I’m Trading My Career for Motherhood. Neither Will Fulfill Me.

This isn’t a female problem, but a human one.

The sight of an airplane soaring above me used to make my eyes sting with longing. At that time, I was a college dropout, a 52-pound brittle skeleton, years of anorexia having gnawed me down to little more than organs and skin.

Whenever I heard the planes, I would look up at the sky and imagine the people up there, busy living life, probably flying to important business meetings and conferences in Hong Kong or Los Angeles, or whatever important things people who aren’t dying of an eating disorder do. And I would stop to clutch at the visceral ache in my chest, remembering the days when I dreamed of becoming a journalist who traveled the world.

Twenty years later, I am doing exactly that. I write long-form stories from around the world. I am now that busy person on the plane, flying to meetings and conferences. I’ve ridden on horseback in the jungles of Burma to report on an unconventional humanitarian aid organization; flown a two-passenger airplane over the ice kingdoms of remote Alaska to report on Alaska Natives; driven past giraffes and gazelles grazing in open fields while reporting on missions to Chinese migrants in Kenya.

I am finally living the dream that seemed like a fantasy 20 years ago, when I had lost all purpose and meaning in life. But now, pregnant with my second child, I’m giving it up to be a stay-at-home mother, for who knows how long—and I am not okay.

I know how incredibly privileged I am to have the option not to work. I also know it’s a blessing to have children when so many women struggle with infertility and miscarriage. So it’s with some shame that I confess: I’m terrified of the upcoming transition from working mother to stay-at-home mother.

I have nursed this …

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