“I was surprised by this admission, to say the least. Sure, when I was a kid, my mom would sometimes complain about missing a field trip or a PTA meeting, but to be honest, she complained about most things, so it didn’t seem like her job ranked super high on the list. Growing up in New York City in the ‘90s, I’d watched the rest of my friends’ moms slowly drop out of the full-time work force, taking lower-paid part-time administrative positions or scheduling their days around manicures and aerobics classes and harshly worded sit-downs with the nanny. But my mom had kept on working, rising through the ranks to become a corporate executive before retiring a few years ago. I had always been proud of my mother for having (it seemed) seamlessly integrated her career with motherhood. It never occurred to me that she didn’t feel the same way.
So, when she told me that she not only regretted her professional achievements — her three-decades-long career, her MBA, everything — but also that a work-life balance for mothers is impossible, I felt suddenly unmoored. My vision of my own parenthood — which at that point entailed me handily pairing Chuck Taylors with diaphanous nursing dresses, really letting my multitasking skills shine — suddenly seemed less certain. If my mother felt that having a career and a family at the same time was a mistake, I no longer had proof that the opposite was true. What had happened to my feminist hero? And also, as I yelled at her over roast chicken at Rosh Hashana dinner, why didn’t she tell me this before I got knocked up?”
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