Can We Really Have It All?

These last few months I have spent a lot of time thinking about my life.  My life as a mother.  My life as a wife.  My life as a career woman. Juggling all three of these can be exhausting.  Wonderful but exhausting. The past 18 months have been the most wonderful and also the most difficult of my life.

Millie has been lucky to have personal care and attention from so many loving caregivers. While I continued to work for KUER I knew that although she wasn't with me, she was in the hands of many great women.  My mom, my sister and Kristin (Millie calls her Kin).

Millie's schedule the last 18 months has been hectic.  And she has completely rolled with it and thrived. She is so smart, so funny and so happy.  I'm so proud of her.  However, with Kristin's school schedule and my desire to have a bit more consistency for Millie, we have decided to have her start a daycare program in a few weeks.

I'm terrified.  I'm terrified for many reasons.  How will she handle being in a new place with strangers? how will she handle taking one nap?  Will she even take a nap without being rocked?  Will the teachers know what "gimmie" or "ba-ba" means?  Will she be hysterical when I leave?  Will she pick up all sorts of bad behaviors? I know she'll be sick all the time now... the list goes on and on.  

In my mind I know that she is going to do really well.  She is incredibly social and funny.  She is always waving and saying "hallo" to people at the grocery store, library, zoo, etc. She is excited to be around other kids and truthfully I think the social interaction is going to be amazing.  I know she'll do well.  I do. 

And yet, I still feel extremely guilty.  Will that guilt ever go away? I feel guilt each day when I leave for work.  Why isn't being a stay-at-home mom enough for me? Millie is the most wonderful thing in my life and I am absolutely crazy about her. However the days I am home all day I feel a sense of restlessness, depression and boredom creeping in.  I know that going to work is the best for me.  And I have to believe that because of that it's also the best for Millie.  I believe I am a better mother because I have my life and my career outside of the home.  I think that generally I have come to terms with this.  I love what I do. I'm lucky that I am in a career field that is fulfilling and challenging.  Not many people are lucky enough to say that they are passionate about their work.  I am. I love working. Whether it's helping raise money to grant wishes, to help abused and neglected children, to advance medical research for MS or to bringing the best news/information to Utah - I love what I do.  I am fulfilled by what I do.  It's exhausting and hard and the pay has never been great.  But I do it.  

I also love my time with Millie. I love full days with her. Full days that usually include long walks, playing outside, trips to the library, LOTS of book reading, lots of loves and rocking, lots of songs and dancing.  I love her so much.

Can I really have both?  Can women really have both?  I'm convinced we can't.  And that makes me very sad.  I can't do it all. I can't be a successful nonprofit fundraiser and feel like I am doing enough as a mom.  Can I?  I see women that do it (and hopefully they will comment on this post!) Maybe my guilt level is a bit higher than most.  I don't know. Right now it just feels impossible to have it all.

Seth and I talk about this a lot.  He feels guilty that he isn't home more.  His job is incredibly demanding and he usually only sees Millie for about an hour a day. However, as gender roles have been ingrained in us, he feels that it is still his main responsibility to provide for the family.  Going to work is what he is supposed to do - or at least that is what society tells us.  I know things are changing and truthfully Seth would make a wonderful stay-at-home dad.  It just doesn't make sense to eliminate the salary that is 2x's my salary.  Gender roles make me feel like I should be home.  It's my role to be a wife, mother, chef, maid and caretaker. 

As we begin to discuss the timing of baby #2 I realize that working after may not be an option.  It was hard enough balancing work with one kid.  How would I possibly do it with two? I am not willing to put an infant into daycare and I'm not sure my family would be willing to help in the way they have helped with Millie.  I'm stumped and I'm scared.

So perhaps with the next kid I quit?  I quit working and stay home.  Everyone always says "it's just a few years.  You can make that sacrifice."  For the most part I agree.  It is just a few years.  Hopefully I will be a happy and engaged mom during those year. I think that I should be able to join the workforce again once Millie starts Kindergarten.  But what happens when she starts dance classes, or sports or music lessons?  How will I get her there?  What do I do?  Society in general just doesn't allow that much flexibility.  Being married to a PA doesn't help either.  Seth's schedule is grueling and I don't see him being able to help much in this regard. How do families do it?

I am terrified to take myself out of the workforce, even if it is just for a few years. I know how it is.  I know how it is to be hiring and seeing women that are very qualified for the position, but they haven't worked for 5-7 years. I hate to say it but I have found myself passing over those applicants. I've seen women struggling to get back into any sort of position after being a stay-at-home mom.  I feel like I have FINALLY put myself in a position that has potential to grow.  I hate to give up the place I have worked so hard and so many years to put myself in. I just wish that I could do both.  But logistically and emotionally I am not sure I can do it. 

There are so many things that scare me about baby number two but this - this feeling that I will have to take my leave - scares me the most. If I am lucky I will still be able to find a balance.  That balance will likely be more heavily focused on mom and much less focused on work. The scales will be tilted.

I hope to find a way to keep my foot in the door of my career.  I hope to find a way to feel fulfilled and less guilty. Who knows! I may be a total kick-ass stay-at-home mom. I may wonder why I ever thought going to work was a good idea.  The only way to find out is ...

One thing I do know is that I love being a mom. I love my family and the life we live. It's not remotely glamorous but it's wonderful. I'm so lucky.