It was my choice to go back to work six weeks after having my second child and I won't lie, this week was tough. It has been a challenge to remain focused with such little sleep and I am haunted by an endless fear of being crushed by the hundreds of balls I have thrown in the air. All of that being said, I awoke each morning delighted to start the day, hit the ground running and engage in my life's work. I figure if nothing else, being excited to head to work is an important metric in my quest to design a tailored life.
My choices around career and childcare are not necessarily the norm, but they work well for my kids, my family and me. Being self-employed I don't have a significant income while I am home on my short maternity leave. I don't begrudge this detail but it means that it is not possible for me to stay home for a year with my baby. My self-employment does however afford me the logistical flexibility to bring a nanny with me to work so that I can continue to feed my daughter in-between clients. I am fortunate in that this is not an option available to many working moms.
When Ann-Marie Slaughter declared last year in the Atlantic that women still can't have it all, I read her article with great interest. Despite equal capability in the workforce, women have a different role to play within a family. Slaughter's article reminded me to set my expectations and design my own career with a cautious anticipation of the logistical, physical and emotional demands that would be placed upon me as a mother. In her book Lean In, (which I am reading in the middle of the night, on my phone, while trying to stay awake to breast feed my baby); Sheryl Sandberg describes the need for a renewed consciousness as it pertains to supporting women in leadership roles. Part of this movement requires a facilitation and support for women as they design their own iteration of what it means to balance family and career without fear of societal judgment or castigation.
When adequately supported and sufficiently clear on their personal and professional priorities, each of these women reminded me of our capacity to change the world. Even those of us sneaking off to pump in a bathroom stall between meetings or appointments.
Joseph Campbell declared that we should give up the life we are living for the one that is waiting for us. In January I did just that. I sold my clinic to my business partner, freed up my time and acknowledged to the universe that I was looking for something new. I got clear on the type of work that I wanted to do with my most precious of commodities: time. I stopped watching TV, finishing books that weren't worth my time and became focused about what I wanted to be doing with my life. My family remained my first priority, my private practice became a significant source of my attention and I actively acknowledged that I was looking for an entrepreneurial challenge beyond my current clinical scope. In short, I began to invest in those things that were absolute priorities and stopped investing in commitments incongruent with where I wanted to go. In areas where I volunteered but was not fulfilled, I found people to replace me. When opportunities came my way, I forced myself to question whether or not they contributed towards my larger vision for who I wanted to be as a mother, wife, clinician and entrepreneur.
So while I have headed back to work this week, I have done so with clarity and deliberate consciousness. Leaving the world healthier than I found it is the mission under which I labour. It is my hope, that my girls will find their own mission and the permission to pursue it on their own terms and by their own design.