Monday, May 19, 2008

It's a Juggle....

This weekend, I read a quote that I can't get out of my mind. Sara Moss, executive vice president, general counsel and secretary of the Estée Lauder Companies Inc. and mother of four, said "It's a juggle, not a balance."

Truer words will never be spoken.

Before I had kids, I was very career driven. So career driven that I thought that nothing would ever come between me and my goals. Not even a kid. Especially not a kid.

Then I had my son. This beautiful, amazing little boy who I helped to create. Who I carried around in my belly for 8 months. Who made me vomit every single day in various places including (but not limited to) on the Long Island Railroad, in Penn Station and sometimes on the site of the street during my long commute into NYC. Who made me, on a daily basis, feel sicker than I had ever felt in my life. Who surprised us all by arriving almost one month early. Who was born so early that he shared a birthday with his grandma, a grandma that he would never meet. Who, when I held him for the very first time, made me realize that my life would never again be about only me. Who I loved more than anything from the moment I saw him.

When I went to college, my plan was to study psychology. Halfway through my sophomore year, I realized that when I graduated, I wanted two things - to work and to make money. So one night, doing some homework, I realized, "I'm good at math, I'll major in accounting." And that was it, I became an accounting major. I was admitted to the business school at my university and spent the next two years struggling through two years of hard classes, got a job out of college that sent me traveling all over the country auditing newspapers and sat for the CPA exam more times than I care to remember. When I passed the exam (and got engaged all in the same week), I opted out of the travel and was hired for a more corporate job, which I liked. My career path was changing, I wasn't going to be a partner in a big accounting firm, as I had once imagined. But my goals were constant - I still longed to be a high level executive, making decisions and carrying companies from bad times into better times than they ever imagined. I never thought I would ever want to stay home, I never thought I wouldn't want what I had always imagined I would have.

January 2003, enter this little boy into my life. I wanted to be with him all of the time, raise him to know right from wrong, teach him everything I could possibly pass on to him. But he did need to eat. And have clothes. And in order for him to have these basic necessities, I had to work. And someone else had to care for him. At this point, I came to a major realization. I could either accept the fact that I needed go to work every day in order for my child to have all of the things I wanted him to have. Or, I could allow this job to make me miserable and by extension, make my family miserable. The second choice didn't work for me and I dealt with the fact that I worked. And worked 10 - 12 hours per day, running 3 US offices for an advertising agency in downtown NYC. My son understood my working most of the time, but there were days when he cried. As he got older, there were days when he asked me to stay home with him. And there were days when he asked why his grandma takes him to school when everyone else's mommy takes them to school. And my heart broke. But I told him, "I have to work so we can buy you toys and lollipops." That seemed to make things okay for this little boy.

When I couldn't take the commute for one more second, I took a similar job closer to home. That ended in disaster, but that's a story for another day. And then I was pregnant with another baby, who I prayed and hoped would be as amazing as her brother. And she is, in so many ways, and in so many different ways.

After baby 2, I kept working. But my views and thoughts on working changed. Drastically. I'm not saying that once I had kids, I had no more goals. I still had goals, maybe even loftier than before. But these goals were different. They were no longer only my goals, they were our goals. As a family. A family with the most amazing children parents could ever ask for. My goals were for them to be happy. For them to be successful. For them to be the best people they possibly can. And for them to excel and reach their goals. My goals were now a means to get them there, without losing myself in the process. To keep the balls that I was juggling in the air.

There is always so much talk addressing how do you balance, Sara Moss's thought resonated with me. "It's a juggle, not a balance." There are often so many balls in the air, how could it ever be a balance? The idea is not to drop any of the balls, but if they do drop occasionally, it doesn't mean that I failed to reach what I set out to achieve. It means I have to practice a little bit more.

1 comment:

  1. Why didn't I think of that quote? That is *so* true. No wonder I always feel like I'm slipping and sliding on balls I've dropped. I don't know if I'll ever have enough practice!


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