|BabyM wonders if she has it all|
And of course, everyone MUST weigh in, as we always do. I'm no different. I've been reading Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach, which is a combination cookbook, memoir and guidebook on how to pull together family meals. (Something I really, really need help with, before the God of Tater Tots installs himself permanently in our house.)
Rosenstrach talks about returning to her job after maternity leave, reading articles and attending lectures about working motherhood. One of my favorite quotes from this book is this: "That was the other thing I realized quickly - working mothers loved nothing more than talking about being working mothers." I giggled out loud when I read that line - so true, online and in real life.
And of course, like noticing all the other Audi A3s once I got one myself, I see articles about "Having It All" everywhere. I love this opinion piece in the NYT by Erin Callan, a former Lehman Brothers CFO. And of course, I love it because it supports my point of view, which is that Work is Not Everything. It's so easy to get caught up in the race under the guise of having a great career, and ambition, etc. as we are all exhorted to do, but at some point, it becomes toxic if you let it take over your entire life.
I also read this great CNN piece where 10 women define "having it all". I love how varied the answers are. I love how Ana Navarro, a political strategist, thought it was a stupid question. There are a lot of great points, like how men weren't being raised for this change, and thus there are still guys out there who think being with their kids is "babysitting". Or how we never ask men how they manage to "have it all". Or what exactly "having it all" means.
I think these discussion are best when they involve real people, so with that, I'm going to navel gaze along with the best of them.
Prior to 2006, I had no hobbies outside of work. So I just worked more. And yes, I was rewarded. I hit my salary goal before I expected to. I got 2 promotions in 3 years. I also got fat (again), and wasn't really that *happy*. Then I found jewelry making, and finally had a passion outside of work. It was life changing to have something that occupied my mind that wasn't work, that got me out of bed in the morning eager to try new designs and make things with my hands instead of sitting in front of a computer screen. I finally had the elusive "balance". I finally was happy and able to recharge with breaks of something non-work-related.
I've written before about how I'd be happy to stay home with the girls, to teach them, do art projects, and live a less hectic life that didn't involve shlepping to and from daycare several times a week. To that end, I've been working part-time, 2 or 3 days a week since 2010.
We had been living an idyllic existence when TJ quit his job. Two parents at home most days. During my mat leave, we could easily divide and conquer and give everyone the attention they needed during the transition.
Sadly, all good things must come to an end. In our case, TJ got offered a dream job which didn't even require us to move. It was too good not to take it. So he started work 2 weeks ago, and boy do we miss him!
But there was the Looming Question. What happens when my maternity leave ends? We didn't have childcare lined up because that was going to be TJ's role until early next year. We weren't happy with the options available for a 5 month old baby, and T's awesome preschool is only half-day. (But did I mention awesome?!)
So it's my turn to step out of the standard corporate world for a while. I'm currently looking for 15 hours a week of remote work, and am considering contract and freelance opportunities as well. (So if you know anyone who needs a project manager...)
I'm also taking custom orders again in my Etsy shop and looking into Elance and TaskRabbit for work I can do outside the normal 9 to 5. I'm in the middle of reading Chris Guillebeau's The $100 Startup, and am intrigued by the possibility of starting something myself. I don't have an entrepreneurial personality but am figuring out how to develop some of those skills.
Yesterday T and I did some "Mama School" - we worked on some "number work" and did some cutting practice with scissors. I spent an inordinate amount of time getting the Baby Who Will Not Nap to go to sleep. The three of us went to the mall for an errand and to lunch, a lesson for me in wrangling two tired kids. So I'm definitely learning new skills!
I'm both nervous and excited about this new life. For me "having it all" means that as a family, we have the flexibility to adjust our working lives as needed to manage our responsibilities at home. My version of "it all" includes a partner who sees all "jobs" in this house as equal - whether that be working for pay or just the sheer glory of changing diapers, making dinner and pulling weeds. That, and being grateful that we *can* choose this lifestyle, as long as one of us has consistent income (and health insurance!). It's definitely a team effort here.
What about you? What does "having it all" look like to you?