Like most moms, dads and caregivers, I accomplish a lot more before 9 a.m. than most CEOs. We are the CEOs of our companies, aka families. Before 9 a.m. I’ve nursed one child, changed three diapers, put one on the potty twice, prepared and fed breakfast for two children, unloaded and re-loaded the dishwasher, put one down for a nap, and watched at least two Madonna videos (yes, the PG ones) with my toddler who for some reason has recently become obsessed with the Material Girl. Thankfully my business partner, aka my husband, is an all-hands-on-deck kind of guy and we do a third of the above together before he leaves for work.
In the midst of one of these busy mornings, I had a mini meltdown. I realized that it was exactly four months to the day until I celebrate my 40th birthday. I literally let out a gasp as I looked at the date on my planner. My husband laughed and said, “four more months until you officially become my old lady.” Funny man. The down side of marrying a younger man is that he often likes to make jokes at my expense; fate has sided with me, however, and crowned him with many more grey hairs than I.
What brought about the mini meltdown? I believe it was a clear and honest realization of where I’m at right now in my life. I came to motherhood a little later than expected having my girls at 38 and 39. Before babies I was a high school English teacher and aspiring writer. We had a bumpy road to parenthood; I suffered countless miscarriages before being diagnosed with a rare blood disorder. Once treated, I was again pregnant but this time made it through the first trimester safe zone – a first for me. Needless to say, once Cali and Elle became a part of our family, I was more than happy to hang up my teaching hat and put the writing on hold.
Having two babies under the age of two is both tiring and thrilling. I’m in constant awe of their development. The bond already forming between my two young daughters is amazing to watch. Cali and Elle are now what inspire me to model what living life to the fullest really means. With that same mindset, however, I am reminded of all the things I’ve put on hold to care for my children. There are no more marathon writing sessions – it’s type when I can, usually after bedtime; our frequent flier points are gathering dust; there are no more online courses to further my education – any down time I have is devoted either to a yoga DVD, a date night with my husband or a long overdue catch up on Skype with my best friend.
While mid whine about not having a life, I fell silent and realized that the writing could still happen, albeit at a slower, less ambitious pace. The places we want to travel to will still be there as will the courses I want to take. My priorities have shifted since having children, and I’m grateful that I had a mini meltdown because it gave me a much-needed pause to see all that is so incredibly good in my life, right now. Yes, I’m beyond exhausted, and there are days when all I want to do is curl up in my bed with a stack of magazines and close the door. But then I think about those three heartbreaking years when we were trying to start our family, and how incredibly lonely and sad I felt, especially the weeks following a miscarriage. That stack of magazines was a form of escape then too, but of a different sort. I’m not saying we have to suffer to appreciate what we have; I’m not sure if my experience made me a stronger person, but it definitely gave me the gift of learning to live in the moment – be it through sadness, anger, happiness, or relief.
Oftentimes, people who have not yet had kids will ask if I miss working or when do I plan to return to work. My response remains the same, “the kids are my career.” This does not mean forever; it means at this moment they are the two little people who need me most, and I them. It may not appear to be a reciprocal relationship, but it is. What I’ve come to realize and most of all appreciate, are the moments in which they give me something in return (for all the sleepless nights, toddler tantrums etc.) When Cali wants to sing her ABC’s with me in the bathtub or Elle pulls herself up to standing with that mischievous grin and then looks to me for approval, I admit, my heart melts. And there it is – my career – for now.
What have you put on hold while raising kids?
Photo courtesy of MyMommyStyle.com.