When I married my husband at 21, I believed that I would stop working permanently as soon as I became a mother. In my mind, motherhood was the ultimate calling and I would devote all my energy to raising my children and supporting my husband and his career aspirations.
Six years later a lot of that remains true. I am devoted to my family but I am also unwilling to sacrifice my own personal aspirations simply because I have a husband and children.
At this stage in my life, my children take a good chunk of my time and energy, but I still find I crave the fulfillment of pursuing a career that I love and allows me to express myself creatively.
A fellow mother and writer, Joan Chand’oiseau, who writes and edits the Canadian website mADD world, explained my own personal dilemma between balancing motherhood and career aspirations well when she wrote:
"By prioritizing the needs of my children above all else for such a long time, it then became more like a 'sacrifice' of my career aspirations and personal goals. It’s perhaps important to remember that balance is never equal and fluctuates. Balance will be the give and take of the priorities you set and the decisions you make."
There are many reasons that mothers end up sacrificing their career aspirations for the sake of their children. For Joan, who was voted in the Top 40 Under 40 in Calgary, she chose to step back and devote more time to her family when she discovered one of her children had special needs.
Each of our situations are unique. For my family, I have prioritized and sacrificed my personal goals because I cannot sustain a full-time career along with motherhood at this stage.
But, I still struggle at times with the sacrifice. There are days when I wish I could work full-time, pursue a career in journalism, and perhaps even write a memoir. I love writing and I thrive when I push myself past my own personal comfort and try new things.
Much like motherhood, writing is exhausting and draining, and not something I can keep up with full-time right now. I know that I cannot sustain both motherhood and a full-time career well, and I have had to ask myself what is my priority right now?
The answer for me has been my kids. It is not the right answer for everyone — that is the beauty of family and different dynamics. As my children grow in self-sufficiency and become more independent I can focus on my own personal goals and fulfillment through my writing. Like Joan says, the balance is simply not equal, and it will fluctuate.
As I prepare for the upcoming arrival of my third child I also prepare to step back completely from my job. As a self-employed freelancer, I am not eligible for maternity leave, so I must make my own decisions on when to stop working, and when to return to work again.
I have decided that for my own sanity I will return when I feel ready. Perhaps that will mean nurturing my word babies will my real baby naps in the bassinet beside me. But the privilege in choice is all mine, and I will not use motherhood as an excuse to guilt me into sacrificing my own personal fulfillment.
One thing is certainly true, I am honoured and privileged to have a career that brings me joy and fulfillment, and a family that I truly am devoted to.