Throughout my marriage I always worked. I didn’t brag about it, but I was either consulting, writing, helping other small businesses get started, managing my rental properties or teaching something.
It was a paradox, that by the time I had kids, and was killing it at work, after years of working my way to the top, I couldn’t work anymore. Because I worked for a small company, a technology start up, with under 50 people, I only had five weeks of maternity leave. Five weeks. My work was flexible only in the fact that you could set your own hours, and wear whatever you wanted, but you were required to be there most of the time. I left my five week old baby with my wonderful nanny Elizabeth Blackwell, I knew she was in good hands, but she was tiny and precious to me, and it tore my heart out to walk out the door every day. So, with this steep cliff, where work required all or nothing, I made the choice to put my family first.
This was not an easy decision, it felt like one day I was in the city eating lamb chops and drinking Veuve Clicquot with the PR girls, and the next I was in Vietnam, where the twenty or so members of the Lamorinda Play Group ran through my house as I made homemade play dough, from Martha Stewart magazine.
I was absolutely not cut out for the role of stay at home mom. The children had me wrapped around their tiny fingers, and I was a glutton for punishment in the volunteer department. I was room mom six times, coached four soccer teams, taught CCD, served hot lunch for eight years, was on the PTA board, the NCL board and did every possible auction money raising activity known to man. And I was a perfectionist. The house, the cars, the kids, the lawn all had to be perfect. Other friends, would yawn as their sinks filled up with dishes, and their children napped for five hours. Not at my house. There was very little sleeping at my house. The charming distractions didn’t like to sleep, and they were very mischievious dare devils, on top of that. I left Paris watching a cartoon one afternoon, and came back to find she had moved her sand box into the family room, minus the box. They loved to unmake the beds, or fill them with sand, get undressed after I dressed them, throw up to get their way, climb trees and scream for help, paint their hair purple and run through the house shaking their heads, and so on. My friends with boys felt sorry for me.
All of this made going back to work at Wells Fargo feel like a spa day. The problem was that when I got home at 7 oclock my little girls would ask, “when will your working be over?” and tear my heart out. I made the decision, to let go of the big jobs, that were personally and fianically rewarding, for those that allowed me to integrate my work with my family. I wrote my book Real Food (Amazon), did part time consulting work, and was able to be a ski instructor at Northstar Resort for three years. I helped other working moms who didn’t have the luxury of being close to home, but most importantly, I had the priviledge of being a day to day integral part of the lives of my own children, and their many friends.
When it is all said and done, and I pack up my beautiful daughter and drive her to college to begin her own life in September, I doubt I will wish I had spent more time at work.
Love and blessings to all.