Philly Do-It-All Moms Spill The Beans
The disquieting crossroads where motherhood confronts job ambition comes into full view in a new anthology of women‘s reflections, “Torn: True Stories of Kids, Career, and the Conflict of Modern Motherhood.”
Compiling the work of highly ambitious, working women from urban areas across the United States, San Francisco-based editor Samantha Parent Walravens hoped to shed a light on an all-too-familiar dilemma faced torturously by educated moms everywhere.
“…Quitting my job to be a stay-at-home mom is not what I had hoped for or expected of myself; nor did I find the experience of changing dirty diapers and breast feeding every two hours fulfilling or rewarding,” she points out in the book‘s introduction.
By compiling the stories, she hopes women can achieve a sense of freedom, and community, knowing “there is no perfect mother, nor is there a perfect balance between kids and career,” she writes.
A few excerpts from Philly and New Jersey contributors to “Torn”:
Sara Esther Crispe, “Need. To. Slow. Down”
“At 8:30 a.m. I popped up in bed realizing that their chartered bus had left about 20 minutes earlier,” writes Crispe, the mother of four. She proceeds to get a speeding ticket on her hopeless trip to their pick-up point, which spurs her to reflect.
“God is telling you to slow down in your life…” a friend writes to her, when she mentions the ticket.
“Just slow down. How wise she was. I am always running. I am always moving. There is simply so much to do and so little time to do it…. I thought about her words even more, and how I had my kids in the car when I was speeding,” she writes.
“I began to think about all I do in a day and yet how much I also miss in their lives when I refuse to do less.
“A woman I know keeps a yellow sticky paper on her dashboard. It reads: ‘If you are talking on the phone, you are not talking to your kids‘ ”
[Crispe lives in Philadelphia.]
Sue Repko, from her essay “Observations from the Planet SAHM”
The story starts with her in front of a security guard in central N.J. at her husband’s company in torn jeans and a stretched-out sweatshirt, and pink fuzzy slippers.
After giving birth to her first son, she writes,”I packed up my ego and stored it in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight,where it would remain for the next eighteen years or so.”
“If I were diagnosing myself I’d say I suffer the most from a bad case of progressive PTA disorder, having taken on too many volunteer positions at my sons’ schools and also in the communities where we’ve lived.”
“But the diagnosis is complicated by the fact of my part-time employment sprinkled in over the years, activities that have given me the patina… of having a ‘career’ while not actually having one, and certainly not bringing in much money.”
“I was named Planning Student of the Year [at Rutgers University] and had my pick of jobs.” She was the youngest housing manager for Princeton Township at 26.
The choice to full-time parent had its breaking points. When her boys were 10 and 12, she decided it was time to be paid.
“I want you to pay me! I want you to acknowledge what I do! Every Friday I want you to cut a check, made out to me!” she recalls yeling at her husband one day.
Her caution: “Superwomen, beware: Three or four part-time gigs can easily exceed the demands of one full-time gig. Trying to juggle multiple, unrelated taske over the long-term can be detrimental to the physical and mental well-being.”