They pop up on my Amazon recommends, and I tend to get drawn in as they tease out another woman’s perspective on trying to navigate the often complicated juggle of work and home.
Maybe I’m looking for tips or guidance, or perhaps I’m seeking common ground with other women in the trenches, but generally I discover no one has figured out this delicate dance of career and parenthood. Each woman’s circumstances are different, and we’re all just trying to discover what works for us and our respective families.
Last week, I started plowing through Liz O’Donnell’s Mogul, Mom & Maid: The Balancing Act of the Modern Woman and I was again reminded there are so many journeys we each take.
As I’ve documented in this blog, I’ve never off-ramped from my own career. We’ve needed my income, and if I’m completely honest with myself, I’d be afraid to give up my career entirely. Relying on one income to accomplish the goals we have – for the kids, college, retirement and beyond – just isn’t reasonable. Still, I often daydream about working for myself, freelancing or working part-time.
Could we swing it? Perhaps. But, my risk-averse style has prevented me from taking the plunge. The benefits and stable income mean too much to my family at this stage of our lives.
O’Donnell captures stories from different women who have off-ramped altogether, and then can’t seem to find their way back to the working world. If they do manage to on-ramp, they often need to take big pay cuts and start from the bottom.
Other women chose to “decelerate,” meaning they stay in the work world, but take their feet off the accelerator. They may shy away from promotions, back off on travel, dial the ambitions down a bit. Let’s call this coasting.
And then some women keep plugging away. Maybe their spouse does more of the heavy-lifting at home, or they rely on childcare, or they carve out some sort of entrepreneurial opportunity and take matters into their own hands.
The more I read about others, the more I realize there is no secret solution, no foolproof way to navigate this full stage of life. Sure, I pick up little time-saving tips, but every family is different. Every woman is unique.
Off-ramp, decelerate, accelerate. You choose. Are there days you’ll second-guess your choice? Hell YES! You are human!
But I will say the other sentiment O’Donnell left me is that the ramp for our career is very long. I’m in my 30s, so I have many working years ahead.
- So what if I didn’t get that promotion this year? There is still time.
- So what if I feel like I’m coasting a bit? I’m glad I’m able to be more visible with my kids at home.
- And do I get frustrated I haven’t been able to make a bigger mark in the world? Sure!
I often feel so vanilla during this stage of my life. I’ve done respectable work in my career, but my ultra-competitive side wishes I was further ahead. And in the motherhood space, I sometimes feel like I’m just scraping by. I don’t want to fail my kids, but let’s face it, there are days I disappoint them.
My measure of success right now is if my kids are happy, healthy and growing into respectable, kind, little human beings. I’m also trying to make sure I keep the door open for career opportunities that will allow me to contribute my own personal gifts and light me up.
I just have to remind myself I have a great deal of living ahead. There is time. The ramp is long for career, but I only have a certain window of time with my kids. I just pray this dance I’m doing today is benefiting them – fingers crossed!