Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sacrificing the career or motherhood?

So a couple days ago, while Chuck was "out of town" I received at my ofice a beautiful flower arrangement from my beloved husband. (When I say "out of town" I mean that he was away on business to the extent that he stayed at a hotel away from home for several days and could barely contact or see us, but it turns out he was holed up in a hotel across the street from my office building). Now, we've been married for over 10 years, and while flowers ussed to be a common occurence in my life, they are not the norm anymore. I dont' blame it on loss of affection or anything as ridiculous as that, I simply blame theloss of fresh flowers on our busy schedules. Nonetheless, when flowers appear from out of nowhere and not attached to any significant event, a girl gets a little suspicious. Honestly, I think he really just plain loves me, but it makes me contemplate whether we've gotten ourselves overcommitted in life. I have to admit that I'm probably the overcommited one, and Chuck constantly encourages me to continue to participate in my community service and social activities.

And so I ponder today, Do you sacrifice time with your children (your most beloved treasure in the world) so that you can have a stellar career or do you sacrifice your career so you can be a stellar mother, or, in my case, do you settle for mediocrity in your career and as a mother?

It is difficult to choose how to balance work and home life. I choose to work full time (about 9:00 to 6:00 - not a lot of hours for an attorney), and see my children in the mornings and the evenings. I actually feel that they are better off getting an education from professionals rather than from me. Plus, they get to experience an environment with other kids where they have to share and they get to learn from children who are older. Secondly, I love that when I'm with them I get to do all the fun stuff (not always, but a lot of the time), so we get to spend Saturdays at the zoo and evenings at Central Market on the playground. Luke and Evie don't see me as their constant disciplinarian (although I feel like I am one) and I don't have to feel guilty about all the stuff that they aren't learning becuase I don't have a degree in early childhood development. If you've got it, I say go for it and stay at home with your children. After all, they will only be this age once and it is so very precious to mold a child and watch him or her grow. I truly wish I could be more a part of their lives, but I wonder whether that would be better for them than what they already have, which is two loving parents (luckier than some) and a great education. Seriously, Luke is four and knows his continents, and is already starting to write and read.

Plus, I wonder how much time I should spend out of the house in the evenings even if it is for a worthy charitable cause. In my last blog I gave you an example of a very busy week where I had an event every day of the week outside of business hours. It can get rather hectic. Chuck has times like that too where he has to go 48 hours without seeing the kids because I pick up and drop off and he is out of the house before they wake up and not home until after they are asleep. I'll admit that this is the extreme and most nights we spend together for at least an hour or two. Still, I would hate to have the realization when my kids are 16 and seeing a therapist that I should have spent more time with them.

But on the work side of things, a lawyer actually needs to be more committed than I am. I do my best to stay active so that I can overcome what I consider some of my weaknesses in the industry. I'll admit that I'm no Clarence Darrow, and this won't be a surprise to anyone at the firm. You can even look at more modern achievers like Hillary Clinton. If you go to her campaign site, which I imagine has been pulled by now, you will see that she breaks up her life into sections and one 20 year section is entitled "Advocate and Mother". If you read the section, however, there is very little to comment on about her as a Mother. Politically I can see that she wouldn't want to focus on PTA or other parent related activities, but would rather emphasize her professional experience. But still, doesn't it make you wonder how much time did she spend with Chelsea if she was a partner at a lawfirm and eventually first lady. So the question remains,
"Do you sacrifice time with your children (your most beloved treasure in the world) so that you can have a stellar career or do you sacrifice your career so you can be a stellar mother, or, in my case, do you settle for mediocrity in your career and as a mother?" If you have the answer let me know, because I'm still not sure.

6 comments:

lisawitt said...

That's a GREAT question! And I dont know if there is a right or wrong answer.I guess you do the best you can do and pray it all works out! ;-) But I think you and chuck are doing a great job...there is no doubt how loved your 3 kiddos are! :-)

Theresa said...

Thanks, Lisa. I think about this stuff a lot and pray about making the right decision. I'm pretty sure I am making the right decision about working, but I worry about whether I've taken on too much at work and in the community. Thanks for your encouraging words. I sure do love those kids!

lisawitt said...

Love the new blog background too! ;-)

I know, I pray about it too! But I do agree with one of the things you mentioned...would I BE a good SAHM? I think Zach is learning a lot more at daycare and interacting with others, etc than he would with just me! I do believe that if kids grow up knowing they are loved and seeing love expressed among their family, that counts for more than anything!

ginster said...

omg - i had no idea you had a blog and i love it! can i link it on mine? and honey, i ask myself that question every day and i haven't even gone back to work! back to work at my non-existent job. kisses!

Theresa said...

Gin,

Of course you can link my blog. It isn't nearly as exciting and entertaining as yours though, so I think most people would be disappointed. And as you can see, I fall off the wagon a lot with regard to actually posting things on the blog.

Roxanne said...

I love this blog, I think it is so good to openly talk about stuff like this. I tried to work, it just was not making me happy, my poor baby boy was always sick. I LOVED my job, and thankfully I am able to keep a small piece of it. I absolutely love being a SAHM, even though there was a time when I thought I would hate it. Now I am even questioning if I should even keep working part time from home. I am sure I will once I get Julia on longer naps, but I still struggle. I have been in both worlds, and I do miss my job sometimes, but not nearly as much as I missed Alex when I was not with him.