It’s been one year since my last day at work. And if I’m honest, I’ve thought about returning or, in some way, what I’ve been missing, every day since. No exaggeration. Every. Single. Day. I’ve asked myself questions like “What am I doing with my life?” or “Am I really making that big of an impact by staying home with my son?”. I’ve wondered if I’m missing out on something more (Read about my regrets here). It’s funny. Moms often find themselves feeling guilty if they do work, or if they don’t. I suppose we can’t win. Or can we?
Recently, while making dinner, I found myself reflecting on all these things and had the following epiphany: For moms, future moms, and mama hopefuls, maybe true work-life satisfaction is found in changing expectations. Now, there are some moms who work full-time, and they are fulfilled in doing so. There are some moms who stay-at-home, and don’t question their decision. There are also some moms, who, in order to make ends meet, have to work out of necessity. I fully recognize that there are many different moms on both sides of the coin; but I’m speaking specifically to the moms who are on the fence–the moms who have realized they want more time with their families, but are worried about what they will face if they take steps to do so. To those mamas, I suggest a change of expectations.
As women, our biology dictates that our lives operate in seasons. We’ve known this since we were little girls. First, there’s the season of puberty. Then we cycle monthly through seasons of fertility and menstruation. Next, there’s the season of pregnancy and nonpregnancy during childbearing years. And then, of course, there’s the season of menopause. Now, if our biology operates this way, why shouldn’t we in our day-to-day lives? Who says we have to do it all at the same time?
For some, life may bring about a season of education, followed by career building, career growth, and then a time for investment in child-rearing and household efficiency. For others, that season of childbirth and child-rearing may come before education and career, while for others it may be sandwiched somewhere in-between. For me, that season came during career building and development, right after education, and there’s only One who knows what the next season will hold.
Either way, I think a re-framing of our “having it all” definition is desperately needed. You absolutely can have it all, but likely not at the same time. Once we finally come to a place where we truly understand this, I suspect there’ll be a lot less mom guilt lying around (or maybe we’ll just find something else to feel guilty about).
The perfect time to plant all depends on the right season.