Years ago, if you would have asked me about my ideal version of parenthood, I would have answered, “working part-time or staying home”. As much as I admire working parents, especially moms, I could not envision pulling off working full-time and raising kids. Of course life rarely works out as planned and I’m a full-time working mom. My husband has a very flexible schedule and we have help from family.
While on a day-to-day basis, my life can be quite exhausting, I have to admit that staying in the work force probably makes me happier. This is not an easy thing for me to admit either!
This recent epiphany is why I am intrigued by a recent report stating that full-time working moms enjoy better health both mentally and physically than stay-at-home moms. As with any research report, you have to be careful about the details and conclusions drawn. However, I am beginning to realize that this report rings true for me, especially when I focus on the long-term benefits. I draw mental strength from retaining my independence and contributing financially to my household. This strength and independence is something I’m very proud of and hope my kids will appreciate someday.
I also have a strong feeling that I would have a very difficult time getting back into the work force. Yes, many women change careers or dive back in and excel. However, many women I know are very lost after their hiatus from paid work. Truth be told, knowing my personality and priorities, it would not take me long to lose my network, lose touch with my skills and be out-of-date in my field.
This is not to say that I love office politics or always enjoy my work. This past weekend, my youngest kept climbing up on me just to lay his head on my chest; he was so content to just be with me and I love these little moments. Contrast that with my current mindset at work — sort of uninspired and deflated. I spent weeks polishing up a report and developing a business strategy for future projects that will hopefully counter this blah feeling. That has kept me engaged and reminded me I have so much more to learn!
I think the big lesson is:Sometimes what you think makes you happy isn’t what really makes you happy. This can apply to many areas in life, not just work/life/parenthood. Maybe not getting into your first-choice college turned out to be the best for you. Maybe not achieving your dreams of stardom led you to a more fulfilling career path. Have you experienced happiness in spite of your plans?