I’m a member of Generation X. I had a mom that stayed home with my sister and me, while my father worked as an engineer. We lived a solid, healthy middle-class life.
Yet from my earliest memories, I remember my mom coaching us on how to live as adults. Go to college. Get a good job. Never rely on anyone for your income or your happiness.
Maybe it was because she didn’t work. Maybe it’s because she desperately wanted college, but her parents felt it was a “waste” because she would just get married anyway.
She pushed. And she succeeded. I received both a B.S. and M.S degree. And I’ve been working since I was 14 years old.
For me, it’s never been about working or family. It’s never been about a job or staying at home. I’ve managed to focus in on doing both to the best of my ability, and it works.
I have a great husband who has always been my equal in every way. He was our daughter’s primary caregiver the first three years of her life, working weekends building our photography business while I held the 9 to 5. He cooks. He cleans. We share in all we do. I can’t imagine it any other way.
Through it all, we brought up our daughter with the knowledge she can and will have it all. She is shocked by stories in the media today, talking about “women’s work” versus “men’s work.” Because for her, she has watched and learned from people who have accomplished it all through trial and error. She can go to either of us for any question she may have. She knows her parents are equal in every way.
We’ve given up a well-funded 401k for the opportunity to work from home and be our own bosses. We’ve given up fancy titles for the chance to have life balance our way.
I watched my father work through the stress of a corporate job that downsized and laid off personnel that were months away from retirement.
I watched my mother yearn for things she didn’t have – a college degree – yet never could work up enough courage to see her dreams to fruition.
And I learned.
It guided me to make my own choices, right or wrong.
I chose to go to school to help me become the person I am today.
I chose to leave a corporate position to pursue more life balance with a business I could operate from my home.
I chose to build small businesses around me rather than going back into the corporate world because I could control my days around me.
Sometimes that means working 16 hour days. Sometimes that means working through the weekend. Sometimes it means a field trip with my daughter. Sometimes that means a weeklong getaway with my husband.
In reality, isn’t that the price of having it all?
Doesn’t having it all mean doing things the way you want, the way you desire them to go?
To have it all means following the path of your choosing. It never means standing by and allowing others to be your guide.
It doesn’t mean having perfection all the time. It doesn’t mean being in love with your life all of the time. It doesn’t mean you don’t make mistakes and have to backtrack and redo the road from time to time.
It means getting the proper support from around you, whatever that means for you.
It means enjoying your life the way you’ve created it.
What were the two best gifts my parents gave me?
Education provides the opportunities.
Vision guides the choices I make.
I learned by watching their actions. I grew by interpreting it and putting it into place.
“Life is a journey, not a destination.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
For some, they assume “having it all” is a final destination. I would argue it’s all about the journey along the way.
We learn. We grow. We do.
We do. We teach. We impact.
That’s all I can hope for with my life. That’s all I can hope for with my daughter’s generation. And I think we’re all on a pretty good path.