I screamed a big ‘ole “F YOU” to Oprah.
Ok - it was only through my car speakers, but I screamed it, and I meant it. And at Oprah of all people -- Mama Ophs, the living breathing angel lady, giver of wisdom and hauler of wagon fat. The glorious woman who I was pretty sure could never wrong me, even if she gave every single audience member a car and me a dead fish - any gift from her would be magical. Oprah is magical.
But she crossed a line.
I was driving home from a long work day of my job as a publicist. I was pregnant, starving, and completely deflated emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually -- ya know, in all the ways possible really. I was already wiped, and the second I pulled in my driveway and opened my front door I knew I would have to start my second job of being a mom to a crazy curly-haired toddler who likes to yell “SHH STOP TALKING EVERYONE” if the attention isn’t all on her. Jesus help us all.
To boost my ever-cynical mood about feeling like a big, tired slow-moving cow with a hormone imbalance (can you tell I loved being pregnant?) I had started listening to inspirational podcasts in the car, rather than the usual true crime trash. (Murder is hot right now folks)
So, I put on an episode of Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, where she was speaking with Shonda Rhimes -- the brainchild behind all the best television dramas like Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder. Love me some Shonda - Shonda Land forever, give me all of her television love triangles and heart wrenching character deaths, I accept them with open TV arms.
Like the majority of the human race, I had been an Oprah fan for decades, and basked myself in her light, energy and 90’s bangs since since grade school, when my mom and I would turn the show in the afternoon and eat stick pretzels, tuna with pickle relish and drink one too-many diet cokes.
But in my car on that podcast, Oprah was just the worst. And, for that matter, Shonda was the worst too. Yes Shonda, you are also getting thrown under my little cranky bus.
They were discussing their choices not to marry, and how they felt it would impact their careers. I get that, sure. You go ladies, I support this decision! Pro-women! You-do-you!
Shonda, however, said she always wanted to have kids - three of them, and she did make that dream come true. Woo! Single mom of three - dang girl, mad respect. Round of applause to that amazing feat!
But then things got real freaking annoying.
Shonda was explaining how she felt she couldn’t be a mom, and married, and also a writer, and Oprah eagerly agreed. Word for word, Oprah said:
“People always say you can be either a writer or have kids. You can be writer or get married. But there isn’t room for all of it,”
Shonda cheered her on.
And then I freaked out. Cue the cursing at "Oprah the car giving fairy" and the woman who brought us Meredith Gray.
Because guess what - I want to be a writer. It has always been my dream to be a full time, book slinging, straight up author. I have literally prayed for that dream to leave because it is pretty dang frustrating and hard at times (I wish my dream was to become and accountant) but alas, I can’t deny that writing and creating and art are part of my making and I am not giving up.
But, I also have a two-year-old daughter, and a brand spanking new infant son. And, I have been married for a decade. So, let’s break it all down:
According to Oprah and Shonda, these two successful, amazing, talented women - I screwed up big time. I added one-too-many things to my buffet plate, and I am destined to never reach my goals, because I have a loving husband and cute clan of offspring.
Thanks guys for that.
With all this talk lately about women supporting women and lifting each other up, this seemed the be the stark opposite. This did not feel pro-women. This did not feel supportive. This felt like two very influential gals just squashed a ton peoples of dreams, in one simple sentence.
The reason this rubbed me so wrong was because I was already struggling with career, calling and balancing that with my family life -- but I was struggling, not abandoning. And then to be blatantly told what I wanted was impossible -- BY OPRAH -- was just a bit too much for a hormonal, hangy hustling gal to handle.
And yes, having kids can be crazy. It is all-consuming and stretches you in ways you didn’t realize you were even able to bend (physically and metaphorically). But it is also a source of refinement, laughter, and love like nothing else.
And I guess being married is ...a commitment? I don’t know - to me having someone who loves and supports me and also is readily available to drink wine and binge on Netflix with has not really been a hindrance, but a straight up blessing.
Marriage and kids yes, take up a lot of you, but they also add a lot to you. They give you unconditional love and the comfort of creating a home. What they don’t really do, is stop me from reaching my dreams. (SHOUT OUT KYLE - you cool bro.)
Someone else does hold me back though - wanna know who? (It’s not Oprah. I was pissed for about 3 hours, ate some spaghetti and was able to move on. But I have since returned to true crime podcasts, which apparently don’t crush my soul as much, which is a bit terrifying)
The person who holds me back from my dreams is myself. It is me. Hi there - nice to meet you. Because there is always time and a way to carve space out for yourself, even when things are crazy and life seems beyond full. But it is my own brain and procrastination and fear and negativity that keep me from moving forward. It isn’t my husband, who has always cheered me on. It isn’t my daughter or this 8 lb little man stuck to my body most of the day - being an example to them has given me more drive than ever before.
It’s me. So Oprah, what do you have to say to that? I am not battling against marriage or motherhood, just myself, like so many of us are. And while some days may look better than others, I do know one thing: I am not giving up. I may move a little slower right now,, or my weekends may be a little more taken up with family beach trips than solo writing marathons at the coffee shop, but I am continuing to move forward. Continuing to try and fight past all that I am doing to hold myself back. And that, to me, is an accomplishment in itself.