Saturday, June 1, 2013

Unapologetic: Who's Sorry Now?

The media loves a good, nasty, hair-pulling cat fight--the kind that requires its participants to slap raw steaks on their bruised egos and battered emotions.

Quite often, the media incites the divisive debate between the working and stay-at-home mothers.

Note to media:  there are no willing participants or any contenders from either side.

Only a heap of apologies.

That landfill of mea culpas has become the great equalizer among all mothers, regardless of personal circumstance.

I hear our apologies several times a day.

From the breathless mothers in the bagel store who apologize that they can't be at the school Olympics or make homemade gluten-free brownies for the bake sale.

From the stay-at-home mom who apologizes for the glaring canyon of inexperience between her last paid job on her résumé or for missed law-school loan payments.

From all mothers who are bereft of energy at the stroke of midnight and yet sit awake in their beds wondering if they DO enough and ARE enough before they slip into interrupted slumber.

Successful enough, maternal enough, protective enough, attractive enough, toned enough, organic enough.

Good enough.

Mental apologies stream like an incessant news ticker, covering guilt about the wrong sunscreen, the sugary after school snack, the skipped nights of reading, the drive-through burgers choked down between practices, saying no to being class mom, missing the Halloween parade.  

Single, married, affluent, destitute, CEO or soccer mom--it doesn't matter:  I have found that so many of us persist in a perpetual state of apology, a convoluted loom of guilt and explanation woven from strands of the pressure of having it all and doing it all.

Weren't we once told we could?
I think we always needed an asterisk at the end of that proclamation.

I'll never forget being accosted by an acquaintance at a family party after I had my third son Luke. I never saw her coming as I approached the dessert table. After staring at my doughy post-partum midsection, she jettisoned her opinion between trays of creamy cannoli and powdery anisette toast.

"You stayin' home with your boys now?"

"Yes."

"What a waste of a Harvard degree. All that work and money you coulda saved. You could be so much more."

I found myself giving an explanation--which sounded almost like a coerced apology. As soon as my words rose to the surface, I felt instantly resentful for having to explain.  Her words--stiffly suspended above well-frosted miniature pastries--branded themselves with the notion of insufficiency.  


A stinging implication that my choice to stay home made me less fulfilled and more inadequate.  And simply someone who was not enough

The two-thirds shaded circle from the fractions lesson plan.

Why should we have to explain ourselves?  Or apologize for knowing what our individual "ENOUGH" is?


No apology necessary for wearing
these stunning
"Anna Maria"
sandals by Shutz.
In her recent address to Wellesley College graduates, senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett provided us with that long-awaited asterisk when she said:

For those of you wondering if you can have it all, the answer is yes – but there is a catch.  The arc of life is long, so don’t expect to have it all at the same time...After dropping a ball or two, I began to understand having it all doesn’t mean doing it all."

Jarrett's message is spot-on for all of us to embrace an unapologetic mindset about knowing we are enough-- no matter what trajectory we follow--and to let go of the constant urge to apologize for not being able to "have it all" in one sitting.

We are enough.
And I am not sorry for saying it.

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