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…Continuing Onward In My Existential Crisis…

Posted by | July 14, 2010 | IMBALANCE | 25 Comments

existential crisis: a stage of development at which an individual questions the very foundations of his or her life, whether their life has any meaning, purpose or value.

Last week Margie was on vacation. I took the week off to be home with K, O, and M. It was a week I was very much looking forward to. It was all that I knew it would be: the joy, suffering, elation, dread, relief, anxiety, fulfillment, boredom, connectedness, isolation, and never-ending-questioning that each of these sorts of weeks always is for me. I spend much of the time thinking, “See! This is how it would be if I was a stay-at-home-mom!” juxtaposed with, “This is nothing like what it would be if I were a stay-at-home-mom.” I become obsessed with daring myself to imagine what it would be like if I didn’t have my career in tow. I become uber-obsessed with the never-ending-excruciating-questioning of my most major life choices, philosophies, and foundations. And the experience of being home full-time with my kids for a week always ends with me on the couch with a glass of wine tearfully pondering the meaning/purpose/value of my very existence in life, and Braydon sitting in the chair with a glass of wine carefully analyzing my existential crisis. It is very cathartic and therapeutic and it always makes us both feel better but it almost never gets us anywhere. And then we get up the next morning and go to work. And the honest truth is, I don’t even know where I want to go with all of this— except— I know for sure— that I want to somehow find peace with it all. And I worry, greatly, that I never will. Which deeply disturbs me. Because I feel like I’m wasting way too much time emotionally and psychologically caught up in my tortured questioning of my very essence during this phase of my life. On one hand, I believe this sort of questioning and self-identity challenging is one of the most important quests in an individual’s life. On the other hand, I find it pathetic and repulsive that I have the privilege to indulge in this sort of higher-level-philosophical-meandering. I mean, shouldn’t I just be grateful for all that I have and be done with it? Shouldn’t I just be able to be happy with it just being what it is? But the problem is, every single day that I leave my kids to go to work I feel like I might cry and it takes at least five minutes down the road in the car before the lump in my throat subsides (and some days it never does). I miss (like, really, really miss) my kids when I’m away from them — even for an hour — and I hate not being there for every single second of their lives lived. I love making our house a home, making simple suppers into lovely dinners, running the show, and being Mama. And the other problem is that I feel (at least, enough of the time for it to matter) deeply committed, passionate-toward, and called-to the work (outside the home) that I do. It is almost embarrassing to even write that, and honestly, I don’t want to explain all of that right now (and I definitely don’t want to appear to be tooting my own horn)– but as any student who has ever taken a class with me, or as any person who has ever heard a public talk by me, or as anybody who has ever worked closely with me can attest– I actually have a gift for what I do. The work I get paid to do is work that I believe actually matters and needs to be done in the world. I can only explain it like this: In terms of my work, I believe — almost all of the time — that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing in this world. The problem is that this work is wrapped up (and inextricably linked) with a demanding career that requires constant tending. And that takes me away from my kids. And that means we require childcare. Which subsequently results in me not being with them all the time. Which means — and this is the bottom line — I miss out. Yes, my kids miss out on me too. But I’m not so egotistical to think that that is too much of a problem. I know my kids are in part as awesome as they are because of the various important influential players in their life— and these people include their babysitters and nannies and teachers and other care-givers. My kids need Margie, and I want them to have her (all that she is; not “just nanny”) central in their lives. And I am a better mother when I get away from them, do meaningful work in the world outside of our home, and come back feeling like a relatively whole and internally fulfilled contributing member to the greater good. However... and this is a big ‘however’… I can’t seem to stop being haunted by the feeling that I’m missing out.

I know what I’m missing out on because I’m close enough to my children, and spend enough time with them, to be fully aware. I know all the tiny details and nuances and moments that I’m not there for. And I hate that. I also know the work of being home, and I am thankful to be able to get away from that for awhile each time I head out to my office. Honestly, it is a mixed bag. But it is a very complicated, messy, jumbled-up, fuzzy, and more-and-more-showing-the-wear-and-tear mixed bag. I’m not delusional enough to think that I’m alone in this. I know that I’m not. But that doesn’t help make it any easier on me. Whether I am or not, I continually feel like I’m a stranger in a strange land, pioneering some new frontier, and flying in uncharted territory. The demands of work and home just are not getting any easier. The quest for that elusive “balance” just seems more and more daunting as each week, month, and year unfolds. None of this resembles in any way what I thought it would be. None of this is anything that I (or we) were prepared for. None of this is easy to explain or understand. It is what it is. But it is not easy. And, to be frank, I really think that it is something that only someone who has ‘been there done that’ (or, even better, is there and is doing it) can even somewhat relate to in any real way.

I go off, and I come back. I’m at home, and then I’m at work. And everywhere I am, I feel this deep nagging angst. The existential crisis continues. And continues. And continues. And just when I think that I might be rounding the corner, I realize that I’m not– that the corner is not there to round and nobody seems to have any answers for me. Either that, or, this corner is oh-so-very-very-sharp and nothing that anybody could ever say or do would make it any rounder.

So, at lunchtime on Friday of last week I asked the boys what they would like for lunch. Normally I give them 2 or 3 simple options (peanut butter and jelly sandwich? turkey and cheese sandwich? or yogurt?) and they choose one of them and that is that. But I left it wide open and just asked them what they’d like. Kyle piped right up and the sweet little thing said (and I have no idea how he came up with this because I haven’t done this in a long, long time– like maybe over a year), “Can you make us heart shaped sandwiches? You know, the ones that you press into hearts with cookie cutters to tell us that you love us?” It wasn’t what I had expected them to request, but once it was requested there was no turning back. So, of course, I did it. I painstakingly made their bologna and cheese into lovely little hearts and presented them their plates oozing with love and sweetness and telling them how much I love them to infinity and beyond. And the three of them sat on the couch and ate their little hearts out while watching a video — and the boys asked for seconds and believe-it-or-not I even actually did the whole thing again and made them another round — and — they were in mommy-at-home-heaven. And I sat there with them, eating the cookie-cutter-remnants of the crusty cut-off pieces of their sandwiches, and watching them eat their lunch and all I could think was, “I wish I could do this everyday.” I know that these heartwiches are completely pathetic in so many ways and on so many levels.  (It is semi-humiliating to even admit that I made them and I’m sure plenty of folks out there would enjoy having a heyday scowling at my Martha-Stewart-Esque-Heartwich-Ridiculousness.) And yet they represent a lot too. They say, “mommy loves you so much that she’ll take the time to cut out these precious little sandwiches for you”; they say, “I love these kids so dang much that I’ll do this ridiculous thing for them”; they say, “there is time for this” and/or “mommy has made time for this”; and, amongst many other things too, they say, “there is nothing in the world more important than this right here and right now.” There is good and bad, right and wrong all wrapped up in that. No child should feel entitled to such things on a too regular basis. We all need to know that we aren’t the center of the universe. However, there is absolutely nothing wrong with filling them up with a little uncensored love-fest every now and then.

So, if I were home full-time, I would be tempted to make heart-shaped sandwiches everyday. I would be ridiculous (I know I would). If I do what I do now — with a whole career in tow — it is scary to think of what I’d be doing if my time was entirely devoted to my kids and home. I know myself well enough to know the pitfalls that I’d encounter and the problems I’d create. My kids would not be who they are. Braydon would probably hate me. I’d surely hate myself. Still, none of that makes it any easier to kiss them goodbye in the morning, knowing that Margie will be playing Candy Land with Kyle and Owen, and putting Meera down for her nap, and making my three precious ones their lunches (lunches that are never as good as “Mommy Lunches”). Nothing about that is easy. Nothing.

And so it goes. And, as anyone who has ever gone through this knows, this post barely even scrapes the surface of it.


  • maggiebrandow says:

    My eyes are welling with tears as I read this post. This is the exact conversation my husband and I have been having all week. As always, I *get* you. I am being this and doing that, and I completely get you. Oh, it hurts. It hurts. You are right–there is just no good answer. Please know I am with you, and I hear you, even though I have never met you. Thanks, as always, for putting words to my feelings and the feelings of so many other fully-mom-yet-fully-talented-outside-the-home women who are reading. Hugs to you.

  • fourxk says:

    I have had the same conversation so many times in the last 20 years. I have summed up motherhood with this. GUILT. I have tried many times to think I have nothing to feel guilt about. It is the life we have given ourselves. It tears you up inside yet covers you with a blanket of love that you can't live without. In the end we will all survive. Our parents did and our kids will to some day.

  • MorMor says:

    I love you and am proud of your choices HBJ. xoxo

  • candisgillett says:

    Oh yeah, THAT dilemma. I teach rhetoric (and I love it). As you well know, to be informed, engaged AND interesting as an instructor requires countless hours of prep and interaction time. None of which would be a problem except I find as I grow older I love being at home and making a home (and my family loves it too). Everything is in its place. Everyone is more relaxed. Meals are healthier. The house is clean and calm. Last year my husband took off six months and took care of everything. I luxuriated in leaving at 6 a.m. to prepare lectures, write, meet with students, and return at six p.m. to a sparkling home with a happy relaxed family.

    I admit that part of my career focus has been driven by a desire to be independent financially and emotionally, but thank goodness my husband does not view homemakers as "children of a lesser god." His mom has always been a homemaker and she is a witty woman, a knowledgeable financial manager, and a great cook. I am beginning to conclude that there is great dignity in my running a home as a career. I think it is time to let go of my other life–perhaps a year or two…

    I completely understand your (and my) angst. After all, didn't Plato reference Socrates when he wrote: ὁ δὲ ἀνεξέταστος βίος οὐ βιωτὸς ἀνθρώπῳ [An unexamined [human]life is not worth living]? May we all get through the "exams" intact 😉

  • tricia.vanderkooy says:

    Thanks for sharing, and I'm so glad to see the comments are supportive to you (glad you went private!)

    I know I'm one of the big "reader groups" i.e. female doctoral student wondering how to balance family/work/career and appreciating the insight you bring to the issue….so on behalf of my fellow-readers, thank you for sharing with us.

    I'm committed to my career – and I'd really love to have children someday – but my understanding of this situation is much more nuanced, reflective, and sensitive, thanks to your sharing.

    Kenbe, pa lage (Hold on, don't give up)

  • Jonez says:

    It's not humiliating at all to make heart shaped sandwiches for your kiddos. Quite cute, actually.

  • gtmccormick says:


    The work you do truly is important. You can make a real difference in young people's lives. Not many can say that. Owen, Kyle and Meera are all receiving wonderful parenting from various sources. That's rare too.

    Pain, unfortunately, appears inevitable, but fortunately in your case joy appears to predominate. Carry on.


  • Maggie says:


    You are my favorite teacher of all time. Keep doing your thing(s). You have so many gifts.

    I love you.


  • stevensh93 says:

    Thank you! I also struggle every. single. day. with this dilemma…and have found no good answer! I LOVE my life as mama and LOVE my life as a teacher, but find the two lives hard to run at the same time these days! I love your blog…I look to you for inspiration and appreciate everything you share…I can SO relate to you. Keep up your good work…you are an AWESOME mom and I am sure an AWESOME professor!

  • clbrooke says:

    I am there, right there with you. I don't have exactly the same angst, but I have angst, about this balance and these choices. Nothing about it is easy. Nothing. You are quite a role model for your daughter. Hopefully the struggles you are having will help her with hers in the future.

  • cherylalander says:

    Dear Heather,

    Relax! You're both doing a wonderful job.

    The children are well rounded and happy.

    Focus on the positive, and love the fact that you've got the support of a loving family and Nanny.

    press on



  • marymarcelle says:

    From now on I'm just going to cut and paste your blogs – how did you summarize that so well? Tonight, I got home at 8pm following a 12 hr work day – I SPED home to see the boys who were both, by their fathers report, sick when I called at 6pm. I got to spend less than 5 mins with one and less than 15 mins with the other saying hello since they were already in bed when I got home. For what?

    -a really, really, REALLY sick guy who drank himself to near death. Turns out the guy had to go to surgery anyway, so my 4 hours working on him today were useles.

    -another minimally sick guy who's feeding catheter wasn't working as of this morning, but somehow I had to try to unclog it at 6pm because he lived kind of far away

    ie, not "saving lives" but just dealing with other people's bad life choices/problems. For this I gave up an evening (not to mention all day) of seeing my kids. And this happens 1-2 times a week and every fourth weekend when I'm committed to the hosptial, and thus, cannot be committed to them.

    When I have vacation I always think "Wow, this is what I would do ALL the time if I didn't work." Water parks, movies, field trips, fun meals. We'd have food in the house -which would be so organized – bill paying wouldn't be so last minute, I could actually potty train my younger son, our social lives and foundation work would be organized…the list goes on.

    When I first saw the photo of the sandwiches I though -Damn! Heather is ROCKING working motherhood!! :)

  • mwenmanmi says:

    Hi Heather, I relate all too well. D, A & M are all school aged, so we all leave together in the morning. But summer, oh summer. Teacher papi is off with them and I go off to work with the lump in my throat (that sometimes stays) as I miss the lazy days by the pool, the sprinkler soccer, the trip to the lake, the mac & cheese lunch (that's papi's specialty), the family late nights (I have to go to bed to get up in the morn)….you name it.

    I have been through some big things this year, and with the healing and restoration of my heart has also come big changes of heart. I once loved my career and I am good at what I do. But I don't see what it matters to me anymore. Things have changed for me.

    Still, I get you. And can't wait to see you in a few couple of days.



    p.s. Candis (above) is my dear friend.

  • jenstoller says:

    I get the existential crisis. I have it because I made the decision to stay home two years ago when our second was born. I gave up what I consider to be a pretty important career (legal aid lawyer) because my husband has a pretty important career himself that happens to be totally crazy in terms of difficulty, loooong work hours and mental and emotional commitment. I just couldn't see how our lives would work if I kept working outside the home. But, yet, I MISS working, I miss making a difference in my clients' lives, I miss interacting with adults. I worry that I won't be able to return to practicing law, which I enjoyed.

    Our oldest is like Owen and Kyle in one body. I'm not exaggerating – multiple educators with lots of experience have described him as having more energy than any human being they have ever met. He has some other challenges that mean he is a lot of work and a lot of joy, and I think he has really benefitted from more time with me. We also have two younger ones that are not nearly as challenging but still need a lot.

    I also have to tell you that staying at home wouldn't always be like the stray weeks of vacation. No one can sustain the heart sandwiches, the clean house, the smoothly-oiled machine indefinitely. At least I can't.

    For the record, I have made cookie cutter heart sandwiches as well. :) Not pathetic at all.

  • gon_hikn93 says:

    Heather. first Hugs. Truth be told I always wanted to give you a standing O when you'd post about these struggles on the old blog. I thought about the damaging and insulting responses you would, undoubtedly recieve and could only think- that you were given many gifts. 3 huge and primary ones of Wife, Mother and Teacher. These are God's gifts (among I'm sure many others..) but, denying any one of these, isn't being truthful to yourself, anyone in your family or God. He gave you free will. So it is with great anticipation that you undoubtedly know that one day you will have the opportunity to weigh and balance these gifts differently than you do today. And that too, is a gift.

    I used to work my tukas off, at our state University- 50-70 hours a week. On these beautiful summer and spring sunfilled days, I would look out the window and kick myself, wondering why I was wasting it inside and dream of the days I would be a SAHM playing with my son (who was yet not here). Well- God's great gift gave me my wish… sort of. I lost my job 3 mo after bringing my son here from Ethiopia. I've been able to spend an extra 4 months with him learning more of his and our needs and laughing and getting to know eachother. It has been a blessing. BUT NOTHING LIKE I EXPECTED IT TO BE!! I'm grateful. And grateful to now be looking for a new position- and good child care for him.

    At some point you may have the opportunity to take a sabbatical. refresh. review. revise. and Renew.

    I hope I've been supportive and not all preachy no it all-ish. Hugs of support to you!

  • dchapru says:

    Gosh, do I know your pain and dilemma.

    During my son’s upbringing I taught in public schools, directed yearly musicals with huge casts and later staffed a Ph.D. program and administered fellowships a major research institution. I, too, would love to have been at home. Would my son have been less out going, more dependent, more fearful of new adventures? I don’t know. I do know he is fearless about tackling house repair projects because he had to help me fix things when we didn’t have the money to hire someone else.

    Because I encouraged him to design his own forts out of scrap wood, explore every point of interest in our country and accept the offer of a job on a farm when he was twelve, he developed his creativity, curiosity and strong sense of responsibility.

    We made amazing valentines for all his classmates, went winter camping (only once!) on ground so hard we broke the tent stakes, planted a garden, played with our dogs, baked cookies, learned to downhill ski – well, he did – laughed until our sides hurt when he first tried to drive a stick shift and cried together when the time was right for him to leave home.

    Fortunately, we are very close – even more so since he became an adoptive father a year ago. My heart nearly burst when he said “Mom, now I get it. I really get it. I don’t know how you did it by yourself.” I have been totally forgiven for the moments I crashed, wept, lost my cool or had to cart him off to a sitter.

    Your children are learning much and obviously adore you. Look back at your many fascinating posts and see all their “firsts” you observed. Some day they will be proud of you both as a mom and as a professor who has done much for your students. Share with them what you do. I’m writing down things I’ve been proud of so my son can have a sense of how I have lived – starting with the fabulous mudpies I made when I was four and including graduate students whose careers I saved by finding them funding.

    All this won’t get rid of the lump in your throat but it might give you a different perspective. Maybe you’re due for a sabbatical that includes recording observations of your kids in preparation for writing a book. Hugs from cyberspace.

  • momof3 says:

    I am at home and there are days when I long for an outside job. I think, like anything else, the grass is always greener on the other side.

    Off topic: I just got the kids their laptop lunchboxes for school in September. we'll probably break them in when we go on vacation next month. Do you use the water bottle that came with it or did you find one that fits in that little space?

  • Maggie says:


    I have been thinking about this post a lot since I read it, and since I am one of your past students (or, an "HBJ disciple" according to my boyfriend) (which is probably pretty accurate, let’s be honest) who you have always encouraged to pursue this thing called a Ph.D., I thought I would share my reaction to this post with you.

    This post is hard for me to read because in so many ways, you have the exact life that I want to have someday. Thus, the things that you struggle with right now are probably the things with which I too will struggle one day in the future. And, based on your words, it sounds like quite the struggle. Can I handle it someday even close to as well as you are handling it right now??

    This post is also hard for me to read because I really want to be a mother. Like, right now. And, will that ever actually happen? Will I ever be a mother? Sometimes it seems like all my friends are getting married (I’m ambivalent due to political reasons) and buying houses (ugh) and having babies (yes!). And what am I doing? Sitting around the library reading social theory, supposedly trying to advance my career, and pontificating in coffeeshops to my friends about how f-ed up the world is. I'm living this incredibly self-centered, self-indulgent life–a life undoubtedly filled with all sorts of privilege–many people who want to do this Ph.D. thing do not even have the opportunity to do so. And yet, there are kids that really could use what I have to offer. Kids that live here in my city. Or really, in any city (in large part, due to a lack of social services for impoverished families which is a side discussion regarding the child welfare system in this country that I won't rant about here…). Kids that I could nurture and love and support if I weren't so focused on me, spending years and years in school simply to be perhaps one day rewarded the prestige of a Ph.D. And yes, I volunteer and I used to teach HS and I've worked with kids in many different capacities, but still, what about being a MAMA?? In some ways, I feel like I am putting off this motherhood thing that I so desperately want [RIGHT NOW!] to build this career, to finish this degree, to get a job, to get tenure, to EVENTUALLY maybe(?) have this family that I want so badly?? (Obviously this entire comment reflects my class background which is another whole side discussion–why I feel like I need all of these other aspects of my life in place before I have children is wrapped up in a class mentality that is obviously problematic. And, maybe I won't do the whole professor thing. Who knows…I know there are other options.)

    All of this is really to say that somehow, I guess symbolically, your post resonates with my desire to be more than just a scholar–my desire to be able to live a life that is full. A life where I can teach and make meaningful differences in the world and work toward social equality and justice while at the same time, having my own family.

    Finally, if graduate school is such a waste, why have I stuck it out for so many years? Why have I moved twice and given up relationships and friendships over it? Why do this at all? And, the answer is very simple: This work that we do *needs* to be done. Whether you want to look at it as a "calling" or an "ethical responsibility" or whatever, the point is, no one else is going to do this work, this CRUCIAL work. This is what you taught me…and I believe you. And, this is why I haven't dropped out, despite some close calls! 😉

    So, I guess I just want to thank you for your honesty with this post. And, as hard as it is to read and ultimately accept since it both reflects literally what I hope my future will resemble and symbolically, some of the current internal struggles I have with myself, I love that you have *always* been brutally honest with me–whether it be feedback on a paper, guidance about the drama of graduate school, or relationship advice–you've always been real with me. And, that is what makes you so awesome. So, please don't stop now!! :) You are such an awesome mom and mentor, and I appreciate you so much!!!

    <3 Maggie

  • laurafingerson says:

    I had a big career and then resigned to move back near family (where I had no idea I could develop such wonderful relationships) and to stay at home with my then-toddler twin girls.

    One of the best things about staying at home? I have *time*.

    If the girls saw a playground out the window on the way home from preschool, we could stop and play. If it took 30 minutes just to get out of the house to go grocery shopping, it was just fine, we had time. If we only lasted at the zoo for one hour because my girls were too tired to stay longer, that was okay, because we can go again later. If it takes an hour for breakfast every morning because my girls are enjoying themselves at the table, that's okay, because we are not in a rush. When I was working full-time, I was always rushed. Quick, get this lecture prepped before my meeting! Quick, have 30 minutes of quality time with my kids before bedtime!

    The thing I most miss about being a working parent? Interacting with colleagues and students every day and getting paid for actual, special, valuable skills that I have. I could go on and on here, but many of you have already covered these things.

    Thank you for the blog post and thereby creating this brief, yet supportive forum, Heather!

  • meghanmw says:

    I just love Maggie the student's reflections – and 'she' is the reason you do what you do even as 'the 3 lovelies' are the reason you want to just make heart shaped sandwiches all day long.

    I remember walking through a grocery store once with my mom and I was talking away about some frustration (financial/structural I suppose) as I was tossing grocery after grocery in my cart…my mom stopped me mid 'talk and toss' and said, "look at what you are doing – what an incredible luxury to know you aren't going to bounce a check at the check out." (As she did, so many times)….I don't know, her pause really framed my own angst. I try very hard to live in and with the privilege of my life in a most reflective way.

    Thank you for framing this so honestly. It's important for women right here right now, and women like dear student Maggie to really "see" this tension. I think about it myself with my own daughters, in particular, who are young, amazing women who want to be both mothers and professionals. *sigh*

    It's profound stuff, really.

  • hparkerlaw says:

    Oh, Heather. I feel you, chica. Barely scratches the surface is right! I felt the same way (the difference was, although I am very good at my work, I was not happy with it — in fact, I hated my firm and the work I was doing, but liked all the trappings of it — the accomplishment, the contribution, the – GASP – time away from home!). Then, enter autism into our lives and I had to/wanted to make a big change. Now, one year into work-at-home lawyering/stay-at-home mothering, I still feel the same unrest (though my family is much, much happier now than when I was working 60+ hour weeks). The push and pull. The missing out (on kids . . . on career . . .on both . . .). I've struck the perfect balance for me and for our little family, I really have (and I LOVE being self-employed), but it's still hard. Every day. And the most surprising thing I learned? That my son does better at school, around other kids, with his loving teachers, than he does at home with me. Six months into being home, we put him back into daycare EVEN THOUGH I AM AT HOME. How's that for a weird situation (imagine the backlash that would've gotten on your non-private blog! ACK!)? But it works for us, he's happier and more regulated, the time when he comes home I'm there and able to be really engaged and it's all-around great plan for us. I still feel like I'm missing out (and disappointed that he needs the other people and that I'm not enough), but I'm at peace that it's right for us, and so I no longer feel guilty. Which is a huge accomplishment.

    Wishing you peace!

  • C. McCormick says:

    Those are the most perfect heart-shaped sandwiches I have ever seen. I think that answers the question about whether you are doing the "right" thing with regards to staying home with the children or leaving the children to work. I truly see it as simply as those beautiful heart-shaped sandwiches.

    You are a dedicated Mom and gifted teacher. Most people are able to do one well and you are able to accomplish both After 25 years I still anguish, question, ponder if I did the "right" things for my children.

  • lauraepowell says:

    I too always enjoy reading your reflections on life. Thank you so much for being open and sharing your thoughts. Before our two children came home from Guatemala I was working at a college. My work with students was very important, and I felt like it had great value and I was making a difference. Then after our long adoption journey (I am sure you can relate) our children came home and the transition ensued. It was a rough first year, I was working full time and going crazy. I felt like I could not do anything well, my job was only getting part of me and my children were getting even less by the time I got home. And then finally I asked myself, why did I even want children? Why did we even want to adopt if I am not here, emotionally, physically, mentally? I was not enjoying my work (always feeling like I was missing out) and I couldn't focus at home (alway wondering how I would get it all done).

    And so we made the hard choice for me to stay at home. And it by far has been the most difficult job I have ever had. The day in and day out is not picture perfect and I still struggle as I figure out how to be a godly mother and invest in my children. But I would not trade it for anything. No one loves my children the way I do and takes the time to discipline, love, and form their lives the way I do everyday, they are just not as invested as I am.

    These days are short, and all of us are trying to hold onto these moments, I hope that you can continue to find the balance that you need to be able to look back with with no regrets. Something we are all striving for!

  • laurafingerson says:

    To Laura Powell — You totally wrote a lot of the exact (exact!!) things I feel and have experienced. Thank you!! Even though I don't know you, I feel a bit validated and that really helps!!

  • Laura says:

    I have also been dealing with a similar struggle. I spent the last three years in a very stressful banking role – leaving the house at 7am and returning at 6pm…followed by working in the evenings after the kids go to bed. Our two children are very busy elite athletes. My husband also works incredibly long hours. As a result of the stress, I became incredibly disengaged from my husband and my children. I enjoyed working and it became what defined me.

    Midway through a very stressful assignment, my 8 year old approached me as I worked on my laptop at the dining room table (at 6pm). She said, mommy can you come play with me. I got upset with her and told her no. It was in that moment when I said, what am I doing?

    I finally took stock of the entire situation and realized that I was suffering from depression and that my priorities were completely misaligned.

    I have since taken a medical leave to focus on the depression and get my life in order. I now realize that missing sleep and meals for work is not healthy. The anger and frustration that the stress caused was not good for my relationship with my husband and it was destroying the spirit of my children.

    I have been seeing a counsellor and have defined 4 goals for myself.
    1) improve self care, reclaim my identity and live in the present
    2) focus on my relationship – figure out whether to stay together
    3) figure out what to do about work – I can’t go back to banking…but I will otherwise take a salary cut
    4) find a work / life balance

    I have been going to yoga three times a week which has proven to be very therapeutic and spiritual. I have also been spending a lot of time with my parents. My children are over the moon that I am home with them. I’ve had some time to focus on the little things around the home that I’ve never had a chance to do. I’ve gone through photos of extended family and hung them on our walls. It was all about me before…and now I realize the importance of others and how much I rely on them for fulfillment and happiness.

    I expect to be off work for a while. I don’t know what I’ll end up doing…but this process feels so right. I know there is a stigma with depression which is why it took me so long to identify it…but I don’t care anymore. My family is just too damn important to me.

    Take stock ladies. Follow your heart and do what is right for you.


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