“I can bring home the bacon. Fry it up in a pan. And never, ever let you forget you’re a man.”
These are the infamous words of the Peggy Lee song from 1963, “I’m a woman.” However, those of you who were kids in the 70’s may remember it from the commercial for Enjoli perfume (see full ad below).
Those lyrics had a lasting effect on me. Commercials like this one, along with countless other influences, made me believe that not only could I have it all – I could excel at everything, and be tall, skinny and powerful in all aspects of my life. And….I believed it.
I believed it for a long time. Of course I would have a successful career in my field of choice. Of course, I would marry the man of my dreams and have a family too. Of course, I would always cook nutritious meals for my kids, and take them to all their extra-curricular activities, and read to them before bed. And of course, I would maintain my youthful appearance, go to the gym and keep the spice alive in my marriage.
This delusion carried on through school, university, law school and the early years of my legal career. So thorough was the brainwashing that I never once thought about childcare or the challenges of balancing work and a personal life.
Growing up in the era of Gloria Steinem and Enjoli ads, I thought it was a given that everything just worked out. My progressive parents advocated a good education above all else, but also hoped that I would have a family too. I just thought it would all be fine.
Then it wasn’t. I had a baby, then another and another. All of a sudden, it’s too much to think about work. I’m not a multitasker. When I multitask, I do things poorly. Too much of a risk to take with my precious kids. I see my friends who multitask beautifully and wonder how they do it. I just know that right now I can’t do it all. Right now, I have to be home. It feels right. Then, why do I feel like I’m always defending my decision to do so? Oh, blonde goddess/Superwoman from the Enjoli ad – I admire you, but alas, I cannot be you.