The “sweet spot” is when this “life formula” adds up:
Committed Marriage + Physical Health + Mental Health + Happy Family Life + Your Work Is also Your Passion (+ your personal cup of tea hobby and interest) = The Sweet Spot
Of course that never adds up perfectly. We all have sick days, sick kids, yes even bratty misbehaved kids, something annoying about our spouse and many other things out of our control to lead to one or more elements of that formula taking over and dominating the equation.
However, there are a few things in that equation well within our means to tweak and adjust and find our way back to that sweet spot. Of course marriage and health and family are lifelong journeys of learning with no shortcuts. Every birthday brings new wisdom.
Work though. Now that’s a choice. Where to work. How to work. With whom to work. When to work.
Even good work can go bad, at which point you chose to stick it out for the season or make a change. You don’t have to stay stuck in bad work.
Work is always changeable in some way which is an incredibly exciting part of life.
“You can be anything” is what we tell kids but not as often do we tell it to ourselves.
Recently my church featured me in this short video during a series called “Stories from the Water Cooler”. Last year I made the switch from working in a corporate 8-5 job that took me from my family so much to working for myself as a business consultant and founder and director of a non-profit. It’s a dream. Honestly. I don’t say that to brag. I say that because I want this for so many people. Not to do exactly what I have done but to find Work. That. Works. I want for young dads to not have to fly all over God’s gorgeous creation climbing the proverbial corporate ladder selling something their heart isn’t into if it’s sucking their soul. I want smart, talented moms to have work that flexes around their family needs. I want baby boomers to be able to care for aging parents and still contribute their wisdom and gifts in the work place. I want young singles out of college to be able to pursue the giant problems in our world with fresh new thinking. I of course want firefighters to find their place in their crew and department where they can best serve…and perhaps even a side career love that fills them up after a night of tough calls.
When you find work that works, you are best aligned to bring your best self and your best gifts to this world. To your life, your marriage, your family, your community and more. Ultimately, 24-7 COMMITMENT is about a commitment in all those facets of our life, including work. It’s hard to be committed to work that doesn’t work.
Doing work that works is……
doing work that matches your natural and learned talents
doing work in an environment (office, people, team, online community) that matches your personality
doing work that fits with your season of family needs
doing work that fills your soul
If you aren’t already subscribed to my working mom email list, you can register below. And yes, men are welcome too. And you don’t have to know a firefighter to get in. Because you all need to be finding creative ways to be home with your growing children as well!
Before I even start, let me clarify. All mom’s work like mad. But in this case, I’m using the term “working moms” to refer to mom’s who work outside the home.
The worst day of the year for me is the first day of summer vacation. It’s not because I’m dreading having the kids home. But it’s because I have a job that takes me out of the home during the day Monday – Friday. And while my kids have been excitedly counting down to the first day of summer, it breaks my heart that I do not get to spend this time with them. This year my kindergartener first grader (now) must have asked me 10 times “When is your last day mom?” and I choked back tears every time.
We all know that firefighters don’t do their job for the money. There’s a whole lot of love and passion that drives them to these careers with long hours and no juicy corporate bonuses. So many fire wives do work outside the home to supplement their income. I’m secretly jealous of all of you in the medical profession who have great options for going part time or contingent or working shifts that adapt more easily to your husband’s shift work. (Ok, the grass is always greener and I’m sure you all would highly debate me on that point…especially those working the night shift and on your feet the whole time!)
But my gifting is not in the medical field and the economy values my talents in corporate America. So off to work I go during my best, most alert and wide awake hours of the day for 5 days each week. I don’t hate it. It’s an amazing job with a great company, great people, enormous international exposure and travel opportunities and it matches with my brain and interpersonal skills. And let’s be grateful. There are many people out there who would LOVE to have my job. However, sometimes I feel like the best of me is given to my work and what’s left of me holds it together for my family every evening. And weekends are jam packed trying to make up for all the missed time in between. Give me a rainy weekend and a sunny Monday and it’s enough to send me swirling into the land of negativity.
Our culture was not always like this. It brings me comfort to hear the baby boomers acknowledge how expensive it is to raise a family these days requiring two incomes but also how difficult it is to have both parents working outside the home. And without my parents helping us with childcare on the times I need to travel for work, there is no way we could pull it off.
We constantly question “is it worth it?” Maybe we should just move into one of the $25,000, 1000 sq ft houses in the inner city where my husband works. Where my kids would not be safe playing in the yard. Where the 6 of us would be stacked on top of each other through the long Ohio winters. Where I’d be forced to home school my children for fear of their safety in the schools. Yeah. No. That’s not the answer.
But every year we do the Dave Ramsey snowball debt pay down math and we’re still waiting for that avalanche to attack our mortgage in a noticeable way, all the while closing in on the college years. Now here we are only 5 years from our oldest MOVING OUT OF OUR HOME and starting his own life in the (even more expensive) college season. And only 13 years away from potential retirement of my husband and realizing that is not really “the end” of our work life unless we plan to live in a cardboard box down by the river.
It could send me over the edge into a helpless depression if I let it. But I know that God’s got this. He’s providing every day. Our daily bread. One day at a time. And I need to trust Him with our future. My work is a blessing the enables so many wonderful things in our life. Our kids have access to so many schools and sports teams and cultural experiences because of it. And I have been so blessed in my corporate world with a company that has been flexible and accommodating through 4 pregnancies and the unpredictable world of sick children. I’ve been part time, full time, flex time, work from home time and everything in between. We are all being flexible to make it work. #sograteful
And it’s only because of my husband’s firefighter schedule that (we think) our kids are not seriously impacted by two working parents. They are not being raised in childcare and they get so much Daddy time during the weekdays and summertime when I’m working. And I am so proud when I hear my kids talk about the ways they want their careers to change the world (ok, let me pretend it’s because of my influence in global business that they’ve picked up on this. It makes me feel better). I’d be lying if I said my aching mothering instincts do not sometimes get jealous of the time Daddy gets with them. Especially when they are sick. Or have a special event. Or it’s the first day of summer break. Or they tell me I’m always on my iPhone. *sigh*
There is one major reason we can pull this off (better than we used to by the way). This is not an argument between myself and my husband. It’s a decision and trade off we made together (and constantly reassess in a healthy manner). My husband sacrificed advancements in the fire service to be home with the kids during the younger years. (Now that the youngest starts 1st grade he’s gearing up to get back into a 2nd job in the fire service). And I’ve sacrificed some Mommy time, especially these summer fun days, to help provide financially for our family. He supports my career. I don’t nitpick about tidy-ness and pinterest projects and the summer reading program I wished he’d do with the kids during the day. Our house is mostly a half decorated, cluttered disaster because we prioritize family over home improvement (but not over a sanitizing cleanse!). We have zero landscaping. That’s not where I want to spend my time at home. It’s incredibly freeing to let go of those standards of home decorating and organization that the world shows us today. And so far, our true friends have not abandoned us for these choices.
But sometimes, especially on the first day of summer, all that rationality goes out the window and I just want to cry and be home. Those are the moments reserved for a vacation day. A night where the smartphone stays in my purse and I pretend it doesn’t exist. A morning where I avoid planning an 8 am meeting so I can lounge a little longer in our PJs over breakfast before heading into the office.
Hats off to all the fire-wife-moms working outside the home this summer. Take it easy on yourself. Plan a lighter schedule (if possible) and come home to popsicle smiles and sticky kisses and make the most of it. Because they’ll be heading off to college before you know it!
My neighbor who does not work outside the house posted this photo for me yesterday of all our kids at the pool. I think we both envy each other equally some days 🙂
There are seasons when we need to hold onto the day job to support our family and seasons when there is nothing more important than getting the heck the out of there. Join our community of women who are burning the candle at both ends to do the right thing for their family and move their career to their kitchen table.