Untapped Talent

On a recent trip to Prescott, AZ for Ryan’s annual ride of the Whiskey, (check out my previous post) my friend Tara and I were discussing my plans to go to school and her current job as a reading specialist at her children’s school. Tara was explaining that she has it really good with her position because it allows her to still be a mom and enjoy fulfillment professionally. And then she said something that gave me one of those Oprah “Aha!” Moments: “There is immense untapped talent in SAHM’s who could work 9-3.”

With that sentence I realized that in our society’s archaic notion of an all or nothing work/parenting balance there are many parents, myself included who struggle with the professional desire to work and the emotional and logistical desire to be a present parent. I don’t NEED to work, but I desperately want to. I went to college for crying out loud! I had a career for 10 years! I don’t want to just look at that time of my life as “in the past” or “another time”. I enjoyed what those experiences gave me and did for me as a person.  Those experiences have made me the mom I am.

I am infinitely thankful that I did not have to go back to work when Chase and subsequently Andrew were 10 weeks old. I know that would have crushed me emotionally. I am glad that when I’ve had to pick them up in the middle of the day, the only inconvenience it causes is not being able to Barre 3.  I cannot replace the time I get with them when I pick them up from school and take them to one of the many, many sports they are trying out right now.

There is a pervading argument that states that we women can have it all, just not all at once.  I agree to a point.  I agree with that when I think about it within the confines of the all or nothing work formula that we modern women are forced to see our careers.  However, I vehemently disagree with that notion because of the fact that someone else is determining the parameters in which a woman can have it all. If we truly value what caregivers do for our families, we wouldn’t be so rigid about balancing our duties as parents.  Our work culture needs to respect the desire of mothers and fathers to have a more balanced existence.

As I embark on a new experience and a second chapter in my career, I intend to make my own way by filling in the 9-3 gap. I do not expect full-time benefits if I’m not working full time. I don’t expect to get paid full-time if I don’t work full-time. I know that this mindset will prevent me from moving up the professional ladder quickly but if Millenials have taught us anything it is that priorities can be different. Quality of life is my number one goal. In fact, I want to change the rules and encourage other parents to demand a true work/parenting/life balance. I want not only other SAHMs to pursue professional fulfillment and work fulfillment but fathers too. Once I start working, I hope Ryan can step back from full time employment to not only enjoy his own personal endeavors but also take part in more parental responsibilities. (Note: Ryan has never lacked in parental participation).

I cannot accept the notion that our years should be filled with non-stop work and crushing fatigue due to trying to balance working and parenting. The success I see for myself will be a equilibrium of parenting and professional work. I’m sure there are those of you who may think that it is naive of me to think that way, but I am not going to fold just because someone tells me no, once or twice.

We need to be in control of the narrative, now. I think People of my generation can start to make the decisions without someone patting me on the head and saying: “Your time will come.”  With all of the definitions of “success” out there, why can’t we add one more? How about this for an option: The present parent who is able to drop the kids at school at 8:30 am go work and then be there to pick them up at 3:00 pm for afternoon activities, homework and dinner prep?

What are your work/parenting/life balancing questions? Have you had experience in making this formula work? Comment below.

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