Monday, September 01, 2014

changing gears

This past week, on one of the days that I was remarkably not traveling and in the office, my co-worker dropped in to say hello. As he stood in my doorway, talking to me about the happenings in his life, he mentioned that earlier in the month, he had moved his middle child (and only son) off to college.


Although this is his second child to leave the nest, and he still has an eighth grader at home, he said that this child leaving home has really hit him hard.  It especially hit him when he was cutting the lawn over the weekend because it dawned on him that this was the first time in at least seven years that he, himself, had cut the grass because that had been a chore for his son.  His voice cracked and abruptly trailed off as he said, "I can't believe he's already gone... where does the time go?"


Tonight is the eve of my nine-year-old triplets beginning fourth grade and my seven-year-old beginning first grade.  Whomever said the days are long but the years are short, was right on the money.  As I sat down last night, filling out the stacks of paperwork for the new school year ... the forms were so familiar, it felt like I had just done this exercise ... what, a month or 12 ago?

As I was tucking the kids in tonight, it struck me that in another nine short years, our oldest children, God willing, will be healthy and strong freshman enrolled for their first semester of college. When you factor Henry in to the equation, the empty nest that we will experience over the next 12 years is absolutely mind-numbing.

Stay in the moment, Jen.

Stay in the moment!


Although people have long told me that kids grow up so fast, sometimes I forget how fast that happens until I slow down and take an inventory of where we are on this path. That's when the wet towels that were left on the bathroom floor - and the apple cores that were discarded in the cup holders of the van - aren't the end of the world.


As parents, we really don't have our children for very long at home, and each day that I do have with them, is becoming more and more precious to me.

The dichotomy with me ~ and several of my working mother friends ~ is that at this juncture in life, we can see and sense the incredible growth potential in our careers. But if we continue to pursue the current career track, we will inevitably miss so much of our children growing up.   I've been to training seminars and have read books galore about how women can achieve the optimum work-life balance. But as I've put those tricks and tips in to practice, I find that they don't work very well for someone like me: Someone who, despite the training and coaching, is simply unable to shut one thing off to focus on another. Someone who cannot change their "altitude" from work to life, and life to work, very seamlessly.  There's a lot of turbulence.


As I was pondering all of this recently, I had an epiphany that as a working mother, I can have it all.  Maybe I just can't have it all at the same time.  


In life, you have to be willing to shift your priorities from time to time.


It's been a long process and all consuming decision, but I'm preparing to shift. And fervently hope that when I do, my transmission doesn't fall out on the roadway of life.