I have been thinking a lot about motherhood this week. I have also been thinking a lot about my old life where I had a high-profile career and made good money. This is most likely brought on by the fact the kids started school this week, which means I will have more time on my hands and my “role” in the family needs to be redefined. I have to regroup and embrace the fact that this year is all about bonding with my family. My job is on pause right now.
One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was from Chris’s uncle’s wife’s sister. Try saying that three times fast! Phyllis is Uncle Michael’s sister-in-law and I met her at his 70th birthday party a few years ago. She is in finance and serves as a mentor for women in the work force. I was lamenting about the difficulties of being a mother working in a fast-paced career outside the home. She looked at me and said, “Women break their backs trying to do everything because we have been told we can have it all. Well, I tell the women I mentor that you can have it all, just not at the same time.”
Of course! This makes total sense. I spent my early twenties training in medical school and residency. I had my first child during my fourth year of medical school. I had my second child during my first year as faculty in San Antonio. I spent my first two years as faculty doing the minimum I needed to get by so I could spend time with my kids during my weeks off service. Then I went into high-gear and dove head first into the cut throat world of academics where I did not care who I stepped over to get to the top. At the end, I realized that the only person I was hurting was myself…..and my children. So I quit my job and decided to be a stay at home mom for at least one year.
I know that after 1-2 years of Pura Vida in Costa Rica I may go back to the USA. I will likely take my old job back, or another similar job somewhere else. But I know that I will not go back to my old tricks. I will have a better sense of self and family. I will not let my career suck me into the never ending vortex of working like crazy to buy stuff I don’t need. I will also have the wonderful memories we will have built during these years. Those will keep me in line.
Don’t let ANYONE make you feel guilty because you are leaving work early to make it to your child’s soccer game. Don’t feel bad for taking a sick day to stay home with a sick baby. Family and career can mix. They don’t mix well, but they can. Sometimes you need to take a break from one to care for the other. Sometimes you will ignore one to nurture the other. And it is better that you ignore your career than your family. No one ever lies on their death bed and thinks, “I wish I had spent more time at the office”…. I have had the career. It just went on the shelf. Now its time for the family.