I am sneaking in 15 minutes of quiet between the time my husband comes home sick from work and the time I dropped off my son at preschool. Then I will head out into the world to run some errands.
There was a lot I let go while I worked- Career first, of course. My Mother would watch Vince if he was sick, unless it was a serious fever and then I would leave work (I will admit, not willingly, there was so much to do!). Housework was done on a emergency only basis- there were conference calls to run.
Even dating my husband was done in the spaces between store visits, market meetings, endless emails and phone calls. I remember several lunches cut short due to some emergency call from a store, or an email I just had to respond to. I often wonder how he tolerated me, my schedule, and how rude I must have seemed during all of this.
In my mind, I had to hustle. I had a lot of pride in my job title, and the amount of work I could accomplish. Looking back of course, it was all done at a great price to my health, sanity, and the lives of those around me- who with their help, enabled me to hold down my job so I could work till 2 am on reports I don’t even remember now.
That is the trouble with what I was doing. There are careers that are meaningful, and add value to lives; and that require enormous amounts of time and energy to be done well. However, I felt detached to the success that I had with my career- People would kill for my job, and there were days (more often than not) I wanted to just walk away from all of it.
I just found myself asking often, is this worth it? Is the paycheck worth it to miss my son all the time? Was the money worth the time I missed while my Grandmother was still alive? Fear of Missing Out. And I did, on so many things I cannot get back. It’s a guilt that I have yet to unravel. I am angry with myself that I couldn’t do it all, and have that Work Life Balance that is supposed to bring you Joy. I felt like a failure on so many levels because I could not figure out how to do it all, and I feel like so many other women around me can (or at least that’s what the media says you can do).
Now I pace myself- I still want the pride of accomplishing ‘work’ and achieving “goals”- but they are not sales targets any longer; I love a few quiet minutes folding clothes. I cry when I get to see my son playing with his friends at school. I enjoy that cup of coffee while working on a painting more than any corporate dinner or award I ever had at work.
And when the time comes for me to step back into a career, whenever that will be, I hope I remember what is important this time- and don’t get caught up in the whirlwind like I did before.