For some stupid and naive reason, I always thought that once I became an adult, or rather, once I had a family and little beings that called me “mom,” I’d have life pretty much figured out. I would “have it all.” I would have, or be about to accomplish, all that I wanted to professionally and I would juggle mommy and wifehood with ease and grace. Oh, and I would be in the best shape of my life (if nothing else because my family would keep me so busy that my active lifestyle would keep me fit and my desire to have my family eat healthily would equally be a benefit). Instead, somewhat the contrary has happened.
I was on my way to living the professional dream and then bam, kids happened. First came Gigi, seven and a half years ago. Then her brother showed up three years later to equally fill my heart. And there’s also a husband involved, my partner on this journey. These three beings are my everything and the greatest blessings of my life. After fifteen years working in corporate and nonprofit public relations and marketing, that life stopped, and I became a stay-at-home mom and wife. I’m not in the best shape of my life either and don’t feel like I “have it all,” mostly because I haven’t figured out the professional side of my life and can’t seem to find more balance, post family.
Let me be clear. I am an excellent mother — not perfect but if I had to toot my own horn about anything at this point in my life, it would be that my kids are happy, healthy, well-adjusted beings. So I can at least check that box in the “having it all” list. Then again, my kids are young…this is really just starting for me and is sure to be the most challenging and rewarding job to come.
I’ve dibbled and dabbled in a few jobs, consulting here and there, since my career pretty much ended but the reality is work doesn’t feel the same for me after having kids because the sacrifice of time is too great. The things that interested me pre-family would never work post-family — I want more time with them, I want more mental capacity to be with them and I don’t have the same patience for working with incompetent, lazy people in the workplace. And so, I am forced to switch gears and rediscover what else I’m good at, what else is interesting and motivating, professionally, that is family friendly. And I have to do this while also being mommy.
I know I’m not the first mom and wife to be in this position. It seems to be a universal phenomenon — women around the world are torn by responsibility, most just trying to stay afloat with the hectic schedule of life and its many demands. But it’s this knowing that I’m not the first one to be in this place that has me stuck. How can we better learn from and support each other in this phase of life? Even when our experiences and backgrounds differ, in some form or fashion this notion of “who am I now” and “what do I want now” comes up. It’s difficult enough to figure out when it’s just you but throw in there the mix of a husband and children and the question seems infinitely more difficult to answer.
But I’m not the first person to experience all of this — this is a decades old struggle so again, why aren’t we further along as a culture, a country, a world? Isn’t there an app yet for this? Something that helps direct a sleep-deprived, overly stretched, multi-tasking mom with a daily roadmap that ensures blissful work/life balance? Perhaps something like the “FitForLife” app only instead of nutritional information it would provide specific action steps, timing figured out, and proposed outcomes? Based on your personal input of daily activities, it would surmise — if you want more time with your family and want to still contribute to society and make a living, then you should do “X” or “Y” by “Z.”
Women are powerful beings, capable of unlimited potential and this has been an age-old issue for far too long. Surely we can crack this nut and figure something out so that more women don’t have to figure it out completely for themselves after they have a family (which is only the most blissful, stressful, busy time in a woman’s life).