The Tension Over Doing It All

Why are women more unhappy than ever?

I began with the best intentions. A few weekends ago, while my husband was working out-of-town, I planned to work at least 10 hours on my dissertation, crank out a 1,500-word article plus two blog posts, prep for some upcoming interviews, dissect a single chapter of John Paul's Theology of the Body with a friend, and finally read (and write a book review of) three other books in preparation for an upcoming speaking engagement. While this schedule may seem crazy and chaotic to some, for me this break-necked speed felt normal until just a little less than a year ago. Anything less and I felt unaccomplished and downright bored.

Enter my daughter, Little Miss Marathon, who, on her very best days, slept three to four hours straight and ate only the minimum required for her age. For the past six months (i.e. her whole life), we'd been trying to figure out ways to get her to sleep and eat—but it seemed that all she wanted to do was go, go, go. Her energy levels made even me feel like a century-old centipede. And all this came to a roaring head that particular weekend.

After 24 hours of my baby screaming, not sleeping, and fighting food at every turn, I finally decided to step back, relax, and let her decide how much she was going to eat and when. By Sunday, she was a new baby—both her eating and sleeping had regulated themselves into a more normal pattern. On one hand, I felt successful in my role as a mother because my baby was now comfortable and content; in another sense, I felt like a failure for not doing every single thing on my to-do list.

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