On my way to work this morning, I saw a woman in her early thirties. She was smartly dressed, in a business suit, and looked like a lawyer or other professional also on her way to work. She trotted along in her high-heeled court shoes, a slight frown on her face. She was probably thinking about an issue at work.
Her frown was soon replaced by a distant look, probably her running through her work checklist. She then smiled slightly, as if she were making plans as to what to do that evening, maybe to relax after a long day at work. Anyone looking at her would think what an easy and comfortable life she had. A good job which probably afforded her the comforts of life.
But if you looked carefully, you would see that woman was uncomfortable in those high heels, heels that she had not worn for over three years. Looked even closer, and you would see that her frown was to suppress her tears, tears that wanted to fall like those of her two young children she left at daycare that morning. The distant look was her wondering whether her household could still make ends meet if she reduced her working days or quit work altogether, so that she could be there for her children during the day. The plans were far from focused on relaxing after a long day at work, but rather focused on a countdown to seeing her kids and hugging them. Ever so tightly. As if that would relinquish some of the guilt and heartache of nine hours separation a day.
A woman who always wanted a career as a lawyer. But who also wanted to be a mother. A woman who didn't realise she would have to choose between the two, and would feel guilty either way. Guilt towards her young children for leaving them in daycare to go to work. Or if she quit, guilt towards her younger self, the years spent making sacrifices and working hard through school, university, law school and training in order to enter her dream profession. And frustration towards the promoted beliefs that a woman can and should have both when, in reality, she feels if she does try, she will end up having neither.
That woman will walk the walk as long as she can, in a business suit and those high heels. And most people will look at her and think what a comfortable life she has. But deep down inside, every day she will be fighting a battle.