Recently I was asked to talk to a group of college seniors about pursuing careers in business after they graduate. Looking out at 50+ young, fresh faced seniors made me realize how far I have come since I graduated, and how much my outlook on working and life have changed. I remember being a senior, and thinking that I was going to do it all. I was going to have a fabulous, exciting career, and a husband, and kids. I never once thought about what it would actually take to make all of that happen.
Now, almost 15 years later, I have managed to have a great career, and have a wonderful marriage and 2 beautiful children. But it has not been as easy and seamless as I thought it would be. The number of compromises I have made in order to make my life happen –is almost overwhelming. The interesting thing as that most people looking at me from the outside, don’t ever see or acknowledge all the compromises. They assume that one part of my life must be suffering, and for the most part they make the assumption that it’s my family life that must suffer.
The reality is that I compromise on both ends, and that makes my life work. At the end of the day though there is one “loser” in this compromise. The loser is Sabrina Parsons the person, not Sabrina Parsons the CEO or Sabrina Parsons the Mom and Wife. The actual part of my life that gets compromised the most is the “me” part. I don’t eat as well as I would like since I am always rushing around. I don’t work out as much as I would like, because I simply run out of hours. I don’t read novels for fun anymore – I am always reading business books and tech blogs and articles. I recently realized that going to the supermarket BY MYSELF is actually a treat. I get to spend 60-90 minutes in peace – without anyone asking me for anything. When shopping for groceries by yourself is a treat – you know that you have made a lot of compromises.
So how does this relate or help all those other working women out there, who either are already moms, and struggling to figure out their balancing act, or will be moms, and are afraid of what will happen to their careers? My biggest piece of advice to all women in the workplace is to be realistic about what is possible, and make appropriate changes to their careers and family life in order to create the balance that works for them. This may mean a career change or a change of jobs to a company that gives more flexibility. It may mean looking at moving to a place where extended family can give help and support. But what I think no woman should ever do is put herself in a situation where the only compromises happen on the family side. Ultimately you will resent your job and your career, and the Mommy guilt will overcome you. You will have to make compromises, but just make sure that both sides of the coin compromise. On day I hope to figure out how to make myself more of a priority – but for the time being, I love my job, I love my family, and I can live with a little less “me” time.