When I had my daughters, I was self-employed. I had ample time to devote my full attention to my girls. Attending to them was innate – and very satisfying for all of us. What wasn’t great about my being self-employed, was having to travel and sometimes, internationally. I knew it was a gift to be paid so handsomely to see the world, but to be honest, I didn’t really like corporate public speaking. It was transient and while it was great that the “X-product/system 2.0” worked great, I sought more meaning for what I was pitching. I needed to get closer to helping humankind on a level that coincided with my core values.
Also, (and this is a biggie), I couldn’t get health insurance. NO ONE would cover me.
So, that’s how I decided to leave my corporate speaking behind, and shift the rewarding nonprofit volunteerism into a full time vocation. While it gave me the opportunity to receive health coverage, I had no idea how much I would fall in love with the work.
In the nonprofit sector, I found a return on investment I’d never known before.
It all sounds good, right?
Here’s the rub – I missed (still miss) my kids horribly. The inherent full time mom, doting on my babies, was in my rear view mirror and it still is more than a decade later. I have never fully been able to reconcile this balancing act within myself, because I believe the balance isn’t realistic, but rather sets an impossible to achieve goal.
No thanks, but sometimes, I feel like a mega flop mother.
I have missed choir concerts, school plays and volunteer opportunities for mothers who are more hands on than I am able to be. My inability to do these things hurts. Even more than feeling guilt, what I really feel is that it goes against my grain. My daughters need me more than they ever have before.
The pain of “missing” things and not being present enough for my daughters, ebbs and flows, but mostly flows.
I question so much, but don’t we all as parents?
Just recently, I realized that I wasn’t on top of some essential things that have to be done for me and my daughters. I’ve been so immersed in work; under great pressure, with stakes that feel very high.
And, as usual, (this is part of the ebb and flow part), I re-remembered that there are no higher stakes than being an advocate for myself, body mind and spirit. Then, it’s possible to be a very present mother to my tween and teen daughters. It takes SO MUCH practice, but I am fully committed to practice.
So, I have accepted an executive director position here in Chicago for a nonprofit organization I love for so many reasons. Still, I will continue to ebb and flow (through practice.) I will have to continuously push myself to be present with me, my own body and of course, my amazing daughters.
I don’t believe in work/life balance. I think it’s a bunch of hooey. I do believe in practicing breathing, mindfulness, self-care, and boundaries… accompanied with a constant goal to forgive. This is the best I can do.
I am most grateful to believe that my commitment to practice, combined with the willingness to forgive, has saved me as an individual, as a mother, as a colleague, and likely, will help me succeed in my next endeavor –
Which really, is nothing more than commitment to practice.