After reading Steve Roesler 's post "Work-Life Balance Isn't",I was reminded these conflicting representations of Women Archetypes I have always had in my mind.
Demeter is the Goddess of grain and fertility, the pure. Nourisher of the youth and the green earth, the health-giving cycle of life and death, and preserver of marriage and the sacred law
Artemis is the Hellenic goddess of forests and hills, child birth, virginity, fertility, the hunt, and often was depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrows
Here's how I described myself in the incredibly long comment I wrote at "All Things Workplace":
" This has been the story of my life ever since I graduated from Business School and chose to be pregnant at the same time .
Warning: this is a very personal description of my quest, copied from the "guts reaction" comment I left on Steve's blog.Please feel free to skip to my next posts, "Can we Have it All" and "Can GenY Women have it All".
1) Graduating, getting married, giving birth,facing death,within 6 months…
"While taking care of my baby and staying at home, I was eager to prove my value and start my career. The first shock came with a lesson learned from my little girl. I was breast-feeding her (it was really not main-stream 23 years ago) and had no clue how it worked. I had some very good "young moms self-help" books and I believed every word I read.
It said: "After 3 months, it's fine to stop breast-feeding. You can start weaning." Followed by a very detailed explanation of the 5 steps weaning process.(I can't help laughing tenderly at the young ignorant mother I was then, remembering that)
My plan was to look for a job available after 3 months, hire a nanny and take off.
Okay.If it's written, it must be true ?
The problem is that my baby had decided she liked being breast fed very much and had made her mind. No matter how hard I tried, she never accepted any bottle,she would rather refuse to have anything else. There I was, postponing the time when I would go back to the workplace.I surrendered.I chose Demeter, but rather a forced choice, not an adult and conscious choice. It had an impact during 8 years!"
I learned so many lessons during that period, where I would also experience the worst, the sudden death of my father, while I was 7 months pregnant of his first grand child.
Major life experiences at 22, influencing my future choices.
2) Studying, interpreting, another child, working and traveling, divorce.
I was still dreaming of my ideal job ,exploring the world of personal development Training,working occasionally as an interpreter for English-Speaking Seminars.
" My son was born in Aix-en-Provence and I was coaching my (ex) husband in his career.I clearly projected on him what I wanted to do. He succeeded very well in directing a consulting swiss firm (Krauthammer International) specialized in Leadership Trainings…He was always on the road and under a lot of pressure.I took all the possible self improvement seminars and started studying NLP and Transactional Analysis , traveling to the London, Barcelona and even New York (where I spent nine months). I was a very guilty Artemis, in a Demeter's skin…(or the other way around!).I was not happy at home, either.We looked for help, but too late.Our marriage was a failure, the separation very costly and painful and I moved back to my home town, Lyon."
3) Earning a living,facilitating trainings in Communication Skills,re creating my family, building our home.
Ever since that time,(1992), I have been working as a free- lance consultant in Human Resources and teaching in business schools and corporate Universities.I felt I was expressing my "Artemis" part more and more.
"I met my husband J.M. and understood what a commited and loving relationship could be.We married and moved in the countryside of Lyon in a big old house with
my two children,…and his two children for weekends and holidays, from a previous marriage.
We re-created another family and Demeter would pop up and stay when I was pregnant and the following 3 years…Then, gradually, Artemis would show up and claim her piece of the cake. I would feel that strong urge to go out of my home and meet the world(the "woods"), create outside, connect, share and also be independent.
I worked part time for 3 years after my third child was born,completely fond of my training and coaching business, enjoying teaching and leading seminars.I would be traveling more and more, with the support and care of my husband, who had clearly identified this drive in me.
To end this long story of Demeter and Artemis,
"I thought the age difference would be too big between my eldest kids and my baby, so we decided to have another child… Surprise! We had marvelous Twins! A girl and a boy!
I am proud to say their pregnancy and birth was the happiest and most challenging times of my life, and I insisted (and succeeded) in breast feeding them both! And I never really stopped working, I reduced considerably during 3 years, but always kept a toe…The more they grow up, the more I learn about leadership. Clarifying your mission and values and taking the steps to achieve your goals. "
All these times, the relentless questions were struggling in my mind: Is Demeter preferable to Artemis? Should I chose between the two and commit only to one?
And YOU? How do you cope?Are you aware of your priorities?
Here I am, at 46,with 5 children and two step children,still struggling, happily, joyfully, courageously, thanks to the love I'm surrounded with by my husband, thanks to my wonderful family!
We still live in the beautiful old golden stone house.We have made choices.It's not always a garden of roses, and we have our share of trials and frustrations.We 're dreaming of traveling the world, all together.We have to wait.We are grateful for our blessings. Every day.
My Twins are almost twelve and I feel like I'm really ready to invest full-time in Artemis…This is the reason why I called my consulting business Geronimo, an Apache Chief Warrior, not a gentle stay-in-the-Tippee Squaw…But this is another story…Read "Can we Have it All?"