It was a humid, salty Saturday and we had booked in a tradesman to finish the renovation of our bathroom. We laid in late, chatting about the changes that were about to come in our lives as we waited expectantly for our first born to arrive. It was 8am and my waters suddenly broke. Three weeks early in the aftermath of redundancy.
Novice Parenthood unleashed a tirade of change in our swaying adulthood yet it distilled so much of what we held dear. It was like the minute we became parents our eyes opened to so many things that had remained clouded by the past.
Legacy became a regular synonym in our early parenthood conversations.
What do we want to leave for our children?
How do we parent them in such a way that they become kind humans?
Is there anything in my life that I do not want to replicate in theirs?
Teeth bulged, nappies exploded and purpose waned. It was like the toddler years of our babies confused the sense of purpose that we so had heartily stepped into Parenthood with.
We ached for legacy. We discussed the legacy that our parents had imparted in our lives and we debated how much was too much in the balance of family life. Legacy became a key word in our families foundational years and we launched a business that the key vision was to leave a legacy for those who had little. We believed in this pursuit so much that we named the business after our children. Going back to the days where businesses were named after the family name. Strength and Freedom became our passion.
This sounds so noble and it is the greatest of pursuits but honestly living life with perspective on legacy is so damn hard.
Asking questions of ourselves like…
Am I so busy helping everyone else that my family is lost in my compassion wake?
Shauna Niequist from Present over Perfect answers this question as well
“I’ve preferred to believe that I can be all things to all people, but when I’m honest about my life, in the past couple of years Ive been better from a distance that I have been in my own home. I have given more to strangers and publishers and people who stand in line after my events that I have been to my neighbours, my friends.”
12 days into Novice Motherhood back in 2012, after being made redundant and the reoccurring thought “Was I not good enough” I was tempted back into the office with a job that seemed so enticing. Over the next year, I was offered fifteen different roles, from organisations that were so amazing and the opportunities were overwhelming.
The terrible truth is I would have done anything to escape the tyranny of the in-between. Motherhood was nothing like I expected. The shake I felt so deeply in my soul in my sense of worth and purpose was palpable. Every time someone asked me what I now did, my voice was shaken as I whispered I’m a “stay at home mum”.
Five years later I have walked the deep waters of discovery around this topic and I am now once again ready to step into the days of career with new perspective and grace, however, I will always need to reframe how much I do outside of my home and allow legacy to be a boundary that shapes.
In this season do my family feel like they have my attention when it is required?
Do my littles know that they come first?
Is there anything in my career/ work life that is overwhelming my family in weight and responsibility?
This is the call of Legacy.
I believe both is possible, but conversations like this from Shauna’s book are important and valid. We need to be able to walk into spaces where we understand that every woman’s season looks different and the call of legacy is expressed in different ways.
What did this section of the book bring up in you? regret, peace, thankfulness or something else. I am so interested in hearing what you discovered.
Happy Friday Book Club Friends.
If you want to go back and engage in the other chapters and writers, they are all linked here.
12 thoughts on “The day I realised my career could have ruined my family”
This book just keeps hitting me between the eyes! Having kids changed me in a way I wasn’t expecting and made me take stock of what I value.
I’ve always been an achiever or doer so staying at home with them challenged me. I could easily tell any organization I’ve worked for I’m available and get a job and with that a sense of significance and value. I’d be asked to do more and then I’d do more…which is why I don’t….
I think I feel peace with what I’ve chosen but of course I struggle with it every so often. I miss people telling me how valuable I am and how capable I am. I’ve had to find other ways of channeling my energy and desire to ‘do’ which works for my family. So I’m studying and I do a little (and I mean little) work from home two days a week.
I hope this will show my children they’re my priority and allow me to input our family values into their lives. We make sure we have dinner together every night and have family time every weekend. We choose to be present.
Maybe in another season my work will feature more and I’ll teach my kids how wonderful women in the workplace are and how capable we are.
I loved this chapter. Shauna’s words made me crave being present to my family beyond anything else like never before. Her words helped me say goodbye to my phone, productivity, and to do lists for the days my little people are home with me. I’m using more of my creativity at home with them too. Oh and enjoying sitting with them and watching a movie. This used to be the time when I would ‘get stuff done.’ My ‘done’ is now reframed with sowing into the relationships that I want close for the rest of my life.
Such a fabulous section of the book hey. For me, I’m wanting to work out how I can do both. Be purposed and present. Truly seeing who is in my today and walking with intention into my tomorrow. Is that possible? I believe so. It just is a little slower. ???
Oh the lure of ‘fake-resting’ hey Carly! I do it all the time too … I fold clothes while the family watches a movie together, or I cook dinner while they do spelling. I am so used to multi-tasking I can’t turn it off.
Slowly learning and trying though, to be present in the boring, beautiful everyday of my life. Because they won’t remember all the neat folded clothes. They will remember that Mum never had time to watch a movie with them. And that would suck!
Love this. I had an awakening this year, that I am actually a terrible multi tasker
This book has questions that just keep hitting me between the eyes! I had dreamy expectations of how I was going to be a stay at home mum but then financial pressures ensured I had to work a little and put my little one into daycare at eleven months old – something I swore I wouldn’t do until she was two. But right as I had to do this I was DYING to go back to work. I did not feel productive or effective at home and I missed being a valuable and capable member of a workplace. I was really torn. It was so hard bringing her home and having her fall asleep at the dinner table and not spend time with her. Three months of this and I was pregnant again and we decided that the dream house we had built was not worth sacrificing our family for so we sold it and bought a much smaller house that could be managed on one wage.
The struggle is real…I miss who I am at work and giving of myself. I know that I have made some major contributions to organisations and peoples lives that I so desire to do again. I question all the time what if my legacy is through my work? What if my voice will be the only one some people hear? But I also want my children to hear my voice too and leave a legacy of family for them.
Just yesterday I could have taken up two job offers at a friends birthday party. An old boss told me he needed a management position filled with that longing in the voice that says ‘Please tell me you want it’. And I did. I thought about what I could bring to the table and how I could really do a lot for his company and I ran ahead with ideas and things I’d implement. But I reined myself in and reminded myself that will be for another time because if I did it, I would give everything to it and nothing would be left for my family. Whatever I do, I have to give my all to and I’m still learning how to not do that. I’m learning the art of balance.
An old colleague asked me where I was working (nowhere, just a little at home occasionally) or if I was involved in leadership at my new church (no, not at all). He sighed ‘What a waste of talent. We’d have you back any day. You can come back now’. I loved hearing that, not gonna lie but I know that I’m where I need to be right now so I just smiled and said ‘Oh well’.
OK…so, I find the idea of “legacy” a difficult one to negotiate and make peace with and, truly, although I don’t usually use the word “legacy” the concept as it is being discussed is one that I have had different seasons with as I have grown older.
My thoughts on this subject remain a bit random and not fully formed but some things that come to mind for me is that focusing on “legacy” itself; thinking too far ahead and about what I will leave behind, what I may regret…has a tendency to be so very big that it obscures making each little decision on it’s own merits….sometimes, just taking the small steps in the right direction is what, in the end, adds up to the life well lived, the amazing breakthrough, the strong relationships, the deep knowledge within the people that you love that they are important.
I know for sure that on some of the biggest projects and phases of my life the end goal, the important document, the final deliverables, even when highly successful, pale into comparison to the impact made by building relationships and treating people well along the way.
Yes I think your thoughts totally sit in the pocket of shauna’s whole premise.
That if we remain present, over perfect(purpose focus, thinking too far ahead, over thinking, future driven) that we focus on those in our today.
The biggest shift for me personally is I’m naturally predispositioned (very much my family legacy) to be an overachiever. Driven, self sacrificing to the point of not looking after myself. I grew up with a house full of visitors and a focus on helping others that often we got lost in the process.
So my big adult/ parenting shift has been how do I live a life of compassion/ going above and beyond and also be completely present to those in my today.
A huge shift for me.
Thanks so much for your thoughts, I especially love the last paragraph. And that is something I have come to learn and long for as I grow older. And also have more space to reflect on whether I am respecting people along the way.
I love these thought too Sandie, I think the essay on ‘When brave looks boring’ is a key one for me in regards to this.
And to answer your question Amanda, this is my biggest challenge from this chapter. Who gets my best energy? And who gets my left-overs? Because if my family are getting my left-overs all the time then something is out of whack.
Such a challenge.
Today I said to my friend.
In the next month I need to say no more. Now to follow through
This book just keeps hitting me between the eyes!
Being single was so much easier for me…I could give to who I wanted and what I wanted. Being married and then having kids certainly made re-evaluate who gets what. I had dreamy expectations of being a stay at home mum and then financial pressures saw me back to work 4 days a week with my little 11 month old in daycare. I had sworn she wasn’t going until she was 2. BUT right as this was happening I found myself chomping at the bit to do more work so I kind of made peace with myself.
3 months after that all happened I found out I was pregnant again and my baby girl was getting home at 6pm and falling asleep in her high chair having dinner barely seeing us. My husband and I decided that having our big dream house that we had built wasn’t worth compromising our family values over so we sold and downsized so we could live on one wage.
Stay at home mum phase two was in process. I found it hard, I still do. I am used to being in work environments where I have contributed on a high, meaningful level and I have to say I miss the accolades that go with it. If I have to say what my legacy is to my children, it’s actually my time. I’ve input a lot to other people and now it’s time for me to input to the most important people I know – my littlies.
I’m peaceful about it but I do look forward to doing my thing back in the workplace. Though I know there’s a phase there where I am going to take on a simple leave it at the door job because if I go back to leading or managing or pastoring my family will not get my best and I know it. But that’s ok too.
This is such a wrestle hey. Mums with older kids, does it ever stop?
I admire your thoughts here greatly.
It is like one minute I am stoked to say and be a stay at home mum and the next I am reaching out to do anything away from the home. Such a wrestle.
Thanks for your thoughts