Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Balancing Act

Problems arise in that one has to find a balance between what people need from you and what you need for yourself.
~ Jessye Norman

As a mother, I have always felt pulled and tugged at by the myth of what our lives should be, what my own life should be, and what exists in reality. I was a professional before I became a mother, and I decided early-on that I would not try to balance the life of a working professional woman and the responsibilities of motherhood.

I have never believed a woman could truly "have it all".

I believe that life is all about compromise and negotiation. I believed and still believe that having one foot in the professional world and one foot in the home would make me only half as good at either.

So, I made the choice to stay home.

But something in me is changing, waking up perhaps. Maybe it's because my youngest will be going to school soon. Maybe the act of writing our experience daily, weekly, monthly for the last ten months is the reason. Who knows? But I'm starting to think about old dreams long pushed to the back of the bottom drawer of my consciousness.

I'm starting to reconsider law school. I'm starting to re-hash my PhD research. My quieter moments are filling themselves up with a tiny voice calling to me.

Be more.

It's time to be more.

If I'm honest with myself in those moments of wondering, I will come to the same conclusion I always have -- law school is too expensive. My PhD required for me to live and work in Russia, where I wasn't at all happy. I was surrounded by women who had made the conscious choice to let strangers raise their children so that they could pursue their professional dreams.

And yet, if I'm so busy being honest, I have to admit that I miss those dreams. I wonder what would have happened if I had fulfilled them.

There is a part of me (would I admit this to my children?) that still puts the words "just a" in front of the word Mom.

It's hard to admit, but there it is.

Even though I believe that my children are a gift and no other person in the world could do what I am doing to raise them, my mind aches for more challenging work and my spirit aches for acknowledgment.

But I don't like to wallow, and introspection only gets a person so far. Action requires risk, but if I don't take a chance now, I'll never know what the future may hold for me.

I feel like I'm at the jumping-off place and I need to re-start the portion of my life that was unquestioningly put on hold. I'm just not sure how to start.

But I do need to start.

- Midwest Mom


  1. The toughest thing after deciding to stay home is deciding what to do next. I'm kind of in that spot myself right now.

  2. Thanks, Melissa.

    It helps to know I'm not the only one still working it out. Your support means a lot.

    - Julia

  3. First - a hug for you! Bless you, kiddo. Staying home with kids vs. a career is a tough choice. It is so natural that you are in the antsy mode and as your kids become more independent this antsy feeling will grow. Don't panic!

    I did the home bit with my kids and let my dreams simmer on a back burner. I had many moments of regret, castigating myself - I was on both sides of the issue. What is interesting in this journey of life is that dreams evolve as they sit on that back burner. They take on new shapes, new flavors, new texture. When you DO have time, you may find yourself doing something very different. And you will love it!

    Whatever your future brings you, you won't be the same person you were before kids and years at home. Just like the clothes never fit quite the same, so to our "plans". Its ok. It's all just ok, not to worry. Another hug.

  4. I feel as though I could have written this post last year at this time when I went back to work. Except I would have choosen a quote from Oh The Places You Go. I must say that Jessye Norman was a better choice.

    I was a stay at home mother for one year and a working mother for just about a year. I love my job so the transition was easy for me however I am friends with people who quit their professions to stay home and love it just as much.

    My advice is this:

    No one has it all. I don't think having a job changes the type of mother you are. It just comes natural to some people and others have to work at it a lot harder.

  5. I know exactly how you feel. I set aside all my future dreams (which also included law school by the way) in order to get married and raise a family. Even though it is hard I know that I made the right choice.

  6. Ask yourself, "What happens once they're grown?" If you are out of the workforce that long, it lowers your chances of getting a good job. You'll start at the bottom and work your way up, at what age? Your work experience and training will not exist because they will only look at your absense.
    I was a single parent and did not have the luxury of staying home, but I made the most of my time with my son! I knew, though, that, if we were going to make it, it was all up to me. I sacrificed a lot to provide him a good life.
    You know, if they are in school, you can work around their hours, whether you're going to school or working a job. It can be done with minimal time away. If it's school, it may take longer, but at least you'll be working towards what you want.

  7. My best wishes to you, and good luck. I know your answers will come!

  8. I love this post. It is fantastic.

    Although I'm not yet having to face this question, I still find myself asking it often. I'm ashamed to admit but I do often add "just a" to my current title. I think it has to do with having been driven to accomplish and succeed all my life and my current position really doesn't offer checkpoints or marked achievements unless you count having unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher as a goal.

    That is not to say I don't think what I'm doing lacks value or necessity but sometimes I desire more. Of course, even if I returned to my career before L is in school, I would be shelling out most of my salary to daycare and that just doesn't make sense... so here I am.

    I hope you figure out what it is you want to do and that your family will be ready to support you no matter what it is.


  9. I feel you. I am considering the opposite, moving out of the mean career world into the home, it is hard. Part of me wishes there could be two of me: one at home not missing anything and the other being the working gal with no worries!

  10. Thank you all for sharing your perspectives. It means so much to me that your responses have been thoughtful and reflective of your experience as mothers.

    When I started Midwest Moms, this was the kind of exchange I envisioned -- caring people sharing their unique points of view about this thing called Motherhood.

    Since I'm the one on the receiving end of such wonderful advice and support this time, I just wanted to be sure to say thanks.

    You guys are the best.
    - Julia


Talk to me.