When I decided that having children was something that I wanted to do, I certainly didn’t plan on being a single mother. And I definitely didn’t plan on having a disabled child.
Likewise, when I decided that I wanted to have a career as a Certified Public Accountant (“CPA”) opposed to being a stay home mother, I didn’t have the life experience to really understand what was involved in that choice. I had no idea the level of stress raising a disabled child would add to the already stressful world of public accounting.
Now, one benefit of public accounting is that there is some flexibility. A CPA’s job is for the most part driven by deadlines. These include government imposed deadlines for filing your income tax return, or client imposed deadlines based on the clients various needs.
However, even with the imposition of all these deadlines, CPA firms can be somewhat flexible as long as you produce a competent product and meet client expectations. For me, this was a very attractive benefit of the profession.
If I needed to take time off during the day to take a sick child to the doctor, then I would make up the work time in the evening or on the weekend. It seemed like a win win. And for the most part, I think it was. In terms of the career choice, the potential for growth, job satisfaction, and compensation, public accounting turned out to be a pretty good choice for me.
Along with the choice was the attitude that being a CPA was a career choice and not a job choice.
What I mean by “career” as opposed to “job” is this:
When you have a “ job” you wake up each day, you commute to the place where you perform your duties, you put in your eight hour day, you get your five percent a year pay increase [if you’re lucky], and maybe if someone dies or retires you may get the chance to be promoted. Your job is not a major focus in your life. It’s a means to an end. Usually that end is paying your bills and taking the occasional vacation. A job is about existing. It’s about a paycheck.
It’s not to say that there is anything wrong with having my definition of a “job.” If you are happy with your job and your life, then you have made the right choice.
For me, a career is quite different. A career is something you feel passion for. A career involves setting goals and then finding ways to achieve those goals. For me it’s a primary focus in my life, something that I feel proud of and something that I strive to be better at each day. For me, my career goals are not something that can be defined by or attained in an eight hour day or a forty hour week. I am constantly looking for new opportunities or ways to improve myself. My career is something that I want to do, something that I choose to do, something that I find pleasure in. It’s not defined by money or by necessity, but by satisfaction.
By its very nature, a career is often life consuming. Careers take time and an incredible amount of energy. In my estimation anything less would just be a job.
So for me, what time or energy did that attitude leave for motherhood? Shouldn’t motherhood involve all the same aspirations and commitment as a career? For that matter, shouldn’t motherhood be a career?
Many times during my life motherhood and career seemed like two drowning women each one struggling to surface. But because of time and stress and obligation, the surface felt like a tiny hole just large enough to pull your head through and take the occasional gulp of air. And when Career would begin to drown, she would claw and fight and yank Motherhood under so that Career could surface and survive.
© Copyright 2008 Stacie Clifford. All rights reserved