“Nobody can have it all.” That is a line the character Fritz Curtis says in the movie, Baby Boom from 1987 starring the very talented, Diane Keaton. This comment in the movie is made by her boss, a man, just after he demotes her. You see, the character Diane Keaton plays, J.C. Wiatt, is a New York business woman. Her world of fancy business meetings and million dollar deals does a complete 180 when motherhood is laid upon her. I don’t want to give away the details of the movie, and if you’ve never seen it, by all means, search your On Demand or through Netflix now, because this is a must-see movie. It is your classic 80s flick, with the very sleazy James Spader, and instrumental background music in just the right places. It will pull at your heartstrings, but in a good way.
I find that will all our advances in modern technology, and the fact we are such a liberal country, the premise of this movie – from 1987 – is still very much relevant today. This movie will hit home with you. Especially if you’re a woman. Baby Boom is just what it is. A boom effect you feel after becoming a parent. Shit changes. Your life as you know it, will never, never, never be the same. Your heart will beat a little different. Your immune system will tackle random viruses. Your sleep will be lost. Your emotions will be exposed in every direction. There is no going back. And it’s not a bad thing, not a bad thing at all.
It’s actually a beautiful thing. A beautiful experience to love someone so unconditionally. And you will witness this when you watch this movie. You make sacrifices when you become a parent. Many sacrifices. Some people cannot or are not willing to make certain sacrifices. A challenge most women face is to decide to stay in the workforce, leave it to raise their family, or find employment that offers work-life balance. You would think since this movie was made (almost thirty years ago) and with the technology we have today – there would be more work from home jobs, but the cruel fact is, there just isn’t.
I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones. My employer has allowed me to work part-time for several years now. I know the society norm is for both parents to work full-time, and with the cost of living, it’s damn near impossible to have only one parent work. And that societal norm is unfair. It’s unfair to the mothers, but it’s really unfair to the child. Because the majority of women that work send their children to daycare – to someone who is not family. To someone who is a stranger to the child and parents. And usually from infancy.
Don’t get me wrong. There are many, many qualified daycare centers and providers. From a mother’s perspective, it’s just that much harder sending your child to someone you barely know and hope for the best. And that is what we moms (okay, parents) do in this country because most of us don’t have a choice.
Being a parent means accepting you cannot have it all. Unless you’re among the rich in the country of course, but if you’re like most, you are just making it – with two incomes. Accepting you cannot have it all as a woman is very important. Once you accept this, the standard you hold gets lowered.
Accepting this fact may help you breathe a bit better. You probably work 8:00ish to 5:00 p.m., deal with a commute, and rush home to get dinner on the table. Someone has to drop off and pick the kids up each day. Someone has to prep dinner. Someone has to get the kids ready for bed. Everyone needs to bathe. Both parents need to wake before the kids in the a.m. to get ready. It’s all a rush. And the itsy bitsy time you get with your child during the week might add up to 1.5 – 2.5 hours per night, depending on their bedtime. And this is our societal norm. This is what the majority of parents with young children do EVERY SINGLE DAY.
With such a rushed schedule, you can guarantee the laundry will not get touched until the weekend. The house will be in disarray during the week. Your children may feel or be neglected a bit, and it’s not for bad intentions on your part, it’s that the energy and time simply isn’t there. And if you’re trying to tone up your post-prego body, guess what? There will be no such thing as “me time” for yourself. So, accept it. Accept what Fritz from Baby Boom said. “You cannot have it all, no one can.”
Sacrifices. Sacrifices will be made. The question is… is to whom or what? And the only one that can decide that is you!
In this movie, the baby’s name is Elizabeth. She is a sweet, “agreeable” child. There truly is cinematic magic in this film – the cast is perfect. The connection between J.C. and Elizabeth feels entirely genuine. Diane Keaton wasn’t even a mother when this movie was filmed. You’d never know it. She nails the emotions we as mothers face; how you feel when leaving your child with a new sitter; how you feel when trying to juggle the work-life balance; and panic attacks. They’re real! I had my first one not too long ago.
I have a strong point to make in all of this. Please believe me when I say, when you become a mother, your world and how you view it changes. The career you worked so hard for, might just take a backseat when your baby arrives. And your employer might not care that your baby was sick all night and you didn’t get much sleep. They need you to produce. And it’s not their fault. The job has to get done. And we are all replaceable. Another point this movie illustrates.
“Nobody should have to make those sacrifices,” says J.C. near the end of the movie. She is right and yet she is wrong. Because as mothers, unfortunately, we are forced to make decisions and sacrifices. The corporate world is a rat race. Always has been, probably always will be. It’s up to you to decide at what pace you go, or if you go at all. Or maybe, just maybe, you have enough talent and luck to create your own pace governed solely by you.