In pursuit of a fulfilling life

The path to finding balance and happiness in the everyday as a hard-working mom has been an ongoing pursuit since the time my first child was born.

Parenthood can be so much more than one expects. And with all the rewards of their bright faces, exploring minds and loving smiles, there is a deep realm of commitment, responsibility, and loss of time that is unfathomable prior to experiencing it firsthand.

Everywhere I go, other parents say to me, “Wow, you’re really busy,” and up until recently also, “Wow, you’re still in the thick of it. It will get easier.” I understand what they meant now, because I see myself coming up for air in a way that I never felt as a parent before this last year. And it has led me to search for the right balance, the right combination of time for self, family, relationships and more.

I remember being so overwhelmed by the amount of time my son was in my arms as an infant, the desire to simply “organize my hall closet” without the ability to even find 5 minutes to myself, the distressed feeling of not even being able to go to the bathroom without a baby in my arms or crying out for me… And while I did get a little reprieve from the difficulty of parenting when my first child became a toddler, it wasn’t long before life got more complex again.

Right around the time my second child was born, Tim and I decided to launch his new career and depend upon my income, during which I worked 50 hour weeks and tended to a new baby, which then dovetailed into us preparing for a third child while our second child was still in diapers. The pursuit of a healthy balance in my day-to-day life was shadowed by the overwhelming commitments of keeping our family going.

During that time, a conversation with a client whose boys had just grown up and were heading off to college pulled at me… she had found out her breast cancer was back a second time, after already losing her sister and mom to the same battle, and she told me how her and her husband had a long talk the night before, and all she could ask was “Were we truly happy when our boys are young? Did we really do everything we could to treasure those moments?” It really got me thinking about how I could make the best of parenting young children, how to cherish these times and be grateful for what we had.

Fast forward a couple of years… we had moved to Sonoma to help find a sense of peace amongst the outdoors and a slower pace of life, yet I still found my life going full speed ahead. I continued working full time running my business, and with an ongoing interest in charitable efforts, found a calling need at my son’s school to help organize and lead the parent volunteer organization. We had three young children who for quite some time were age 5 and under, and life wasn’t slowing down for me at all.

In late 2011, I had just attended my grandmother and great aunt’s funerals and had found myself more reflective on the big picture than usual.

While I was eager to contribute as a professional and in my community more than ever before, family at these funerals shared stories of how it was “being a mom” that was their most fulfilling contribution to the world. Did I have it all wrong?

A conversation with a dear friend had me surprisingly speaking the scariest truth that summoned a need for real change. “Do you know what my biggest fear is? That I will look back on this time, and feel like I didn’t cherish all that I had.”

What I spoke was such an absolute truth that it hit me hard. I enjoyed my volunteer commitments, running my own business which gave me professional satisfaction and allowed me to contribute to the family income,  and being able to have the kids involved with sports, activities and go on great vacations. But this all took great sacrifice from simply enjoying the moment in the every day, and certainly didn’t allow me spending an exorbitant amount of quality time with my kids.

It left me wondering, “Is it possible to pursue and cherish all the things that make us whole in life? Our careers, our children, our friends and family, our relationships, our community, our creative passions? Is it really possible to keep them all up, and be happy?”

I spent 7 of the last 8 years with at least one child age 2 or less in my house. Almost 5 of those years I was pregnant or breastfeeding, and a little longer than that I had at least one child in diapers or being potty trained. On top of that, I ran my own business full time, sometimes with just a few days of maternity leave when my second two were born, and have been a dedicated volunteer at my son’ school for the last 2 years.

Timing seemed to be just right for me to start solving this problem, as not only had I planned on stepping back from my overcommitment to the school at the end of that school year, but as my youngest daughter got closer to age 3, I found that indeed, there is so much more time and autonomy capable for moms once there are no toddlers in the house pulling at you constantly. My kids can now play by themselves for hours on end at times, and this was probably necessary for me to start putting in place some needed changes as well as have the energy and mindset to believe in those changes.

Sometimes keeping up with all the things you should be doing keeps you from thinking about (or thinking it’s possible to do) what you want to be doing.

What I thought I wanted was a pretty house with beautiful children who had all their needs and wants met, great family outings, to work hard at my job and give a little to my community.

What I’ve learned is that, even more important, is feeling like I have time to enjoy all the little moments, teach my children, take long walks and live a fulfilling life.

I’ve learned that happiness comes from great moments, and great moments come from being present, feeling the moment, and letting it be the only thing that matters.

Living My Life in Balance

My path to learning how to live in the moment, live my life in balance, and find happiness daily started with many of the resources listed here on this site – click here. And it’s why I started this blog. This blog not only tells the story of how I’ve learned to live my life in balance, it’s keeping me accountable to my commitment. Because happiness is a journey, not a destination.