On life choices

Three times in the last month I’ve had similar conversations with three different women.  Two times it went like this:

I’m quitting my job.  I can’t stand it anymore. I hate being away from my kid and I don’t love my job.  Am I crazy? Am I going to be bored as hell? Should I do it?  

One time it went like this:

I feel like I’m only doing things half way.  Half time at my job. Half time with my daughter.  And I don’t feel like I get the respect I deserve from my job. What do I do? 

And all three times, my answer went something like this:

I don’t know.  I’m not you.  What do you feel like you should do?  The one thing I can offer is this: life is not a long perpetual linear line.  Life is more like a series of steps – some are really high – some are really low.  But the thing about steps is they all have a beginning and an end.   And right now – at this very moment in time – what does your step look like?

Do you have small kids? Do you want to care for them all the time? Can you afford to live on one salary? Will you miss going to the bathroom by yourself?  Do you love your job?  Will you miss the thrill of a career?

Because – bottom line – 90% of us mamas have some sort of guilt.  Guilt that the job isn’t good enough.  Or that we are good enough mothers.  That there isn’t enough time in the day.  That someone else is raising our children.  Or that we went to graduate school for international economics and are now reading library books to inattentive 2 year olds.  That life can and will be better if we take a different step.  And maybe it will.   And maybe it will just be different.

But remember. The thing about steps is that they are finite.  You take one. And then another. And then another.  You can make one decision (and it may be a big one) and then decide if it’s a good one or not.  And then make another one to change course.  Take a different step.  And re-evaluate.  THAT is a beautiful thing.  There is peace and goodness in that knowledge.  That one choice doesn’t define YOUR life.


I remind myself the transience of life’s choices daily.  When the kids are acting up and I wish I could go back to my career.  Or when they are wonderful and I know when they are older, I’m going to miss these days of summer childhood bliss.   Or when I spend time with our extended family close to home, where we chose to live, not where we need to live.  Or when the kids are tucked into bed and my husband and I dream about life after …

So if you are contemplating taking that step, take heart in the knowledge that no matter what it looks like, it’s not forever.  The kids won’t be little forever, and that job won’t last forever.  For better or worse, nothing is.