I’ve really been struggling lately with mixed messages. Everywhere I turn, I’m bombarded with messages along the lines of “Today is the only today you’ll ever get–make it count,” and “This is your journey, live your best life.” It’s on everyone’s Instagram, the cover of my journal, and all the workout shirts I just bought at Old Navy (which, for the record, I’m rocking underneath blazers and not wearing to work out. But that’s a different blog entry…)
At the same time, I am seeing a lot of information about putting my children first, not being able to get these days back, missing it when it’s gone, and putting my dreams and goals on hold to maximize every moment of their precious childhoods. Interestingly, no one prints these ideas on tank tops or notebooks or mugs in the One Spot at Target. No, these messages come to me in the most guilt-producing ways: an article in the magazine at the pediatrician’s office, my judge-y frenemy’s post on Facebook, or conversation at work about what we did over the weekend.
I love having a career. I love my work, and I have ambitions of moving to the top of the company. At times I work a lot of hours, and I might miss an event at my daughter’s school, or not be home in time to tuck my son in. I’m doing this for a lot of reasons, and I rarely wonder if I’m making the right choices. It’s important to me to build something bigger for my family. I also want to show my children what hard work looks like so that they know that when you want something, you have to work for it. After all, this is the only life I get–I want to make the most of it! And finally, I think it builds resilience in my children and fosters independence to have to do some things without their mom.
I refuse to believe that it’s selfish to want the most for myself. It’s not that my children aren’t the most important people in the world to me. Rather, it’s because they are that I’m making these choices.
If I put my goals and dreams on hold to spend an entire weekend at a 7-year-old’s soccer tournament, what does that teach my children? That everything I’ve ever worked for and wanted for myself is not as important as watching them wander around the field for two straight days? Candidly, their athletic ability is best described as mediocre to below-average–I would certainly make a different choice for a game of some importance. Regardless, my work necessitates some weekend hours, and I see nothing wrong with continuing to build my business while my children live their average, normal, fabulous 7-year-old lives. I think it’s healthy for them to see me as a person with a role beyond just being their mom.
I guess for me it’s about ranking priorities. I make sure I’m present for the big events that matter, and I make sure my children know that not every event in their lives is “big.” I hate that quote I always see about being present for the big things in a child’s life, because, to them, it’s all big things. That’s not fair to parents: we’re allowed to have big things in our lives, too. I think it’s dangerous for a child to be the most important person in a family and to grow up with that mentality. I don’t believe that approach builds empathy in our children, and more and more, empathy is what this world needs.
So, I’m making the most of every day and doing my best to make the most of it in every way–as an entrepreneur, as a mom, and as a woman who knows it’s okay to want more.