This post is part of Women’s Money Week 2014.
Can women have it all -- a professional identity, a successful marriage, and a close involvement in their kids' lives?
I don't know.
I know for me, right now, that's not possible. And I'm glad that my partner is on the same page and happy to take a hit in our joint income in order for us to focus on getting our daughter healthy. My attention is nearly fully taken up with her, and there's nothing left over to give to a job. Not to mention that it takes all my time to make our lives a little smoother - childcare, medical stuff, laundry, meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking, keeping the house clean. It seems like I work all day doing this stuff, so I don't know where I would fit an eight hour workday. Staying home is the only way for me to achieve any kind of balance right now, for me personally and for my family as a whole.
If things were a little more normal for us, could I have it all?
I don't know.
I have a friend who has a healthy kid and works full time. She is able to throw money at most of their problems (takeout instead of cooking, hiring a housecleaner, sending laundry out), but money can't buy you time with your spouse, your kid, or yourself. I don't look at her life with envy. I don't think she looks at my life with envy. I have another friend who has a medically complex kid, and she and her husband both work full time out of necessity. The stress is evident, and I don't know how they balance it all. I definitely don't envy their situation. I just don't know how working moms do it, and frankly I am not sorry to miss that memo.
Maybe women can have it all, just not at the same time. I had ten years' worth of an awesome career, and that was cool. I enjoyed my work as much as I enjoyed the money. I forged an independent life for myself before I got married and had a kid. And now I get to stay home and help someone discover the world, and I get to indulge the nurturing side of myself by taking care of my family. That's cool, too. Someday I won't be needed at home as much, and I will go back to work. These are seasons of my life, and that's what balance looks like to me - focusing on one aspect of my life at a time.