OPINION: I am shirking womanhood, and I'm on the wrong side of 25 to be doing so.
In some instances, I'm a 16-year-old girl stuck in a 20-something's body: I prefer crop tops to Chantilly lace bustiers; and buying condoms still makes me blush. On the flip-side, one aspect of my personality has certain mature aged qualities about it: I'm reading more books than ever before and I rarely drink anymore.
Some days I feel like Hillary Clinton ready to take on the world (minus the scrunchie); others I'm like Molly Ringwald in her John Hughes days, absentmindedly using hairspray as deodorant and affixing my top knot with Rexona. Ringwald's character in Sixteen Candles, Sam Baker, was a classic example of a confused "woman child".
This existential stocktake occurred recently when I was asked on several occasions by a number of relative strangers if I have kids - not "a kid" - but children. The plural hung heavy in the air like the lid had been lifted off of a 1971 bottle of Clinique's Aromatics Elixir.
The question left me speechless because, in my mind, I've got more of a chance of being invited to tea with Princess Di than purchasing nappies, organising babysitters and pumping milk. I can barely look after myself, let along a fully-formed zygote, plus I swear like a drunken sailor and have accessories which would be dangerous when worn in close proximity to infants.
I then read Anne-Maree Slaughter's story in The Atlantic entitled "Why Women Still Can't Have It All", an essay that basically reiterated the debate which has been raging since Mary Magdalene juggled a "career" with being Jesus' BFF: women must choose between motherhood or the workplace, as the two are like balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
It's this "have it all" phrase that irks me. My girlfriends and I don't want it "all"; we just want to be happy with our lot, hence why we are always striving for new achievements and focusing on milestones, whether they be a new job, a holiday, improved fitness levels, a baby or a change in relationship status.
While the 16-year-old in me considers "it all" being an endless supply of icecream and a television permanently tuned into HBO, close-to-30-me knows that "it all" should mean a balanced life featuring a successful career, happy family and healthy relationships. But I think one of the reasons I've become a "woman child" (similar to a man child but with ovaries) is that I was raised by a woman who actually did have it all.
My mum worked full time when my brother and I were growing up. She invented the phrase "Just F***king Do It" long before Michelle Bridges attributed it to personal training. She travelled regularly, worked long hours and was heavily involved in community activities, so our athletics carnivals and canteen duties at school weren't always possible. There were some nights when she wasn't around when I would fall asleep clutching a framed family photo and sobbing into my pillow.
But I would not have changed a thing. If it weren't for both of my parent's busy schedules, I would not have learned how to cook chicken and spaghetti (thanks Nanna), learned how to drive (thanks Nan) or understood the intricate rules of French cricket and how to cheat on crossword puzzles (thanks Pop).
As my mum had it all while I was working my way through my formative years, the one thing that always stuck out to me was how lucky I was to have a loving home, a comfortable upbringing and an ambitious matriarch. "There are people out there that are a lot worse off than you" was my childhood slogan, and it's something I continue to tell myself when I'm having a Molly Ringwald sort of day.
Hopefully I grow up and out of my woman child phase before the crow's feet get too deep, but if not all I can do is strive to be happy and healthy. Then, perhaps, the "all" that Slaughter speaks of will fall into place.
Do you think there are a growing number of "women children" like me? These days, what traits or achievements separate the girls from the women and the boys from the men? Do men have their own version of "having it all"?
-Sydney Morning Herald
Is it ever OK to complain about other people's kids?Related story: (See story)