Home > Gratitude Challenge > Day Four: Can Career & Motherhood Co-exist?

Day Four: Can Career & Motherhood Co-exist?

Day four as a blogger and I am already getting rambunctious, wanting to tackle the big hairy issue of career and motherhood, work/life balance or lack thereof.  I know this topic is an explosive land mine…  Yearning for an answer a couple of years ago, I posted an entry on the Palo Alto Menlo Park Mother’s Club forum titled “Is it really impossible to “have it all”?”   I was surprised (and not surprised) to receive close to 100 impassioned responses to my post within a couple of hours.  I know I’ve hit a nerve.  As you can imagine with any highly personal topic, there was a diversity of views.  However, out of the 100 or so of responses, only a couple of women thought that it was possible to “have it all”.  Most thought that the price would be too high to pay, or that you could have it all but just not at the same time.  Further, regardless of which side of the fence the women who wrote me sat, they felt judged by others for their choice.  But at the same time, they are aware and apologetic that they are judging others for their choices.

So why stir up this land mine again…?  For those of you who have read my previous posts, you know that I am participating in Tiny Prints’ 21-Day Gratitude Challenge. Today is Day Four of the Challenge, and my task is to think about something “negative” and write a message of “thanks” for it.  You see where I’m going…?  For the most part, I am pretty happy with my life.  I’d have to struggle to find any major negatives that doesn’t come across as whiny…  If there’s something legitimate that I could want (see, this gratitude exercise is already working, I’m focusing on what could be vs. what isn’t!), it would be having more time and energy to devote to motherhood while still enjoying my challenging and fulfilling new job at a start-up.

See, herein lies the challenge.  How do I give thanks to lack of time to spend with my kids, who mean more to me than anything else in the whole wide world???

I could take the easy route and say “it’s about the quality of time you spend together and not the quantity”, but the truth of the matter is that there are days when I’m so tired from work that all I could do is go against the collective wisdom of child rearing experts and just turn on Sesame Street for the kids.  And then there was the one time (swear it only happened once) when I fell asleep sitting next to them on the couch after a long day in the office.  The tug between what I think a great mom should or would do vs. the reality of what I could or did do gnaws at me constantly.  How do I give thanks to it?

A mentor of mine once made a comment to me that probably changed my whole outlook on this issue.  She said, “if you’re choosing between either vs. or, you’ll never solve for the and.”  So I guess the first thing I’m thankful for is asking the question that feels right for me.  I don’t claim to have an answer yet, but I no longer feel cornered as I once did.  There is a lot of power to feeling this way.

I am also thankful this journey has taught me that for me work/life balance is about balancing passions and not hours.  I have learned what’s truly important to me vs. what I once thought was but really isn’t important to me (i.e.,  home cooked meals, furnished house, or a working light-bulb in every socket…)   Most importantly, this journey has forced me to think hard about what would really make a difference in how my kids turn out.  I admit that I’m not always so zen about it.  At least once a day I still feel a mini pang of anxiety that my kids won’t be the popular ones in school because I won’t be there to fill their schedule with play dates, or that they won’t be well-adjusted socially because I never got around to signing them up for swimming lessons or tennis camp…

Finally, with the exceptions of those rare instances I quoted two paragraphs above for dramatic effect, I really do cherish my time with the kids so much more.  In the time we have together, I try hard to impart values that are important to me, such as sitting down for family dinner every night, or starting a gratitude journal with my four-year-old to chronicle everything we’re grateful for every day.  I feel great about the choices I’ve made, and as a result I hope I’m giving them a role model of following your passions and being fully engaged at what you choose to do.  And for all this I’m grateful.

Categories: Gratitude Challenge
  1. August 21, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    I read this in the morning (from my iPhone- LOVE it!) but didn’t comment right away. Now I am glad I didn’t because I got to see in your and Laura’s blog a running theme on balancing motherhood and career. A very compelling topic.

  2. August 22, 2009 at 9:33 am

    What a wonderful way to impart the message of gratitude to your children…a gratitude journal. Will make a wonderful keepsake for the future, to savor these moments. Great idea!

  1. September 21, 2009 at 12:46 am

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