Can women have it all?

Growing up deep down I always knew I would have a family.  When recently going through old papers I found a research report I wrote in 7th grade titled "Daycare for Working Mothers".  Apparently it was on my brain early on.  In college I remember watching an episode of Oprah where she was interviewing women who had successful careers and left them to raise children.  It struck a chord with me, even though having children, let alone marriage was not anywhere on my radar at the time.

Since my children were born I have worked part-time in a job that fit my lifestyle was but was not completely intellectually fulfilling (ironically my job title was career counselor, yet my role was mostly administrative).  I then worked in a full time job that was my dream job.  I loved the work I did, but the hours did significantly cut down the amount of time I spent with my children during the week.  Now, having recently left that job, as we relocated to a new city for my husband's job, I am not working yet which has given me some time to process the whole thing.

I miss my old job tremendously.  I was privileged to work with a wonderful group of students who challenged me every day.  I had amazing co workers who were exactly the type of people you would want to have on your team.  My boss was incredibly understanding and never once gave me a hard time for missing work when my kids were sick, sometimes for what felt like weeks at a time.  If I could go back to that job I would in an instant.

However today I came to a realization- I am not as stressed out as I was.  Juggling the full time work responsibilities, a long commute, mundane household tasks, and everything that goes along with having a 2 and 5 year old was stressful!  It was the right choice for a variety of reasons, but stressful none the less.

I also realized that when working full time, I was carrying around a tremendous amount of guilt with me about being away from my children.  No one put that guilt there but myself.  My children were at a wonderful daycare, where their teachers felt like family.  They were well taken care of and well educated.  Yet I couldn't help but feel a pang every time I left them for the day.

Now I miss my work, but I also am starting to like the life I have started here too.  I have some time for myself while the 2 year old is in preschool.  I am taking better care of myself.  I am exercising again. I am lucky to be in a position where I can take some time to consider what my next move will be. Yet a piece of me still feels like its missing, like I left it in Ohio.

I don't know what the answer is, or what the future will bring.  Part time work seems ideal, and my search has been focused on that.  And as for the guilt, I am still finding plenty of things in this new role to feel guilty about- the house isn't clean enough, the kids aren't clean enough (notice a theme), I'm not as patient as I could be.

But can women have it?  Maybe the answer is to stop focusing so much on what could be, and instead try to focus on what is.  If you have figured out a way to do that, please share with me!


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