For the past 20+ years, I’ve had a successful business in women’s health psychology. Two years before that, I became a mom and had no idea what it would be like to combine work and motherhood. The maid part has always suffered, although I was the main “cook” in my home especially when my daughters were young. From my journey as a mogul, mom and maid, here’s what I’ve learned:
1. You can’t “have it all” at once. At different times in my life, one of these roles has required more of my time and attention. My 25 year-old still reminds me how I missed her first “double-digit” birthday to attend a professional workshop out-of-town. Similarly, I turned down opportunities to promote my professional life because I wanted time with my children and family. As my children reached their tweens, I made certain to be home after school the days I wasn’t in my office to stay connected with them. Now, I have two twenty-something daughters who are caring, successful young women who are making their own mark on the world.
2. You can “have it all” sequentially. Since my children are almost launched, I have more time to devote to my business and service activities. Even with older children, I’ve learned that parenting never ends, but the concentrated time you spend and the energy it takes eases some. I still make certain to make time to talk when they call or be available when they need me, but I have more time for close friends, personal interests and my marriage. My “maid” part is happily de-cluttering our home because as I get older, I discover less need for stuff and more for simplicity.
3. Being “successful” is in the eye of the beholder. Earlier in my life as a mom and mogul, I wanted success to be all about me and how well I was doing at seamlessly combining motherhood and business woman. Of course, I wasn’t (no one can) but that was my goal. I also wanted more of everything, money-power-status-stuff. Everywhere it seemed, I saw other women scaling career heights never before imagined and they had children and families too. Then I realized that their families and personal lives were suffering (back to lesson #1-You can’t have it all), and instead of reaching for the stars, re-evaluated my definition of success.
4. Success changes at each life stage. While as a younger woman, I defined success primarily by what I’d achieved in my career and professional life, my feeling successful has much more to do with my role as a mom and person. Nothing is more important to me than raising my children to be caring, responsible, honest human beings who act with integrity and compassion. Likewise, it’s continuing to ask myself what I can do today to make the world a better and more loving place to live in. These are my current measures of success.
What are yours?