I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wonder what the heck I had done when I first went back to work at the beginning of October.
After waking each day at 5:15 am and running out the door at 7:15 am, following a whirlwind of prepping breakfasts, lunches and dinners, I started to lose patience. Then, after spending my days in meetings, only to rush home to a tired, grumpy little girl, I started to feel- well- disappointed.
“Is this what life’s going to be like? Did I choose my career over my family?” I would ask myself when Ramona, my daughter, would cry through supper, overtired.
In my disappointment, I started to lament my old life in Edmonton. My familiar co-workers, commute, projects and manageable one-child family were no more. This was my new life. And I wasn’t too sure how to feel about it.
So, in the midst of my immense I-am-a-horrible-mother guilt, I went to the library and got out the audiobook of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead for my commute to work.
This book was exactly what I needed.
There are so many things to love about this book but what resonated with me was the discussion about how women often take themselves out of the game before they put themselves in it. That we doubt our ability to combine work and family and assume that we will not find balance, so we don’t even try. Sandberg refers to women who stop reaching for opportunities in the years leading up to having children, believing more opportunities will mean less room for children. “Don’t leave before you leave”, Sandberg says. This is so true. I can’t tell you how many times friends and I have spoken about wishing we had chosen our career paths more carefully, ones that would have offered vastly different growth opportunities but more flexibility with part-time or modified work options.
And I realized I was leaving before I left.
Sandberg’s plea to women to “lean in” to their careers is inspiring and got me through my initial weeks back to work. I’m happy to report the family is all adjusting well now. We can make it through dinner without tears. I’m lucky I have a spouse who takes on 50% of the family responsibilities- maybe more. Maybe I can’t “have it all”. Maybe balance will always be elusive. But I know for myself, and for my family, I have to always try.
Have you read Lean In? What did you think? I really loved this book and would highly recommend it.
Header image source