Yes. Just not all at the same time.
We women take on the world and then some. There are high expectations on us. We are “required” to be great partners for our spouses, sexy and ready at a moment’s notice, great housekeepers, delicious chefs, social coordinators, awesome mothers to our children, and caretakers for our own mothers later in life. Oh, and to be cheerful and hard working in business on top of it all…. and successful, and to look good doing all the above… and … and … and… Whew! A LOT of expectations. No wonder there is so much stress and anxiety among us women.
I am here to “tell you”, that I have had my share of both, however I am still here trying to do it all, only now I have more years of experience, and so I know that all I can do is the best that I can do. There are so many factors out of our control. We just persevere to be grateful and appreciate to recognize those moments of joy along the way.
Let us take a step back in time, before the birth of my son 18 years ago, and my now 20-year marriage…. I enjoyed my independency, truly loved my job which took me all over the country every week and provided the frequent flyer miles for those first-class upgrades around the globe. It was a great season of life. I am very grateful for those decades.
At some point though, it became a bit old, always catching a plane somewhere, my social life was on the road, and I had to have pet care for my dog… Jake, the one who was with me since college. How was I ever going to be a mom when I couldn’t even take care of my dog because I was always gone?
See, that’s what we do, that’s where it starts, we begin to implement those expectations on ourselves and we begin to feel we are not adequate because we aren’t doing it all.
When my son was born, I was determined to be a great mother while maintaining my high level of work ethic and business credo. Or so I thought. I tried, but somehow that guilt of leaving him took away from the joy of my job.
At some point as he was growing up, I had to let the business side of me take a back seat. I did still work, but it looked different than what I thought was the glamorous corporate life. I created my own thing so that I could be there for the important events surrounding my son’s life. I became an entrepreneurial…. which in itself is not an easy task. I gave up the title prestige, my frequent flyer miles, and the money. (Money only means freedom to me, freedom to pay bills, order a nice glass of wine, take a trip, beauty maintenance, and give to others in need.)
Without the secure paycheck, I felt that a part of my freedom was lost. However, a different kind of freedom came into my life. The freedom to work at home in my bathrobe till the afternoon, and oh my gosh take a shower before I had to pick up my son. The freedom to connect with other women and do a load of laundry at any time of the day.
When my son turned 10, my mother had breast cancer. That was the start of another journey, which to this day, 9 years later has almost settled in. I gave up another part of my life for her, to help her live and to look after her needs. I officially became a member of the “sandwich” generation. We find ourselves taking care of everyone other than ourselves.
Now, here is the blessing, I have lived many lives. A national corporate manager, an entrepreneurial, a wife, a mother, and a caregiver. Did I do it all at the same time? Not exactly.
Well now, I have lived a half a century …. OMG!!! Sounds so old? My son is graduating high school. My mother is in a life care facility, no pain and well taken care of. My husband has his gig. So, I decided to explore starting a company or …did I want to go back to what I enjoyed before in the corporate world?
You have heard about A and B testing? Well, I figured I might as well do both at the same time. I never did that before. So, I took a corporate gig 75 miles away from my home. I found great people that rented me a room. I work 50-hour weeks starting with on Monday 7:30 am meetings… who does that?
(My rule book – no Monday morning meetings in my company, a Tuesday is better and definitely not before 10:00 a.m.- see I am learning from the A-B testing…. Corporate life is not what is used to be.)
I work in the evenings, and on the weekends to create my passion. I figured I would take a portion of my paychecks and fund my start up. It has not been easy. My family has really supported my efforts. I never thought that at 50 something (birthday coming up in March!) I would be doing so much.
Maybe it is because I only have 50 years left and there is still so much, I want to do. O.K. back to the original question, can a woman do it all? From my experience, I say yes, just not all at the same time.
There are seasons of life. Something must give. We just must choose what it is we give up and what we keep during a particular season of life. There are tradeoffs for sure. I will share my tips which concur with so many incredible powerful and talented women before my time;
- Keep the faith
- Make time to for yourself
- Make time for your family and friends
- Be open to new things and ways of doing it
- Take risks without going too crazy!
- Love what you do (work) and if you sell something, love what you sell, believe in it
- When you make mistakes, and Lord knows I have made plenty, don’t give up, learn from it and grow. Move on.
- Don’t let other people get you down or discourage you, keep good people around for support
- Don’t try to do it all, it’s o.k. to ask for help or if possible, to delegate
- Don’t be afraid of technology and the way the world is changing, you can still make a difference
- Be kind to yourself and others
- It’s o.k. not to be perfect
There you have it. I sincerely hope this blog post offers a bit of wisdom, humor and understanding.