When I was growing up, I heard that women could have it all.
We could have careers, raise children, and make a good living, maybe even better than the men in our lives.
Damn, it sounded peachy. It sounded easy.
I always imagined myself working and as a success.
I never pictured myself as a timid wallflower, and so far that has been more than true, but for the first time in my life I am realizing that the old 70’s-80’s feminism lied to me.
I can’t have it all.
And while many of you probably feel like you’re a success and probably are, I happen to think that a bunch of you probably feel like you are failing to some degree or another, in managing that career and kids our generation said we’d have no problem managing.
I commute a long distance from my job. I’m working on changing that, but I end up clocking in a 64 hour work week.
I love my job, but I never see my kid.
I don’t mean that my time with her is cut down. I mean I don’t know what she will be eating for lunch most of the time.
I mean I am gone so much that I never eat a single meal with her all week, until Saturday.
I mean, I don’t drop her off at her grandparents or school. Or pick her up.
I mean, I get to put her to bed 3 weeknights a week, sometimes 4.
I make use of the time I have with her on the weekend, and the few nights a week I get to bathe her and put her to bed, but do I have it all?
This is not the image of a balanced life I was sold as a kid.
I feel like I am not a mother, but merely a walk-on who gets to play mother on the weekends.
And of course, when I have to leave early because my kid is sick or I take off to attend a school function, I shove in my work within a short time frame, and leave early, watching others working hard, feeling guilty that I am not clocking in the exact same hours that they are.
Do I have it all?
I can’t have it all. I can’t always be at the office, and I can’t always be home.
I work hard and parent well, but inside I am feeling like a failure.
When I get to work, I am in the zone, enjoying what I do, but when I got a call the other day that my kid was sick and I couldn’t get her until hours later because I live far from my job, the bus schedules blow, and traffic was terrible, I got home feeling like crap.
I couldn’t stay the full day at work. I couldn’t be there for my kid.
How am I doing a good job at all, as a parent, I wonder?
Even if you’re just dropping off and picking up your kid, you’re clocking in parenting time. You’re part of the daily routine.
I went from being in charge of my kid’s day and mostly at home, to becoming a mom-spector. Do I exist? Do I matter anymore?
You’ll tell me I do, but I don’t believe I do.
Am I saying you shouldn’t have a career? Absolutely not.
Go out and get one. Do it! I love what I do…
But find a life balance.
Make sure you’re with someone who sees things as you do, and then both of your prepare a plan for when you have kids how duties will be shared, especially finances. If you can, save ahead of time so you can go down to part-time work, or telecommute if you are able. If you want to work full-time, that’s great, but be sure that your situation will enable you to stay in the picture. Trust me.
My kid is 2.5. Her moments mean more than a paycheck.
We can’t have it all. We cannot be perfect. We will have to leave early. We will have to miss out on moments with our kids that will hurt. We will feel hopeless at times, and even feel as if we are doing nothing right.
But most importantly, at least we know the truth: we cannot have it all, but we can have what we need, and that’s what matters. Figuring out what you need will make you a happy working mom.