At age 16, I thought I’d have the world at my feet by the time I was 30. I’d rule the corporate world, killing it with fancy, tailored suits and a crisp English accent. Sound familiar?
I never ruled. Heck, I didn’t even make it to the tailored suits, although I did impress with the oratory skills (I think). Then these beautiful babies came along and I succumbed to my own saccharine version of life in domesticity. Motherhood is my calling. I cannot explain it but it is an outpouring of emotion, an overwhelming sense of self that I’d never imagined possible. Connected to these individuals, I enjoy every nuance of life, its spectacular ability to create miracles and its continued gift of discovery. As I watch my boys grow and thrive, everything else seems insignificant in comparison.
The world judges you on your ability to seem ambitious, successful and professionally occupied. I found that out right away. “Don’t you have a job?” “What do you do all day?” “Are you happy being a stay-at-home mom?” “What are you going to do when the kids grow up?” Unfortunately, these opinion hackathons really undermined my joy, often leading me down dark paths of self-doubt and introspection. Am I less of a person because I choose not to juggle multiple tasks? Am I weak for taking the easy way out and devoting time exclusively to my children?
Double incomes do allow some monetary flexibility, but in the initial years, these choices are offset by expensive day care costs and invariable reliance on others for assistance. This is neither a feminist rant about women pitching in, nor is it the old school rhetoric that men must provide while women must nurture. This is a confession that I’ve struggled (as do many other women) with the ‘career-vs motherhood’ dilemma, ever since I’ve made my choice. I am not incapable of doing both at the same time. I merely detest the suggestion that a full-time-mom is less worthy than a woman juggling both career and motherhood.
When the boys started school, I did return to work. Daily routines became a struggle. Everything seemed chaotic. Intense. Tiring. Some days were easy, others not so much. Juggling home, work and children who need attention is never easy. I truly admire men and women who seem to be able to do it all. Truly.
I am currently on my second career break. I will return to the grind soon enough. Until then, I enjoy a few lazy mornings, some extra cuddles before bedtime, perks such as greeting young ones as they return home from school. All that, without having to worry about spreadsheets or calling in sick, meeting deadlines while nursing a sick child or just overcoming the mayhem of getting everything done by the end of each day.
Some of the lessons I have learnt over time:
- Never judge another – we all make choices that work best for us
- Never lose sight of the goal – Make your choice and live with it. Naysayers are your best source of inspiration. They know what you are good at and try to take it away from you.
- Heed your heart – The mind plays truant, but the heart always knows. In times of doubt, let it take the lead.
- The struggle is continuous and real.