I had a couple of conversations recently that got me thinking about this topic and I wanted to share my experience. Inspired by the “It Gets Better” movement and idea – I thought it applies significantly to stages in life and that really knowing and internalizing that it does get better might lead people to different decision.
I was at an offsite business meeting recently with Drew Garcia (SugarSync VP of Product Management) and Jason Mikami (VP of Operations). It was a beautiful Friday morning. While waiting for the meeting to start we were chatting about the great weather and I mentioned that my husband and I had enjoyed the gorgeous morning by going for an early hike at the Stanford Dish. They both looked at me incredulously – how did we manage such a thing with the kids. By way of background Drew has two children – newborn and two year old and Jason has a four year old. They are both very busy – of course with their work at SugarSync, in addition, Drew’s wife works as a management consultant at The Trium Group, and Jason and his wife have an award-winning winery that they manage.
I assured them that Steve and I were not exercising together before work when our kids were little. Our mornings then, like their mornings now, were completely crazy just getting ourselves and kids out the door to work and school. What I realized is that since they are totally in the midst of this intensive parenting/juggling mode they can’t even imagine a future beyond it. It is such an immersive, consuming experience that I just think it is human nature to feel like it will go on that way forever.
In my case it wasn’t forever but it was a long time. My oldest son is 26 and my youngest son just turned old enough (16) to drive himself. With four kids and a big age range it has been 26 years of responsibility for kids that needed morning driving. No wonder it seemed like forever. And it was many years of juggling, lack of sleep, and rushing…all the challenges that working parents experience. But amazingly enough, I blinked and that time is nearly over. I’m lucky when I get a kiss goodbye from my son in the morning – he is super independent. And for many working parents who have their children in a shorter period of time, it goes by even faster. On the other hand, I feel like I still have a potentially long professional career in front of me. Both of my parents and my father-in-law are still practicing physicians in their 70’s. My Great Uncle retired from the law at 98! I hope that my best work is ahead of me. Bottom line, I’m looking forward to that work and am glad that I slogged through that time when the juggling meant very very little “me” time.
So this is a reminder, to those in the heat of it. It gets better, or at least easier. Stick with it – you have much to contribute not only to your families but professionally as well.