Work Smarter//

The Joys of Finding My Balance

The tug of love.

Family photo provided by the author, Jennie Souiade; Photographed by Katie Donnelly, 2016

A Tug of Love

I love being with my family and cuddling their soft little squishiness (my kids’ squishiness, my husband is actually pretty chiseled). It is my joy of joys. (And when they both nap at the same time, it is a different kind of joy).

When I graduated portfolio school, launching into an exciting career in advertising, I declared with confidence that I’d be a creative director and balked at the idea of being a stay-at-home-mom.

I feel compelled to be a dynamic part of the external world in a big way. I have to, I must. Yet, the notion of raising my girls full time like my own magnificent mother did pulls at me now in a way I never thought it would (or did and perhaps resisted).

My future self guides me on my way — she’s the wise, whole version of myself I aspire to be and sometimes call on for advice. I also asked my mom, how she made the decision to quit a career she’d worked so hard to achieve.

Her response was conflicted — she genuinely loved spending all of her time with us but felt she’d missed out on her greater social purpose. She’d gotten two degrees in environmental architecture and she really rocked it! If she could go back and do it again, she said, she’d be more serious about going back to work once we were in school, but it’s not obvious and not easy.

Choosing where to spend our energy and make our impact is a constant internal struggle, and one that affects not just ourselves as mothers but our husbands and kids and the world around us.

I am here on a mission, to guide people to live integrated lives, transforming themselves into their ideal selves — eventually transforming our world into the ideal place to live. But that includes living a life we love, with our families, friends and ourselves.

I experiment with balancing my priorities on my own terms. Alternative realities exist, and I am consciously checking myself to make sure I’m on the path I want to be on right now and trusting that it will create the best whole life path. With all transparency, it’s both thrilling and threatening.

My daughters are my gurus. Our first grounds me firmly in the Earth to remember my strength. Our second floats me up to remember my light. My husband helps me navigate.

In my last two positions, I requested Fridays for my family.

And they accepted! Sure, I’ll still go in every now and then when there’s an all-hands meeting, but it is the sweetest luxury. The idea came to me from working in Paris. Many of the parents took 80% pay to work four days a week — and they were the people who seemed about 20% happier. I thought it was pretty genius.

Now, in New York where ambition seems to be synonymous with competition and not for the greater good, it was pretty audacious for me to ask and even more profound that I still got the job. It may have even helped me get the job! (And in turn, my baby actually helped recruit a few new hires too, haha — but, of course!) I am so, so so grateful that I get to spend special time with my kids while I continue to blossom as myself.

I cherish being able to personally nurture their growth as their mother — to know their sounds, teach them how to use a crayon, calm them for a nap. I get to make them laugh. We get to play.

I get to draw with puffy paint again — my 13-year old self just rolled her eyes, but my 8-year old self gave me a high-five.

I cherish being able to socially nurture my career as a director — to influence brands and company culture, learn new tools, prepare myself for more. I get to make an impact doing the work that I love. And I get paid.

Contributing to the family income is important to me — it’s a measurable value that is assigned to the work that I bring to the world. Parents miss out on this assigned value. A parent’s nurturing love is worth an intrinsic, immeasurable amount — even more so for those who take it on full-time. I think the ambiguous or unprovable value is what is scary or most frustrating — maybe what my mom still searches for, for herself — to be able to say, I’ve earned this. This is valuable by this amount. I can buy a house with this. Haha.

As an aside, my husband and I were at a hotel sales pitch when the salesman asked us what we had to show for our vacations — clearly wanting us to say ‘nothing’ (as opposed to buying into a time-share sort of deal) but my husband and I just looked at each other and laughed. The experience of life is what we have to live for — it’s being present, not a piece of paper!

I thank myself every week for being assertive enough to ask for the time, grateful to receive, and thrilled to spread the grace of an enlightened culture in the work environment. I’ve never had to apologize for my kids, and I consciously make sure that I don’t. Fridays are a weekly reminder of good company culture, good will, and a changing world. It is also a reminder for me to be present in every moment, to use every ounce of it productively — I won’t waste a minute.


Thank you, I hope you enjoyed my story. Please share the love and recommend.

Originally published at medium.com

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