Girl Talk: When careers (and stuff) get in the way of baby making – Rachel Zoe's new project
Rachel Zoe has been contemplating motherhood a lot lately, if the current season of her show, The Rachel Zoe Project, and Jezebel's commentary on said show are any indication. But it's not really joy she's experiencing – she's terrified, anxious and unsure of herself. Her career? Clothes? Styling celebrities? She's all over it. Babies? Put her in a (designer) strait-jacket.
"It's the only thing in my life I'm afraid of," she confesses to her makeup artist BFF Joey, who reminds her that clothes, bags and shoes can't love her back. "It's one of those things where I'm like, okay, next year, next year, next year...but I'm 38 years old, like, I need to do it. And I know that. It's not having the baby that stresses me out. "
The issue is highly sensitive and manifold for Rachel, as it is for most women, including Yours Truly. There's the matter of her weight, her body's ability to carry a baby to full term, and, hello, making space for a cot in a house where clothes are allocated their own room. But besides that, there's her career.
"Time just moves really, really fast and I think when you're very into your career it's like a decade flies by and all of a sudden you're 10 years older and then, all of a sudden, it's, like, imminent... I think it's very easy in the fashion industry to become all-consumed; your whole career just moves forward and your personal life is just out the window. It's a choice I made without actually knowing I was making that choice."
To me, Rachel exemplifies the Gen-X stereotype of the woman with the great career and great wardrobe portrayed by Sex and the City who wakes up one day and thinks, "I need a new project – a baby!" (as if that's not going to be part of the Sex and the City 3 storyline), but finds her biological clock is inconveniently out of sinc with her life plan. (I said stereotype: obviously life is not so simplistic).
"I've worked really hard for 15 years of my life to, like, get to a certain place in my career and I think that I am just totally scared," Zoe tells her infinitely patient husband Rodger. "I know myself and I do everything, like, 500 per cent, and when I'm a mum that's all I'm going to want to do... I can't slow down from work, just so you understand. I have a lot of people counting on me and a lot of money at stake, just so you know... I just don't want to be in denial about that."
Of course, that's a bunch of crapola to rational Rodger, who desperately wants a baby.
"If you choose that this child – God willing we have one – and this child is your everything, well, great, then it's your everything," he reasons. "And then the other stuff; we're not going to be as hugely successful, but you know what, who cares? As long as we're happy... There's no contest; there's no competition. It's your own internal I-don't-know-what that drives you, but, you know what, it's kind of silly, at the end of the day."
Is it silly this career stuff? Lately I've been thinking that maybe it is... if it impinges on your personal life (and health) to the extent that it creates barriers between you and your partner; and between your heart's desires and what the world deems to be markers of success.
Many, many women have children and careers and cope just fine. I admire their resilience. Others have careers and would love children but no (willing) partners with whom to reproduce. My heart goes out to them. And still more have careers and want children but can't (radio presenter and blogger Emily Jade O'Keefe has been endearingly open on this front). Others just make really smart, rational decisions.
Speaking to Mia Freedman (who has three children; two while she was working in magazines) in an intimate video chat recently, former magazine editor and TV host Lisa Wilkinson, also the mother of three children, said something that really resonated with me about jumping off the corporate ladder to invest time into family rearing:
"I just thought, I've worked hard for a long time, I've saved up; if I can't be smart enough to say, It's okay to take some time out and to be a mum and to professionally jump off a cliff and not know that there's a parachute that's going to help me through wherever I land. It was a very liberating thing to just go, you know what, I'm going to put time into my personal life, put time into being a mum, put time into my family; whatever happens beyond here, I have had the best ride."
Mr and Mrs Satchel have been contemplating baby-making for a while now, too, under the watchful gaze of well-meaning friends and family who would like to see me up the duff and Mr Satchel brandishing a baby in his arms. In fact, most people in our social circle have newborns or are pregnant. Our best friends have a beautiful new baby girl. We adore her. It almost pains me to see Mr Satchel nursing her, such is his longing for one of his own. He and Rodger could relate.
Thankfully, most people are sensitive enough to realise that we have just emerged (still emerging!) from a two-year battle with an eating disorder that has put things back for us. It has been a major impediment, mentally, physically and emotionally. I feel terribly guilty about that. We've also been investing heavily into getting our marriage to a healthy place as I've gained back my weight, while also trying to get our finances ship-shape (no secret that my blogging and his ministry work alone do not pay the bills).
That's going well. Do we want a baby? Yes. Am I pregnant? No. Do we have time on our side? A little. I'm just shy of 30. Comfortingly, though a very unique proposition itself, in 2004 ACP Magazines' Deborah Thomas spoke to the ABC about having her first child aged 46:
"I was very career-obsessed. And I would obsess about things that probably there was no need to obsess about. But now it... I just have this much clearer view of what life is and what life should be, and the balance to life. Watching [baby Oscar] every day, the joy that he brings into my life, going in there in the morning, and he smiles and his face lights up, it's just extraordinary... Having a baby late in life was not something that I planned. I'm very, very glad it happened, and it's worked out very well for me, so far. And I can't believe I nearly missed out on this – it's the best thing that's ever happened in my life. I'm so glad I've done it."
High-profile career, husband and a baby? She is incredibly blessed. I have faith that we might be one day, too.
Girl With a Satchel