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The Compromises and the Promises, Part 2

The 60’s generation seems to be a magnanimous place in history where the conflict began. For if the ideals of the previous generation had lived on, we as women would probably be content to stay home with our children and bake bread from scratch. Not that many women still don’t live by and absolutely thrive within these ideals, but most of us have been inundated with the belief that it is our right — and therefore our responsibility — to achieve freedom for ourselves in the way of the working world.

And so, despite generally being devalued by society, we struggle to carve out a place for ourselves in the boardrooms. This freedom, this continuing revolution, per say, is not, the be all and end all, however. Besides the wonderful will to be “equalized” in our society, we innately and biologically feel the responsibility and the desire to breed children. Already, you see, we are doing double time.

Within the 80’s and even the 90’s, women seemed to have retaliated from the Norman Rockwell’esque lifestyle of their mothers and invented the Superwoman Syndrome. I both admire and despise this age. It, in its seemingly perfectionist expectations of purple spandex and larger than life Jackie Collins characters, has spotlighted women “doing it all.” Which is, naturally, ridiculous. During this fashion-hell era, most working women with families attempted to continue their strenuous aerobics regimens (in order to look as good as possible in their spandex and leggings), raise families, and retain the ideals (bake your own bread!) that they assumed on the advice of their knowledgeable mothers and mother-in-laws. Now, who doesn’t crave to do it all? These super-modern and crazy expectations directly juxtapose the ones of our parents. Where do we fit in?

It is really a wonder that now, with this new Millennium of Mothers, that the Oprah icon reigns. Of course, Oprah herself is not a Mother, therefore lacking a first-hand understanding of the very real, very important compromises that the Millennium Mother faces. However, along with this criticism is the fact that she understands the desire of women these days to still be special and different. For behind all of these cliches remains the fact that each woman today needs to believe she is making an impact. With the strongly opposing ideals that we have retained over half a century, we struggle to create our own niche in the universe. Total freedom versus zero choice. Going to the gym versus baking bread. Chasing fame and fortune versus settling down and raising a family. There are no easy answers here. Just a lot of compromises.

Compromises, you see, are the key. Indeed, I now have one of those sniffling little children whom I scoffed at in the past and around whom my universe now revolves.

I have since become one of the high school teachers that I terrorized in the past. Yet, I am still dedicated to the ideals… all the ideals that have formed my identity. The ideals are still possible, even for mothers. Becoming a mother may equal the closure of reckless habits or staying out at the gym until the cleaning people arrive, but it can also equal the joy that is inherent motherhood – that of being a parent.

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