog with friends. Not everyone, but people who are important to me, and some that I haven’t been in touch with for a while.

And the responses I’ve been getting are amazing.

Here’s the thing: I am very lucky. I have a lot of friends. Most of them I’ve known for years. Sometimes we lose touch for long periods of time, but they are those sorts of friendships that you know are always going to be there.

So the reactions I’ve been getting have been incredibly loving and supportive, but more surprisingly, a lot of them have been telling me that even though they aren’t going exactly through what I’ve been going through, they can relate to my struggle.

It’s funny – they almost feel guilty about saying that. As in – “I know what I’ve been through isn’t as hard as what you’re going through…”

But they really shouldn’t. Just the fact that they relate actually makes me feel a bit more, well, I guess normal is the word.

Most of the people who are saying this are people my age – as in – 30. I read somewhere about people these days having a “quarter life crisis”. perhaps this is it.

The one thing that keeps coming up – especially with my female friends is this careerist vs family struggle.

I’m actually only the second of my close girl friends to be married. I have more single friends than I do married friends, and none of my close friends have children.

20 years ago this would be unthinkable. Today, I really and truly think this is becoming a cause for turmoil and confusion for a lot of women.

I spent most of my 20’s living by a fairly feminist doctrine. Marriage was barely on my radar – let alone kids. It always seemed like a possibility in the distant future, but nothing even close to a realistic option until I met and fell in love with Schmerson.

Women in their late 20’s and early thirties – or at least my friends – who I admit come usually from well-to-do, highly educated families – are – in my opinion – getting smacked upside their heads by their biological clocks.

We were raised in a post-feminist generation. Ally McBeal, Buffy Summers, Veronica Mars, Elle Woods, and Rory Gilmore were our role models. Yes, sometimes those chicks got the guy. But you never saw Buffy thinking about a wedding. She was too busy kicking vampire ass. Veronica Mars in a wedding dress? I think not. Heck, going even further back, even Kelly Taylor told Dylan and Brandon “I choose me” back in the day.

I could spend hours making pop-culture reference upon pop-culture reference. Lord knows I love that. But I’ll spare you all and try (somehow!) to get to a point here.

I honestly do believe we are – on a lot of levels- a product of the pop culture that we consume.

Our fantasies are based on the ideals fed to us by the flickering images we watched on screens.

Just like every woman fantasized about being Donna Reed in the 50’s, I’m sure that the over achieving Rory Gilmores, Joey Potters, and yes, even Cher Horowitzes I saw flickering on screens for so many years made an impression on me.

To make matters “worse” – I minored in women’s studies in college.

And just in case not enough fuel was added to the fire, like a lot of my friends, my mother was – most of the time – a housewife.

So I rebelled – all of my 20’s were spent chasing a career. I in particular chose film – which is basically one of the hardest “careers” to actually achieve statistically. But I was invincible! I was unstoppable! I was going to conquer the world!

For two years during my first degree I researched female film directors – or lack thereof.

You would find me saying – at least twice a week – “do you realize that only two female directors have ever been nominated for an oscar?” “Do you know that only 4% of all working directors in Hollywood are women?”

Yes, Kathryn Bigelow finally broke the so-called “glass ceiling” this year with her win for hurt locker. But let’s be honest – this does not mean that things have changed much.

But I’m getting away from myself. I’ve spent the last two years having an interior battle with myself. I believe that this battle has been in large part responsible for the general feeling of “being stuck”. I’m torn. Is there really a way to have it all?

I’d always had this fantasy that the man I would marry would be a “house-husband.” I would bring home the bacon, he would take care of the kids. All would be well.

But it turns out the “who brings home the bacon” issue isn’t really the problem.

From the moment I realized that I wanted to be a mommy – I knew I wanted to be a “present” mommy.

I remember as a kid – my dad was never ever home. He barely had a hand in raising me until about the age of 14. The result is – inevitably – that I am far closer and more attached to the parent that was “present” – my mother. I love her more than anything – I would do anything for her.

I honestly can’t say the same about my father. I would never confide in him the way I do in her. I don’t feel as safe with him as I do with her.

I don’t want to be my dad (hell to the no! but that’s a different post altogether). I want to be a present parent. an active parent. I may want to work – but how in the heck can I “be a mega-superstar-film-director” and be a mommy?

Directors don’t sleep. They’re sometimes gone on shoots for months at a time. They’re shut away in editing bays and sound stages.

This was the ton of bricks that dropped on me about two years ago. Just as i was realizing that I wanted to marry Schmerson. And just as a feature I was working on was starting to come together.

Immediately the film project fell apart. And i haven’t been able to get it together since (get it together in the broad sense – not just that particular project).

It’s only now that I’m starting to realize the connection between these two events.

I kept on telling myself “I’m going to be a director” but I kept on feeling “I’m going to be a mommy”. For the last two years – those two thoughts have been basically canceling each other out.

Yes, there have been other factors – a sudden loss of confidence in my abilities amongst them – but at the end of the day I can’t ignore the coincidence here. The timing is just a bit too perfect.

You know, I have a tendency to end these posts lately with some sort of conclusion or revelation.

I don’t have one here. I honestly don’t. I think this is going to be part of my struggle. I don’t want to be my mother. I don’t want to be my father.  (oh! any psychology majors currently reading this are probably having a field day!)

I want a fulfilling career, and I want to be a mother that is always around and can be counted on. I’m going to have to figure out how to navigate that one.

Any suggestions will be happily accepted, then I’m sure – eventually forgotten somewhere between a sound mix and diaper change.

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5 Responses to “You are what you watch”

  1. me0me December 24, 2010 at 17:49 #

    I can relate, male as I may be. With careers that sometimes take years to start up- especially the artistic ones- I think success versus making a family is a struggle for most of us. And it really isn’t about who brings the bacon- it’s about the fact that BOTH partners need to bring in some of the bacon, find satisfaction in what they do, and be present at home. It’s a hard ef’in balance.
    And I doubt Kathryn Bigelow would have won the oscar if one weren’t consciously thinking ‘I can’t believe a woman made this’ while watching that movie (even though she probably did a better job than any man would have).

    • mommyodyssey December 25, 2010 at 02:14 #

      I agree, but I have to say that women do have a slightly harder time managing this. It’s purely because biological responses – and the struggle comes from a slightly different place. I’m not saying it’s a different struggle – just of a different origin. When a woman gives birth – she absolutely has to stay close to the child for the first few months of life, especially when breastfeeding, etc. This is not to downplay the father’s role, but the biological act of holding a human being in your body is in of itself completely opposite of any and all careerist instincts a woman has.
      That’s where the struggle becomes biology versus psychology. And that complicates things beyond everyone’s career-versus family struggle for balance, regardless of gender.

  2. slcurwin December 25, 2010 at 08:45 #

    Correction. Buffy chose “wind benieth my wings” for her wedding song with Spike. lol. Just putting it out there.

    I hope you can find a balance between family and career. I put career on the back burner for family but I’m also a far more traditional family style girl than most people I know and we just happened to financially able to do that. I know it’s not the ideal for most. And you’re right, how many girls in our generation grew up saying “I’m going to be a house wife”?

  3. rolig January 7, 2011 at 13:46 #

    I know you and I have to correct you.
    you are invincible! you are unstoppable! and you are going to conquer the world!
    but your goals may change. the way you perceive world conquer may change.
    we shouldn’t cling to our old dreams. I’ve always jealous you for having a clear vision for the future, but I most admire you for the ability to do what it takes to achieve it.

    • mommyodyssey January 7, 2011 at 14:30 #

      Thank you so much for saying that. Love you!

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