Article by Wendy McCance
I was at the bookstore recently and per usual, a book caught my attention. I don’t know how this happens, but whenever I am in a huge debate with myself about my choices, something will jump out (usually in book form) to help me on my path towards an answer. The book that I bought, and am still reading is, How She Really Does It by Wendy Sachs. The front of the book states that this book is about the Secrets of Stay-At-Work Moms.
I have joint custody with my ex-husband and see my children exactly half of each week. I remember going through the pain of realizing that I would not be able to be with my kids full-time anymore. My attorney tried to convince me that eventually I would be thrilled with this new lifestyle because I would be able to have some carved out free time. What the schedule did do for me was give me the rare opportunity to offer the kids a fresh mom who was overjoyed to see her kids and more than ready to immerse myself in every aspect of their life each time I saw them. What it didn’t do was make me happy to have time without them. I can get through a few hours the first day they go back to their dad’s home where I relax and enjoy some quiet time. After a few hours though, the sadness returns and I miss my children terribly. After years of being divorced and having had time to adjust to this schedule, the pain of being without the kids has never gone away. I’ve never been excited to see them leave. I hate this way of mothering.
I would say it’s because of my schedule with my children that I have always put them first. Work, family, friends and any other obligations or time for socializing takes a backseat to time with my kids. This choice of priority (the only choice I could possibly make for my emotional well-being) has made other areas of my life challenging.
I want to work. I love feeling productive and challenged. If I could find a job that works around the kids schedule, I would have found my dream job. My biggest issue is that when I have to work instead of be with the kids, I become so unhappy. I don’t want to compromise my already paltry schedule with the kids.
This brings me to the concept of choice. Do your choices directly reflect your priorities in life? I have realized that no matter what you might think, you can’t have it all. I know this is a strong statement and will get much debate going, but think about it for a minute. If I choose to be successful, I put in a ton of hours working on my career. My husband, children, friends etc… take a backseat. Sure I can juggle everything, but the majority of my attention would go to my career.
Back to this book I’m reading. The books concept is all about highly successful working woman who have families. Sure they show examples of juggling everything and although they have little time for sleep, are wearing themselves down physically and have unlimited income to spend on a support system of nannies, personal assistants and so forth, they are not really living. These people exist like they are in a lifelong marathon of sprinting with no finish line in site.
If your choice is to be highly successful, good for you, but what good is having a family if the majority of your children’s time is spent with a nanny? What good is this level of success when you have to continue to push yourself to the limit in an effort to pay that nanny to watch the kids? Is this really success? Are these people really happy? What about the person who has found a more reasonable schedule and a little less money but gets more time with their kids? Or what about the person who works like crazy to have the ultrarich lifestyle but is so busy working that they can’t afford to enjoy their wealth? Except for some designer clothes or a beautiful house that is barely lived in, they can never enjoy their wealth because they are always at work to keep up this lifestyle. Is this living? Is this happiness? I am curious as to the feeling of happiness and fulfillment that these people have. How do these choices translate? These aren’t choices I have made, but I would love to follow along through the day in the life of someone who’s choices are vastly different from my own to see what it feels like and how my life might have played out if I made different choices.
I am just using the concept of the book as an example. There are so many variations on choices made in life that effect other decision. Trust me I’m not here to knock anyones way of living their life or to pass any sort of judgement. I’m just searching for answers and looking for the ways in which people feel their happiest and most content.
To contact Wendy McCance about a writing assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: [email protected]
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