In a world where you have to choose between parenthood and pursuing your dreams, finding a balance is the hardest.
On a day like Today, three years ago I was leaving home tired and sleepless because of a movie I insisted on watching at 2 a.m., yet knowing a few hours later (5:30) I’d have to wake up for school . Before going to school, I prepared myself the classic sandwich made by a high school student who has time for everything except preparing herself a healthy meal; I spread as much butter as I could, not to mention the amount of strawberry jelly I smothered on it. Last but not least, downed it with a pretty strong Chocolisto drink. About six tablespoons were just enough for that 19-year-old body, which by that time didn’t really care about how many calories a tablespoon of this delicious chocolate powder would have. Then, I left for school completely unready for a 7-hour school day. I left school at 2:20 after having complained the entire day about feeling tired, sleepy and hungry, and once I would made it home, I used to take a slight three-hour nap. When waking up, I finished all pending homework and I prepared myself for a 2-3-hour workout, following an invigorating shower. Then out on a date with Paulo, my boyfriend. Sounds like the perfect teenager life, right? Little did I know the true meaning of responsibilities and the concept of being actually TIRED. My biggest concern? A job. “I need a job, dad! I need money to afford stuff I want, to hang out with my friends, to go shopping! And…yes! There’s a bunch of stores out there hiring people, but I need a full-time job! And I really doubt they give me a full-time.” Those were my desperate words 3 years ago. I was fully mad at life, just because I wanted to go shopping at Hollister! My Gosh, what a tragedy!
However, I understand the Isabella of that time; she just wanted to be a little more independent. At the end, I guess I ended up dealing with more than what I’d have bargained for. Life eventually gave me more than just a full-time job. I graduated from high school on that summer and months later, started college. Before starting college, I got a new job in a clothing store. By that time, I was also 4 months pregnant, and the rest, as they say, is history. Let’s proceed then, to this new chapter in my life called: The Arduous and Beautiful Chaos of Motherhood.
My reality has undoubtedly changed, now. Thursdays and Saturdays are my days off in my current job. Today’s Thursday, I woke up very early in the morning and didn’t get to sleep good at all, this time not because of a movie I insisted on watching, but because of those kicks my almost two-year-old kept giving me on the back while moving hundreds of times while we slept, (yes, she sleeps with us, and yes, we’re fine with it, even when we wake up feeling like we just ran a half marathon at noon in Miami Beach) and because of all that homework I did late at night, too. Before opening my eyes, I feel someone over my face yelling: “Mom… milk! Milk!” I laugh, give her a big hug and get lost in that baby cologne smell, and then, with her in my arms, I proceed to go downstairs and therefore prepare her milk. After drinking her milk, she has breakfast while I clean the house and finish any pending tasks. Then, we proceed to take a shower together and get ready to go out for a walk and play the entire day. I make the most of my days off to spend some quality time together, so, I don’t take her to daycare on Thursdays.
Notwithstanding, today we faced a different scenario, and I was not able to spend the day with her since I had an interview with a college newspaper director at 11: a.m. The reason was I wanted to make part of the newspaper staff, so that I could start getting experience on my future career, which is journalism. Although I’m only missing one more semester to be done with my A.A. degree, I had high expectations and got there very excited. The newspaper was made from college students to college students so what could I lose? Well, that was my thought in that moment. But to my surprise, there was a requirement I hadn’t met yet, and needed to complete in order to make part of the newspaper staff. He said there were some classes I needed to take first, and I said, “Okay, it’s fine! When can I start?” But, you know, every day is a good day to be surprised! So, he surprised me once again. These classes were only given in the morning, which seems to be an ideal schedule for me, especially when it comes to go to school; but when you have this office hour’s job, the word “ideal” goes directly to the trash can. Now, you’d probably ask yourself: “So, how did you manage to go to school all this time?” Well, I was very lucky to be able to take all my classes either online, on Saturdays or at night.
It was at that time I felt completely clueless. To achieve this big goal that I’ve been trying to pursuit for a long time, I need to attend college. To attend college, I need someone I trust enough to take care of my daughter, or simply take her to daycare. To pay for daycare or whoever that takes care of her, I need to work. The truth is, if you want to have a career, it’s more convenient to study before creating a family. However, everyone’s path is different. Your biggest goal, is probably just the beginning for another person.
For instance, Carol is a lawyer; she gave birth two months ago and she is currently enjoying her maternity leave. She has only one month left to be with the baby, until she has to go back to work again. She’s not sure if going back to work is what she wants, or if should start her own business so that she can stay at home with the baby. Michelle has two boys, she’s been a SAH (Stay-At-Home) mom, since the kids were babies. Sometimes she feels like the 6 years she spent attending college were wasted time, since she’s currently unemployed. However, she’s also happy with it and feels lucky to be able to stay at home with them and their happiness makes her feel complete. Julia has always worked, even now that she has four kids, and she doesn’t regret it, because she’s happy doing what she does. Who’s the perfect mom out there? What’s the ideal balance? Which one has the perfect life? You always have something to sacrifice. Should it be a job, your dreams, or the time we spend with kids? There’s just not such a perfect thing. Again. Everyone’s path is different.
Life itself today places me in a very complex situation of having to maneuver through three very important phases of my life, which entails: studying, working and raising a child. That little family that Paulo and I created once is today what actually gives me the strength and pushes me forward to keep going.
Photo: Julian Rodriguez
When the interview was over, I stood up tearfully and with a lung in my throat, I kind of felt rejected. Before leaving, the director called me and said: “wait, I have something for you.” I turned around just to see a key holder with the newspaper logo printed on it, hanging on his hands. I didn’t know what to think in that precise moment, I felt like when you’re in one of those reality shows and if you don’t get to win the first prize, they give you either a gift card, or bonus, electronics, or else. In that moment, to be honest, I felt certain self-deception and felt incapable too. On my way back home, I could only think about two things: In a world where you have to choose between parenthood and pursuing your dreams, finding a balance is the hardest. On the other side, how would our lives be if everything would be perfect? Somehow getting a “no” as an answer make us more matured. Today, I plant that “no” in a dreams field, and let a fruit called Teetosh grow, which is this space where I share my deepest feelings and thoughts with you guys. Every single obstacle, is just the start of something new