In 1981, Norway's first female prime minister, Gro Harlem Brundtland, was elected. Before serving as prime minister, she had worked as a physician, first at the Directorate of Health (Helsedirektoratet), after that as a doctor in Oslo's public school health service. In 1989, after her third term as prime minister, she was elected Director-General of the World Health Organization. In 2004, the Financial Times listed Brundtland the 4th most influential European over the last 25 years, behind Pope John Paul II, Mikhail Gorbachev and Margaret Thatcher.
"Gro" was also the mother of four and she looked a whole lot like my mom. And she told us that it was "best to be Norwegian."
(Photo of Gro Harlem Brundtland, courtsey nrk)
So though my mom was a stay-at-home mom with some part-time office gigs, I never questioned my opportunity to be just like "Gro" when I grew up; to have a career, and be a mom.
Diaz has another perspective. In InStyle's July issue, she explains, "I grew up in the '80s, when women who were powerful wore men's suits and couldn't have families and were tough as nails. Then in the '90s, women decided, Wait, I want to have kids and a career, I want it all. And now we're discovering in our first decade of the new century that you can't do all of it--not well--all at once. Sometimes you have to pick and choose. And that has to be good enough, having faith that you're doing the best that you can." (183)
Frankly, I am amazed and impressed by Diaz' perspective. I entered motherhood naively thinking I could continue to have a full-fledged career while being a full-fledged (as in fully present and attached) mom.
How wrong I was.
I guess, had I never left Norway, I might have stayed at home the first year of my child's life, on fully paid parental leave (established in 1946, it has grown steadily from 12 weeks in 1946 to 42 weeks, with no salary reduction, by 1993, or 52 weeks with a 20% reduction), and then gone back to work with my child in state subsidized daycare as almost all other moms in Norway do. And then I probably would have returned to a full-time career while perceiving myself a very well-attached and present mom for my child.