I'm the woman who thought work was tantamount, equally important to raising my children. I wanted it all. In the 1980's, I was told I could have it all, and I was more than willing to give everything I had to pulling it off. I was ready, eager, and confident.
Of my friends my age (50), I was in the minority of the women I knew working full time (plus) all the way through my child-rearing years. My sons are turning 22 and 18. The Shriver Report of 2009 says women like me are becoming more prevalent. I feel a responsibility to speak up and show what that looks like... because, having lived it, I don't believe it's the best way.
I'm a woman who loves work. But raising my sons well has always been my priority. The two sides of my life have created the fullness and satisfaction for me. I am grateful to have been able to do both. However, in my new book, Mothers Fulfilled, I offer the two things I would do differently to women coming up behind me and trying to do what I have done for the last 22 years.
I offer advice, trinkets of inspiration, and ideas that seemed to work well for us which I've only been able to see now, from this vantage point, as I look back. All of these things will help new mothers in making their own decisions and charting their own courses in a way that fulfills not just their families, but also themselves.
Excerpt from Mothers Fulfilled (self-help)
If anyone could be successful at being a dedicated, deeply-immersed mom while simultaneously working full-time (and then some) at a hard-driving career, naively, I thought it was me. In my twenties, I believed I had the drive, ambition, commitment, and energy to pull it off.
Work is a significant part of my life, not something I would give up easily. I went into college expecting to work my entire life and give back something meaningful to society. At that time, I never considered part-time work, having a "job" instead of a career, working just for money, or being a stay-at-home mom. I thought I had so much to offer the world...and then, I had my first son.
Initially, I absorbed all that came with motherhood and integrated the demands into my busy days. Both my husband and I ran hard to keep up with our work lives while managing our home life. My weeks were full and physically daunting, but my love and devotion to my son took over all aspects of my thinking and way of being. He came first and mattered more to me than I mattered to myself.
This full life became challenging, but for so many years, I just kept going. I had a second son. Parenting two sons while working full-time required even more of me, and yet I gave up nothing. Some years in, I began to have doubts and concerns, but still I kept on that path.
Of the women I know in my age group, I am one of the few who has worked full-time all the way through her child-rearing years. When I began my parenting journey, I was in the minority of the women I knew. The Shriver Report, a study by Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress, published in October 2009, says in its preface, "We are in the midst of a fundamental transformation of the way America works and lives." It prompted Maria Shriver to conceive the phrase "a woman's nation." It compelled me to write this book.
I married in 1986 at the age of 24 to a man I began dating at 13. We are still married after 26 years. We had our first child in 1991 and a second, four years later. My sons are now 21 and 17. If The Shriver Report is accurate, women trying to do what I have done for the last 21 years may now become more prevalent and could soon be the norm in America. The report says we've hit this "major tipping point in our nation's social and economic history: the emergence of working women as primary breadwinners for millions of families at the same time that their presence on America's payrolls grew to comprise fully half the nation's workforce."
I was compelled to write this book because, with 20/20 hindsight at the age of 50 and knowing what I know now, I would have made a couple of different choices. If parenting while working full-time as I have done is becoming the norm for women and their families, I feel a responsibility to speak up and show what that looks like, because I don't believe it's the best way. What I would change is not major and is very do-able; small changes can have a huge impact.