A few days ago marked the eighth birthday of my son, Jack. When we took him out to breakfast I told him about the day he was born which led to thoughts of where I was in my life at the time I was pregnant with him and then after I returned to work. All of these memories swirled around in my head as I continued to contemplate the recent commentary on women having it all based on Anne-Marie Slaghter’s thoughts.
When I was pregnant with Jack eight years ago I worked full time. After he was born I reduced my hours to part time and then figured out I was doing the same amount of work but getting paid a part-time salary. I also noticed I was more conflicted working part-time than when I worked full time. It was an uncomfortable position to be in and one that made me feel guilty a lot. I felt like I wasn’t performing the role of employee or mother well. After awhile I went back to full-time work thinking that would be a better solution. And for some time, that schedule (and pay) gave me greater clarity.
When I had my first two children I also ran the gamut of figuring out what I wanted. I tried not working, working part-time at home as a consultant and working full time at another agency.
When I worked full time at an agency, I found myself with a 50 minute commute through the mountains and often traveled in the dark.
A few weeks into my job and I was driving back home and came across a person mooning me in the middle of the highway. I figured it was a sign to quit that rat race. So I did. After three weeks on the job. (I’m a fast learner.)
Over the years I have figured out a few things about myself. The first is that I am happiest when I am working. And that doesn’t mean happy only at work. It means that I am a much happier person all around, at work or at home. And having a happy mom means a lot to my children.
The other thing I figured out is I define my own success. No one else does it for me. It doesn’t come from other women telling me what to do or think I should be doing. It’s a personal decision that needs to be respected by all women. The other thing I have learned over the years is that life fluctuates and you have to fluctuate with it. What worked a year ago, might not necessarily work today. And that’s OK.
Fast forward to today, and I now have four children and run a business. Are there sacrifices? Of course there are. Do I make every event my children are in? No. But we, as a family, make sure that either me, my husband or my mom are there to cheer them on as they grow. Is life easy? No way. But I have learned to roll with the punches and not sweat the small stuff.
Do I think I have it all? That’s not the right question to ask. Am I happy? One hundred percent yes.