Today, my oldest daughter turns 22. My husband and I had been married just a few months, when we found out we were expecting. I was so happy but so unprepared.
We had graduated from college, married, and moved from Iowa to Chicago in May. Fortunately, he had a job and I was planning on going to graduate school at the University of Chicago. After visiting the university, and driving by a McDonald's with bars on the windows, I decided that this was not the right school for me. I had no real experience with diversity....this was after all the 1980s and I had grown up in a suburban neighborhood and lived very close to UNI.
So, I started working part-time, and looked for full-time work while we started planning for our family. There was little thought about finances and daycare. Meanwhile, I started working as a Marketing Assistant and was accepted to Northwestern University for the following June.
When our daughter was born right before Mother's Day, we brought her home to a house we had been in just a few weeks. I prepared to start graduate school in three weeks, and we set out to find daycare. Three weeks after delivering a baby, I started graduate school, went back to work part-time, and we adjusted to our new schedule.
For 14 years, I focused on finishing graduate school and my doctorate, while working my way up the corporate ladder. We had moved back to Iowa shortly after I finished graduate school. Meanwhile, my husband pursued various positions and careers. We had a second daughter. Then, seven years ago, I transitioned to teaching college full-time. Life slowed down (and so did my salary). But, our girls were active, my husband was traveling, and I knew I needed to stop traveling and be more available at home.
Now, I have resigned from my full-time teaching position. I am teaching part-time, and working on a few contract projects. My husband and I are flipping a house. My salary has changed again, but this time, I am more ready to slow down and accept a different pace of life. I want to work enough to live but LIVING is my focus.
My family is still important! I still want a career, but I want to clearly separate my work and my personal time. And, as I told my 16-year old, I want to be at all your games and concerts, but I have some things I want to do for me too. Somehow, in our effort to provide for our family, my husband and I lost our focus for each other and the things we like to do.....imagine that!
For now, I am committed to providing a more balanced focus in my life!