The disclaimer: I write this with much respect for men. I have two awesome brothers who happen to be men so I would not want to disrespect any man nor would I like to box them up and speak generally about them or discredit any one man’s experiences as I am merely sharing my perspective.
By chance I met a gentleman who made a habit of listening to motivational speakers. He listened in the shower and in his car before work. I thought this was strange but I connected the dots when he also told me that he had top sales at his company for 3 years in a row. His story is very inspiring. We actually listened to one of those motivational tapes together one day. They all made success and riches sound so attainable. They all also had this theme of basically saying that what you were doing in any field or in any industry wasn’t good enough unless you were committing your entire life to it and not taking no for an answer. It struck me, however, as we were listening, that all of the speakers were male. I thought that it was pretty motivating, sure, but also seemingly unrealistic for me, a single mother to give up everything and forsake any other duties for whatever the goal was. I concluded that these men, perhaps not all men but these men did not have to deal with the emotional pull that mothers, especially single mothers have to deal with. These men, who were now highly successful millionaires probably didn’t make PB&J for lunches and scramble in the morning to get kids ready for school on their way to the top of the chain. Either they didn’t have children or someone else was doing this work.
I felt the demand of motherhood when my body began to change long before my daughter was born. I believe her father did not feel the demand of fatherhood until much later when my belly began to poke out. I will always feel the demand of motherhood. Forever. I’ll never sleep the same. I probably won’t try skydiving or bungee jumping because I know there’s a little person that needs me on the ground…and I don’t want to take that chance. Not only do I care that she eats, I care (probably too much) about what she eats as well. Not only do I want to know her friends’ names at school but I want to know what they talk about too.
Those men talking on that motivational track could not possibly have done this. Men, in general, I understand are wired differently. While women are often slaves to our emotions, men have different drivers and needs. They have a need to fund household operations and to grow their territory. They serve their families and children through other ways like building, fixing, advising, and providing or at least I’ve watched my own father do this. In no way is it wrong, but it is different from what I know to do. I know to nurture, to care for, to hug her goodbye before her school day and then listen to her talk about her day when I pick her up (in my case, I do all of those other things as well but they are secondary). I believe that those men were able to rise to the top because they were not hindered by their emotions. Correct me if I’m wrong, I welcome feedback, but I say this because I have watched my daughter’s father move away from her, more than once, in the name of providing better for her.
I would not like to say that the demand of motherhood prevents me from having life-changing success (There are plenty of successful mothers) but I suppose some of that statement is true for the single mother. I would like to say that maybe if I were to have the male advantage of not being pulled by my emotions to serve my child’s immediate needs to be nurtured; maybe my life would be different. My brand of motherhood requires the attention and time I would otherwise dedicate to a career or book or contract position overseas. And, while I always envisioned myself serving the world through more than motherhood, I respect the journey and the investment that I am making in her one day at a time. She’s going to be awesome, well… she already is. Truthfully, she is my greatest inspiration and without her, I wouldn’t have a story to tell or a reason to still keep reaching for that life-changing success regardless of how difficult it might be to achieve.