|Baby Julia, feeding my niece|
At 43, I made a life-altering discovery.
Chasing "success" was destroying my harmony.
As an educated woman with a pretty solid track record of success in marketing, I have been searching for that next gig that will last until retirement. I wanted a job I could rise up through and hold onto and make my mark and a bundle of dough over the next 20 years.
Except, I really didn't.
And that's probably the biggest piece of this post.
Like all other couples, we talked about parenting goals before we got pregnant. We agreed that, although we were both working in the professional world, when the time came to have a baby, parenting would be one parents' main gig. As progressive folks, we were open to it being either parent, depending on who was in the most promising career trajectory. The other parent would work around the needs of the children (we, ultimately, only ever had one). Work would be secondary because nether of us wanted our kid(s) to be "raised by the nanny". Not that there's anything wrong with that. I know a LOT of great kids whose primary day-to-day parenting was handled by loving, caring hired help. It just wasn't for us.
|My family in 2018 in front of the Tower of London|
Until I had a meltdown. Although we had her in a great morning daycare on a horse farm in the woods of New Hampshire and although I worked afternoons at home, writing web copy from my papasan chair in her nursery, I couldn't handle being away from my family. I'm sure, looking back that I was super post pardum, but hindsight doesn't account for much.
|The handsome fella looking very corporate|
And then I wanted to go back to my "career". I'm pretty sure that's when my priorities went to shit.
I've been chasing my own tail, some fake idea of success and a bunch of bullshit markers of wealth that have only served to make me unhappy.
And I haven't been willing to give up the nurturing mother piece. I won't abandon the homemade lunch piece. I can't reject the helping with homework piece. I hold tight to the beds made every morning and dinner at the table every night piece. I won't "hand it over to the nanny".
And this has been the struggle all along. I wanted the power job because I was convinced I was far too educated NOT to climb. I wanted the big dough job and responsibilities because I KNOW I can do it well. I thought that being the head of a department and taking home all of the BULLSHIT stress proved that I was SOMEBODY. And, hell, if I could keep up the perfect mom and wife stuff, then I was SUPERSOMEBODY.
|Scratch fallafel I now have time to make well|
Don't get me wrong. I've had a lot of fun in many ways (running marketing in restaurants and event venues is the bomb.com) but the never-ending work week, the late nights, the all-weekend emails, the middle-of-dinner texts, the lack of boundaries are not a healthy experience for anyone, and definitely were not an exercise in work-life balance for our brood.
|Unconventional assortment of ingredients|
And I was MISERABLE.
So I am done. I left my last contract gig and am settling into this new me who is taking back the time I've lost. This month, we are having the first floor redone. I just made new curtains for the kitchen. I can't wait to get to the living room pillows. I cancelled WW and the gym and have spent every morning in the woods with the dogs. I polished my own nails and toes while helping my daughter with an English essay. I had lunch with my mom. I ironed Ryan's work stuff. We eat nightly dinner, crammed into the kitchen because the dining room isn't quite done but we didn't answer texts or emails. Ryan's company doesn't expect him to have work email on his phone. They are Fortune 100. They obviously know a thing or two about success. And he's been there a long, long time. So they obviously know a thing or two about retention. When he's home, he is off duty. And now, so am I.
And, I am on to new endeavors. I am shifting gears to do something that I love that won't eat my life. I am going back to working my life AROUND our daughter, just like we agreed to in the past. I am learning a new skill set that plays to my strengths and my primary role as a parent. I am soaking in every free minute with my teenager who will, before long, be off to college. I am planning dinner parties with my husband and our favorite couples in our beautiful new dining room. I am reupholstering the dining chairs where our guests will sit. We are binge watching shows on Mondays and Tuesdays without picking up the phone every time it beeps. I am going to those fun local events that were the very reason we moved back here. I am hanging out with my people. I'm posting on my blog.
I am remembering that healthy people work to live, and not the other way around.
I did the math. The economy of balance is a beautiful thing. Worth it.