So, how did it go?
Well, I did it all:
- I worked my ass off. I was inventive and creative, my campaigns smashed company records and won awards.
- I got pregnant again, and had my second baby four months after the end of my contract.
- We saved money, threw fattened payments at our mortgage and bought a shiny, new, upgraded SUV to fit my burgeoning family.
- In addition to his own full time+ career, my husband pursued his Chartered Financial Analyst charter (notorious for leaving dizzy, bleary-eyed students lying in its wake), and passed the exam.
Sounds pretty perfect, doesn’t it?
There was the time my son was playing in our living room and I was trying my hand at homemade hummus.
Then my Blackberry buzzed.
It was the President of the company’s Executive Assistant letting me know that he was in a meeting and that I needed to call him to provide an update on the numbers from a campaign we just finished.
I looked at my son, then my blender full of half-blended chick peas and lemon juice, then back at my son.
…what fresh hell was this…?
So I did what any inventive parent would do. I said several four-letter words under my breath, turned the television onto Treehouse and headed to the bathroom, where I sat on the commode while briefing the President’s meeting on speaker phone about our final numbers.
Then, there was also the time when I was six weeks pregnant with my second baby, and I was racing around the house, trying to get my son and I out the door in time for an appointment.
I ran into the laundry room, taking a leap down the step, landed sideways on a shoe, and flipped onto my back, in a way that Wile E. Coyote might’ve. The pain was sharp and my response was loud enough that my son ran over to see what happened.
A hurried phone call to my sister, a drop off of my son at my mother’s house and a long-ass emergency room visit later, and I was looking rad with a sweet “walking boot” on my foot and crutches.
Now, instead of running to the bathroom every morning to puke, I had to hobble.
And finally… during that year, my father unexpectedly passed away. I couldn’t plan that one, or the emotional fall out from it.
So no, it wasn’t so perfect.
I think about it now, and I realize that I don’t remember much of my son’s second year of life. I spent the most time with him than anyone else, but I was rarely present. I was often desperately trying to do work on my laptop, or in a fog from a lack of sleep, or hurriedly trying to get him dressed to be babysat while I called into a meeting or went to one of my many ob-gyn appointments.
The good news there is simply that, while I missed much time with him, others gained it. My husband got to spend an extra day with him during the week when he otherwise would have been in the office. And my mom was my go-to babysitter for conference calls and tight deadlines. She happily spent tons of time with my son, which they both loved, and their close bond exists to this day (she’s snuggling him as I write this). Should you attempt anything like My Year of Having It All (TM), one of these insta-baby sitters is vital.
And I won’t even begin to tell you how little sleep I got. All you have to consider is that I worked regularly until 1 and 2 a.m. and during my pregnancy, I was (as any other pregnant woman often is) extremely exhausted.
And, by the way, if you think you can plan what a pregnancy will do to you… you can’t. My second pregnancy made me far more nauseous than the first. I couldn’t eat, and I spent much time hunched over the toilet, much to my toddler’s curiosity and bemusement. You can hope all you want for an easy pregnancy, but the Pregnancy Gods don’t give a fuck.
What’s the verdict? Was it worth it? Would I ever do it again?
Not. A. Chance.
Because during that year, I missed quite a few things. They are difficult to explain and they don’t look as good on paper as the accomplishments above, but I’ll try.
- …moments. Laughing, relaxing, playing. I missed lazy Sunday mornings and evenings sleepily cuddling on the couch. I missed simply having time.
- …people. I missed my husband, for one, whose arrival at the end of his work day signalled the beginning of mine. And by handing our baby to him as he walked in the door and heading directly to our home office, I missed a lot of times together with him and my son as a family.
- …good times. Whenever there was a family gathering for a birthday, a holiday, a celebration of any sort, I had to stay at home and work. It was some of the only “free” time I could scrounge together, and with my son happily engaged with his aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents, I could get a much-needed block of work hours. I missed my family and friends so much that year.
Maybe we can have it all. But we need to really examine:
- WHAT “it all” really means. There’s a lot of focus on “having”, but do we even know what the it is that we want? “It all” is different for me today than it was when I was 18, when it probably included a mansion and being the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
- WHEN we want it. It depends on what “it all” is, but there’s a chance that we may not be able to have it all at the same time. To use an old cliche, there simply are not enough hours in the day.
Not enough to have ALL of these things while also having meaningful moments and relationships.
I’ve realized that having it all must include the little moments in between the meticulously planned events, meetings and classes. Those “little moments”, like the glue that keeps our scheduled lives together, are what create a life worth living. For me, if I have the career, the house, husband, car and children, but none of those “little moments”, I don’t really have “it all”.
Those “little moments” are what separate us from being programmed robots, moving unthinkingly and unemotionally, from task to task.
I thought I was in charge of myself enough to live like a robot for a year and power through. But I wasn’t. I realized my limits and admitted that I am, indeed, human.
We are meant to be social (I certainly am). We are meant to be with people we love, to bask in the outdoors, to sometimes move slowly.
I’m glad I did it. I am beyond grateful that I had the opportunity. But I’ll never do it again.
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