Monday 10 October 2011


A few months ago, I attended a conference of women leaders at Lucy Cavendish College in Cambridge, England. Without exception, every woman reported being plagued by the sensation of feeling that she should be in two places at once. If she was in the boardroom, she worried that her rightful place was in the park, playing with her children. If a CEO took an extra hour in the morning to sew a costume for her child's school play, she worried that every stitch was potentially a threat to her hard-won career. Serious business professionals are not supposed to need sleep, food, love or families. They most certainly do not sew costumes for school plays. The one (I hoped) optimistic comment that I made to the group that day in Cambridge was something I heard Gloria Steinem say a long time ago. "Girls today", she remarked, "can do everything they want in life. Just not all at the same time."

I am not, nor have a I ever been a CEO. I am a mother who has sewn a few costumes and played a lot in parks with my children. But I have longed for a responsible, adult role as one longs to visit a beautiful foreign country. Now that my son and my daughter have moved away from home though, I identify with these women leaders. I worry about my loved ones who cannot always take care of themselves without my help, my cooking, or my sense of knowing them so well that often, spoken words are unnecessary.

My friend told me that when she experienced the devastation of a natural disaster, at first she worried that she should be doing a myriad of vital tasks all at the same time - until she realized that perhaps she was learning an important lesson for living through her dire circumstances. In an instant, everything can change. Very little of value that we rely upon as safe and predictable is actually any of those things. Perhaps living in the present moment is more than a new age phrase - it is an aspiration that has the potential of giving meaning to our lives.

So, for this evening, I am going to enjoy a hot bath, say a prayer of thanks for an impossibly beautiful weekend with my family at our cottage up north and another one that Nicholas is happy and healthy in his new home.

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