Monica Lawver over at Confessions of a CPA has a great post; It’s Supposed to be Hard. In her post, she talks about how she defines success and touches on how she is balancing work and home – Monica’s answer “barely.”
Barely is an honest answer, I feel you sister CPA!
Every time someone reaches out with that question, I want to get in her face and say – if you want to have children treat it like a full time DAY job, not the second job that you try and tackle after you get home at night. If you are pulling off children first and then job somewhere down the line, then you have it in the right order.
Boy oh boy do I have a strong opinion about this subject – and probably a more unpopular one. Why? Because I am not going to be one of those people who offer answers about how I did it or how you can too. No Sir.
You want to know why people are always asking the question – how do you balance your work and home life? Because it’s hard. For many people it is impossible. And if you are feeling that things aren’t working out, there’s a whole industry of people who will tell you that following a few rules, taking some advice, and scheduling your life, will result in “work life balance.” They will sell you books, give lectures, and show up on TV talk shows all in the hopes of convincing you that they have the answer.
Oh ya – well, I say – bologna (bull -o-nee).
I have no problem with giving someone asking the honest answer – which is – It’s really really hard and it takes a special person to pull it off, and even then – it is still a crap shoot, so better think twice before you try to combine marriage, motherhood and career.
As a mother of five, combined his and hers, and a former single mother for 10 years, I can attest to the difficulty in balancing work versus motherhood. Motherhood really is a full time job, and let’s face it; few people can successfully pull off two full time jobs. Even a two parent working family requires that the parents have a second job called “raising the children.” And we know that at least one of these parents will usually take up more of the parenting slack.
Do I sound jaded? Well, you should know that I pulled it off – the road was bumpy yes. And my husband and I each had our own “troubled” child. But today the children are fine, graduated from high school, attending college, getting married, living normal lives. And nope, no drug problems or jail time – fingers crossed – so far so good.
But there were also times when I just didn’t think we were going to make it, particularly with the time requirements of being a CPA. I also saw friends and colleagues struggling to meet this contrived definition of career and motherhood. They believed it was achievable. Why wouldn’t’ they? All we ever heard was how other successful career minded women were making it work. Nobody wanted to be the one that admitted – I don’t think this is the way to go.
What do I think?
Well, I would never ever choose to be a single mother. So obviously, I wouldn’t have children when I wasn’t married, and staying married would be a priority. (Not that staying married wasn’t a priority before, but that is another story). And another thing – I think that children deserve to have at least one full time parent. Someone who is there when they need them. I would treat motherhood as my one and only full time job. And if I did want to work while the children were in school, I wouldn’t be a CPA. In fact, my job might consist of stuffing envelopes or answering phones, something I could leave behind at the end of the workday.
I know there are many women out there who believe they can and maybe are successfully balancing work and motherhood, and good for them.
However, no matter how hard you work at it, and I don’t care who you are or what you do, if you have a “career,” there will be times when there will be suffering, by either you, your spouse, your job, or your children. It’s just a matter of waking up in the morning and deciding whom it is that will suffer that day.
Don’t think so? Well I know this, if you are a tax professional working to meet deadlines, I know the exact dates when you will be waking up and deciding who will be the sufferer. Because here is a news flash, a child’s needs never fall neatly in line with the tax calendar. For that matter nobody’s does. And if you think your clients, your employer, or the IRS really care that your child has a cold, well then… whom will you choose to be the sufferer today?