I cannot remember a time when I did not want to be a parent. My desire to have a child has been there for as long as I can remember, so when Reagan came along I was thrilled. I remember driving home shortly after my husband and I had decided to start trying and I just burst into tears because I was so excited that this stage of my life was happening. If you had asked me that day, I would have told you I HAD IT ALL. I was married, had earned my Master's degree, was a homeowner, working full-time, and now I was starting a family. That was my definition to having exactly what I wanted.
As it always does, time and circumstances change. And a baby changes everything. After Reagan arrived and 9 short weeks later I returned to my job, I became uncertain if I could balance working full-time and motherhood, let alone be successful at either. Without a spouse who had schedule flexibility or the ability to spend a lot of time at home, the majority of childcare feel to me and I started to buckle under the burden. Now I had the family I wanted, but could I still say I HAD IT ALL? If you had asked me this about a year ago, my sleep deprived, stressed out self would have told you I had too much.
Again, time changes things, and I started to find my groove. My husband took a new job which gave him a lot more stability in his schedule and I found that routine helped me feel more balanced. I could sleep through the night again finally and I wasn't crying just thinking about my crazy schedule. Though we are not without our ups and downs, unexpected issues, and occasionally suffer from every germ day care throws at us, life got better. At least it felt more normal and manageable. So now, did I have it all again? Was this what life was "supposed" to be like in order to have it all?
I've decided the whole idea of trying to evaluate having it all is complete crap. It's focused too much on other people's opinions, status quo, accomplishments, and possessions. I decided to try to take a different point of view. Did I feel the life I was living was rewarding, blessing God, and building up others?
CNN has had a few articles about this lately, mostly from the after math of Yahoo!'s CEO making major changes to telecommuting. The article I read yesterday had some interesting view points from women in a variety of life stages and careers. My favorite line was from Valarie Kaur who said "I am learning to embrace not just my career but my own fuller vision of what makes a good life." I imagine we may define what makes life good differently, but I also bet we can all relate to that desire.
I recently wrote about my desire to seek more joy in my life, and I think if I can better understand how I would define the good life then the joy will also find me.
I enjoy my job, I feel as though I have a purpose and impact at doing what I do. However, I also need to be able to feel guilt free when my time and energy goes into that job. That's something I am going to have to figure out how to overcome. It's not wrong to work (or to stay home for that matter) but it is wrong to feel guilt about making that decision. It's a reality for me that my income is necessary for my family so working is best for us. There are advantages and disadvantages of this, no need for debate. Working is my reality, so I need to push aside mommy guilt and find joy in my work.
I also enjoy leaving my job at 5 pm and going home to spend time with my daughter. I enjoy weekends off, and the ability to take sick leave to care for my child or vacation day to spend time with family. These things are possible because of my job. I find it absolutely necessary to leave work at work, and devote time to just being present and engaged with my daughter. For me, joy is found when I can completely unplug from the office and just be a mom. Having the ability to seperate work and personal life is critical for me and also thankfully possible.
In my case "having it all" will mean going to work with a guilt free, cheerful heart and savoring the non-working time by spending it loving my kid. It can not be about achieving a certain job title or pay check. I won't find joy there, but I find it in the balance I strive to achieve in work and family.
Perhaps I am not as career driven as some, or define the good life in the same you would. That does not matter. I have to keep striving to find a way to find happiness in the things that do consume my time and energy or to change the things I give my time and energy to. In that mindset I will feel content, and in that I will find joy. When I can choose to live a life that my maker would approve, finding joy will be his blessing.
And if bubbles in the tub isn't joy, what is?