Have you ever had the experience when you know without a doubt what you were made for? I've had it occur twice in my life: the moment I gave birth, and the first time I wrote an article. In each experience, I felt the surge of energy that comes when you do the thing that flows out of you most naturally (though not always easily). It's like tapping a wellspring that bubbles forth boundless energy and life from the deepest part of you. Being a mom and a writer has been two of the greatest sources of joy and satisfaction in my life. They've also been two of my greatest sources of conflict.
When my husband and I first started having kids, I was gung-ho on building my career. Freshly minted from college, it never occurred to me to stay home. I could (and would) definitely have it all.
But my professors failed to tell me about how hard it is to juggle 2 a. m. feedings and heart-rending decisions about daycare, all the while staying on your A-game at the office. And then came son two, followed by son number three. That was as far as I could fake it—this pretending I could do it all. I was ready to do one thing, and do it well. No more splitting my affections between work and home.
So I packed up my briefcase and headed home, ready to experience some work-life balance for the first time.
I was miserable.
For nearly two years, I couldn't get the hang of waking up each day to something much worse than an alarm clock: crying, hungry babies. I tried to plug into play groups and engage with my kids at their various developmental stages. The neighbors and I traded turns taking care of each others' kids so each of us could sneak some time to ourselves. I usually used my alone time to write. I wanted to keep my foot in the door of my old life, just in case the stay-at-home gig didn't work out.1