It's the age-old question. Can you have a great career AND a quality family life? My answer - yes, you can have it all...but not necessarily at the same time.
If you're a corporate high-flyer, chances are you're spending long hours at work...inevitably, that means less time with the kids and your partner. Conversely, heavy responsibilities at home tend to mean you can take on less at work.
I went back to my job as a Communications Director part-time when Olivia was nine months' old. At the time it felt right...I was itching to use my brain again and had really struggled with the loss of identity that comes with the move from "career woman" to "mum". And, in a way, I felt like being able to do both made me a better mother...I was getting intellectual stimulation at work, had some freedom (to do important things like shoe shopping without dealing with a baby) and appreciated my time with Olivia so much more.
I love my work. I get addicted to the adrenalin of tight deadlines and working fast. The thing I found the hardest was coming to terms with the fact that I just couldn't work how I used to. I couldn't do 12 hour days and interstate trips if I wanted to be there for my daughter. When I found myself slavishly answering emails and fielding client calls on my blackberry during Mothers' Group I knew something had to give.
But it wasn't until I came to work at 8am one morning to find my boss's four-year-old son in her office, eating a breakfast of Pepsi Max and potato crisps, that I realised that wasn't what I wanted for myself. I made the conscious decision that day to give as much as I could to work in the hours I was there...but, outside of that, my family got 100% of me.
When I was unexpectedly admitted to hospital for bed rest at 25 weeks pregnant with Sophia I had to give up work cold turkey...and that was tough. But I soon had more than enough to occupy my mind. Nothing like nearly losing your premature baby to put things in perspective.
These days I'm far more content to be "just a mum". Sophia's dodgy lungs mean I won't be going back to work any time soon - child care is just not an option for her until she's a bit bigger and stronger. But, you know, that's ok. I figure I'll still get to where I want to be by the time I'm 40 and then I still have another 20 years in the workforce. My babies will only be babies for a short time.
That doesn't mean that the little devil of ambition doesn't occasionally come and tap me on the shoulder - it's just that I'm now better at ignoring him.
What do you think? Can we have it all?
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