You are probably young and not even thinking about having children anytime soon.
Right now is all about you.
I may have even scared you away from reading because I mentioned the word “children” in the first sentence of this article. But I want you to think about it for just a moment.
Do you plan on having children someday?
It may feel ridiculous to think about that yet but every decision that you make now about your future is going to impact the kind of mother you will become later.
What kind of partner you choose.
What kind of career you chase.
What kind of degree you get and how much debt you gain.
I am going to tell you a secret, something I learned along the journey that nobody wants to admit: being a working mom sucks and also being a stay at home mom is extremely challenging. I’ve done them both and am telling you from experience.
There is going to come a time when you are going to be lifted and shifted into one of these categories as a parent and they are constantly at war with each other. People think that women who work are neglecting their children and that women who raise children don’t do any work.
The pressure to be everything to everyone will soon take over from there.
Things are going to happen that you aren’t going to plan for and can’t possibly even imagine. This could be anything from a recession to layoffs, or even the opposite. You may get promoted so many times that you find yourself traveling the world for work and find complete joy in that.
Other things could include soccer games, summer camp, or your child could be a 1 in 4 statistic that has a developmental disability.
Regardless of which direction you go, these occasions will require your attendance and take precedence over a career. Think about that now.
I was one of those stereotypical, over-achiever type millennials who found themselves excruciatingly bored at work. I stayed too long at a company and felt trapped there once I got married and had kids. Even though I applied for promotions and even got some, I soon learned it was mostly lesser qualified men who actually got them. I felt a void that deepened after motherhood and I needed more than diapers, sales numbers, and spreadsheets. That was when I started teaching college on the side and while I turned a small profit doing it, the fulfillment that it provided was the purpose. It gave me a challenge of maintaining a tight schedule and was somewhat thrilling to be multi-tasking like a 365-day Christmas elf.
But I had it all under control.
This eventually pissed off my employer because employees who can balance it all — maintaining a top-performer status, motherhood, and juggling 3 jobs is intimidating to many…especially when you work for people who couldn’t make it past their second semester of community college. I’m getting off my soapbox in a moment because don’t worry — I completely and utterly failed and it is that failure that taught me the most valuable lesson.
When the juggling stopped and everything fell to the ground, that was when I had a few months of doing nothing to realize just how addicted to being busy I had become. In fact, I was a product of addiction to being busy and I was raising my daughter to be busy too and at only four years old, she was stressed out because of my life choices.
Why should any child have to spend nine to ten hours per day at daycare? Do you know how stressful it is for them to have to be on their best behavior all day? I had no idea and never even thought about it until recently. But this is something you should think about and know about before you do it should you decide it is the best choice for your family.
While my daughter has behavioral issues related to her autism that has taken her ability to attend daycare off the table, it is still not fair to expect her life to be as busy as mine. Or to expect that from any kid.
I tried having a nanny as well and aside from being unaffordable and expensive, it wasn’t the same as me being home. It wasn’t until I was home with her myself for a few months that the storm that used to be our life had calmed. She was happier, calmer, and I finally had time to enjoy the little things like making her lunch, putting her on the bus, and watching her perform puppet shows and play with dolls. These things may seem silly or ridiculous now, but I promise that they aren’t.
Don’t get me wrong because I am not saying don’t follow your dreams.
If you want to be a doctor more than anything and you know in advance that it will be difficult to balance your career and a family, be fully aware of that beforehand so you aren’t crushed when it happens. Once you have children, your career will come second. Not because you want it to or because you plan for it. It just does.
There will be times when you fail at work in order to succeed at home.
Nobody told me this.
Regardless of which career paths you choose, know this: we are all replaceable at work but not as mothers. Our time has no price tag.
Make sure the career path that you choose runs parallel to the kind of life you want to have with your future children and family. Think about the kind of mother you want to be and make sure those entities align with one another.
For me, working part-time is making me the kind of mother I want to be for right now. Getting fired taught me that. This failure was my gift of enlightenment.