Pietro’s Birthday Party by @MarianVidaurri

Anthropology, Journey, Women

Marian and KalPosting a little breather from the New Maya Language journey–a short and sweet piece by mother and friend, @MarianVidaurri. It cleverly shares a taster of the juggles and under-feelings of working and being a mother, being a mother and working.

My daughter will never forget Pietro’s birthday party at Chuck E Cheese’s, because she did not go to Pietro’s party at Chuck E Cheese’s. At 3:00 pm, as we were heading to the event that was due to start at 4:00 p.m., a glimpse into my Iphone’s calendar made my heart sink. The party started at 12:30 and ended at 2:30 p.m. “What a horrible, terrible mother I am”, was the first thought that crossed my mind. How could I have messed up so bad with my daughter’s very important engagement? Of course, after breaking the news to my little girl she instantly burst into tears, heartbroken by her mom’s very stupid mistake and mishandling of her multitasking-filled life.

Mommy guilt is a very powerful force, albeit a self-inflicted and highly noxious one. It is so powerful that it belittles my graduate degrees and multiple years of work experience in a second. As a working mom in the capital of one of the world’s superpowers, where politics and stress is the fun game of the day, I have realized two very important things about this “powerful force”. First, there is no such thing as “daddy guilt”. Here I am, a day after the “Pietro’s Party incident” and the thought of “I am not a good enough mom” because I disappointed my daughter still rambles inside, while my husband has seemingly moved on.

Secondly, I am certain that the mommy guilt feeling has a direct impact on self-confidence as a woman in general, but more specifically, as a professional. There has been much debate about how women cannot have it all, and that to at least have a shot at having it all we must aggressively incline forward. Much discussion has stemmed from, for example, Anne Marie Slaughter’s widely known article on The Atlantic and Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean On book. The fact of the matter is that the barriers for women to be successful in the workplace actually start at home. No, correction: The most critical glass ceiling is actually within ourselves. What is worse, we build it ourselves. It is the glass ceiling of guilt and self-doubt that has tremendous detrimental implications on our self-empowerment and future potential.

We must believe that we are good enough, and that we can have it all. Otherwise, we are doomed. Of course I feel bad I mixed up the time of the party. But everyone makes mistakes, men and women alike. It was wrong to think so low of myself after realizing I screwed up. I was even more wrong to start questioning whether or not the fact that I work, which means my head has yet another heavy ball to juggle, affects my quality as a mother. “Maybe I should not work to be more present, more concentrated on what is important in life”, I inevitably thought. But as everything in life, there is always a catch-22 and there are pros and cons.

Thing is, if I do not work, I do not feel as happy with myself. And that reflects right back and directly at home. If I work, I feel a degree of personal satisfaction that makes me be, well me. If my kids would have the choice to decide whether to have a mom who is often times bitter because she is not taking a shot at doing what she loves, and a mom who works and does what she loves and from time to time, unintentionally forgets perhaps that today was picture day or tag day at school, well, I guess they would go with the latter option. I am sure they would choose the scenario of a happier, good enough mom.

Like my daughter, I will never forget Pietro’s birthday party either, but for other good reasons. On one hand, I have learned a lesson and will for sure arrive to any kids’ party at the right time in the future. On the other, the incident made me realize that we all have a bandwidth. Mistakes are inevitable, and we will continue to make them as moms and professionals – and that is okay. Mommy guilt is our enemy and we should emphatically reject it. Being a good enough mom is good enough. And if we want to continue to make strides in this highly complex, competitive, and man-driven world, the first step is to break away from the glass ceilings we self-construct, sometimes unconsciously, on a daily basis. So to Pietro’s mom I say: thanks for inviting us to the party. Sorry we missed it this year, we will definitely be there in 2015.