Everything is moving in the right direction.
I am making my way up the corporate ladder: Senior Account Executive in the IT world, with 2 sales assistants supporting me.
And to round out the last year of the decade, I find out I am pregnant!
Before my girls were born, I had my maternity leave all planned. I pictured myself taking off 3 months for mat leave, and would be ready to return to work. In Canada at the time of my first pregnancy, I had accrued 6 months paid leave, and by the time my second was born, I was entitled to 12 months.
The plan was to bond with my baby, and a few months later I would be back in my corporate IT role. My baby would be in great hands with my mom, or a well investigated daycare.
You need to understand, that I have a plan for everything, and I follow through on these plans. It seems I may be a bit of a control freak that way, but I always have a plan.
That being said, having kids really and truthfully throws a wrench in even the best laid out plans. Even mine…
I not only used up my entire mat leave, but I also decided to step down from my full time corporate career and take on some contract work in order to be with my babies. For me, it was the best decision ever.
Fast forward to 2013:
My girls were growing up: 13 and 11, and were quickly becoming independent little women.
I was ready to go back full time. Luckily I had kept in touch with many from the IT world, and secured an amazing job. The new role included travel. This was something that neither, my girls nor I, had experienced before. Adding to that, the fact that I was now working outside of the home. It was a big change and one that we would have to work on together.
These changes in my life, brought on a new feeling: working mommy guilt.
Guilt; this coming from the mom that expected to go back to work after 3 months. I still remember as if it was yesterday, holding my oldest in my arms seconds after she was born, that bond was so strong, and I was hooked!
In that moment, I knew, my career needed to take a back seat…like the last seat in a stadium that seats 150,000 people, way, way back, the seat that can barely see the field.
The new “back to work fulltime me”, is now missing out on school plays, not being there to make something for the bake sale, in a hotel in a different time zone when they are sick at home, it all weighs heavily on me.
At the same time, being in the midst of preparing a presentation, working on an RFP, immersed in my career, and guiltily really enjoying it.
As a parent we always feel that we are falling short in some form or another. Can’t we do better? Are we giving everything we can to our children? Are we bringing them up with the right values, are we setting a good example for them?
I have a great network of friends in the same situation as me, and I am constantly asking them how they deal with this. Some answer that they have not figured it out yet, others tell me that they don’t let that bother them. They know they are building a better life for their kids than what they had growing up, and are setting an example for them.
But still, when do we find that balance? Can we find that balance?
After more than 3 years in this role, I am looking at new opportunities within my company. More responsibilities and more travel. Completely out of my comfort zone. It is something I never knew I wanted, but now that it is a possibility, I am going for it with everything I have!
But once again: working mommy guilt.
Last week my oldest went to visit her College academic counselor, without me. My youngest hurt her knee and walked into a chalkboard (don’t ask!).
My girls see how hard I work; and they see how much I love what I do. They call some of the changes part of my mid-life crisis. Who knows, perhaps they are onto something.
Is there a point in our life where we figure it all out? But then again, what fun would that be?
Keeping it all together is a struggle, but we make it work in our own weird way. The guilt is there, but somehow we are raising amazing kids.
So, here I am putting myself out there for a role I never pictured myself doing, but so cannot wait to start. The unknown has always been one of my fears, but, here I go.
My girls are healthy, teenaged, cackling little bundles of crazy. And when I get back from travelling there is nothing I love more than to have them ramble on about what I have missed, or barely look up from their phones to acknowledge that I am home.
Is there a balance? Not sure, but what I do know: is that I wouldn’t change anything at this point.
My girls, my career, my life: I make it work, and it makes me…well me.
Originally published at medium.com