Having Your Cake and Eating It Too…

Among other things, one of the things I love most about finishing a semester of study is being able to get my thoughts back to myself. No longer is my mental capacity maxed out by trying to recall the diagnostic criteria for various personality disorders or distinguishing between mood, anxiety and eating disorders – riveting stuff I know! In all fairness this semester was pretty engaging for me but it does take its toll.

For the next few weeks I get to focus on my family, read for pleasure (for the few minutes of bedtime reading that I get before passing out) and generally just enjoy the lack of pressure and deadlines that come with assignments and exams. Bliss!

On reflecting what it was like for the past 4-5 months juggling study with a newborn I can’t help coming back to the old adage of having one’s cake and eating it too.

For the most part, I really can “have it all”.

I have a wonderful husband and son which make for a very rewarding family life, I’m fortunate to be able to be a stay-at-home-Mum, I’m finishing my psych degree so  that I can open up a range of new work opportunities for my future and I’m starting to think about what sort of work from home I might be able to do later in the year to bring in a few extra dollars. Clearly I have no complaints!

Credit where credit’s due, I’m lucky enough to have amazing family support which is the only reason I’ve survived this semester of study. Without it there’s certainly no way I would be sitting in my lounge room on the evening after an exam feeling cool, calm and collected. It’s because of their generosity of time and energy that I’ve managed to avoid turning into a bug-eyed monster propped up by caffeine running off of vapours (not a pretty picture let me tell you).

As I start to mull over potential work ventures, it dawns on me that for every new thing I take on, there’s at least one guaranteed consequence – I keep getting spread thinner and thinner. Unfortunately, these grand undertakings don’t come inbuilt with an extra store of attentional capacity so it stands to reason that the more I take on, the more I split my focus. Sure, that’s the juggling act we all manage on a day-to-day basis, but for the first time I have an extra variable that I haven’t had to deal with before: What impact does all this have on my son?

Don’t get me wrong he’s not being neglected or suffering in any way. Quite the opposite in fact. His grandparents have been more than happy to spend as much time as they can get with their grandson and there are plenty of arguments to be made about the long-term benefits of all this for my son but the question remains: Where do I draw the line?

Sure I can have my cake and eat it too but should I?

I don’t have all the answers yet but it’s certainly given me pause for thought.

Image courtesy of Microsoft ClipArt

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Putting the Mamma into Dee: Creating a Career out of Motherhood

I’ve had jobs I’ve enjoyed, I’ve had jobs that I’ve been good at and I’ve had jobs where I’ve met some wonderful people but I’ve never really considered myself as having a career. The jobs that I’ve done have all played an important part in my journey but they have felt like a means to an end, until now.  For the first time, I feel like I’ve found my career, it’s just come in the unexpected package of motherhood.  What’s slightly ironic for me in this realisation is that, before now, I’d never really considered motherhood as being a career.  I don’t know whether that’s because I associate careers with something that you ‘go out’ and do or whether motherhood doesn’t follow the trajectory of other careers but all I can say is I’ve finally found something that fits, something that challenges me every day and something that provides fulfilment and meaning.

I looked on child rearing not only as a work of love but as a profession that was fully as interesting and challenging as any honourable profession in the world and one that demanded the best I could bring to it ~ Rose Kennedy

Now while this new career comes with some significantly different and relentless working conditions and there’s no such thing as sick leave, weekends or promotional opportunities there’s some undeniably appealing rewards that no other job has been able to provide.

Every day I get the opportunity to watch a human being develop and grow. Whether it’s watching the fascination of my son learning the feel of new textures, the furrowed brow that appears when that board book didn’t taste quite as good as he thought it would or the wide-eyed amazement that appears whenever a new sound is heard, there’s a certain je ne sais quoi about watching someone experience the world for the very first time.  And while the responsibility of holding someone’s well-being in the palm of your hand is incredibly overwhelming, the ability to spend my day nurturing and caring for another person is both enriching and fulfilling. Plus, I get to do something that I love every day.

On the lighthearted side of things, I never get that Sunday Sinking Feeling – you know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach come Sunday evening when there’s no hiding from the fact that in a few short hours the weekend will be over and the Monday morning alarm is going to sound. Now while I attribute that to the fact that I don’t dread my current working situation in any way, shape or form it could also be that this role is 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Admittedly not all of those days are poised with the same level of patience, good humour or grace as others but the job satisfaction far outweighs the demanding hours. Plus, the wardrobe requirements are definitely more comfortable and economical, although I do miss the pretty shoes….

Don’t get me wrong, not every day is full of sunshine and roses. We have our down days too but without fail at the end of each day the slate is wiped clean and every morning my team, or is it boss (I’m not so sure some days), gives me a big, beautiful smile that lets me know that the work that I do is valued.

I don’t know where this quote comes from but it makes me smile and reminds me that motherhood, just like anything else in life, is best accompanied by a sense of humour:

It’s so hard to get anything done when you have a baby hanging off your boob at least 8 hours a day. Breastfeeding is a full-time job where you are on call 24 hours a day, you have to come in even when you’re tired or sick, you never get a day off, you don’t get paid, and the boss constantly gives you shit ~ Unknown

As I start out on this exciting and challenging new career I can’t help but wonder what will be waiting for me down the track and I can’t wait to find out.