Nearly 4 years ago, I gave birth to my daughter in what was the happiest moment of my life. I met this wiggly baby who had made my midsection home for months, and she shifted so much of my life as I knew it.
Suddenly, the long hours spent at work were not working for me, even though I’d always been a tough cookie and made it work in the past. The long nights out with friends has long since been forgotten, but soon lunches, dinners and happy hours gradually diminished into a quarterly catch-up brunch or birthday dinner. One-on-One time with my husband was reduced, and any time we had together, just he and I, became precious. Following that, my elderly dog became sick. She needed me at home, too.
Since that time, I have changed jobs in search of the elusive “work-life balance” I espouse and promote daily to new hires and managers, and found myself frustrated by incompetent people and corporate processes that keep me away from my family and friends even longer than they should. After all, if I have to be away from home, can’t my work at least be productive and fulfilling? I’ve given up social clubs and volunteering my time to those less fortunate, which I’ve always loved to do. Along the way, there were joys–we got a puppy almost a year after our old dog passed away, and she has been a joyous, rambunctious addition to our lives.
I finally asked myself, Who the hell am I, and what’s next?
The answer is in my heart, and has truly been here all along. Four years ago, I entered into a season of life that demanded selflessness and sacrifice to raising my daughter and keeping our home a healthy, happy and productive one. I didn’t entirely give up my own interests and social life, but they certainly went into hibernation for the season! I realized quickly that I had to change things if I was unfulfilled or feeling that the most important people in my life needed me more than things that may come and go. In life, my family will always be here even when jobs or other things may come and go. Sadly, this also meant that I was not as good of a friend as I wanted to be to a few people, and I know I let some people down. While I’m incredibly sad that it happened, I know that taking care of myself and my family was the right decision even though it may have stung myself and a few friends.
The seasons are changing on me again, as my kiddo is now entering preschool, our puppy is quickly growing into her life as our family dog, and I started a new job that I expect to give me personal fulfillment throughout the next season of my life. My husband and I have traveled together, alone, in the past year, and plan to do so again soon with a trip to Los Angeles.
People have noticed the change in me, and have said I seem more cheerful, relaxed and energetic than in ages. They’re right–I do! While I appreciate that the change is noticeable and receives positive feedback from others, it’s also pushing me to move forward with what lingering conundrum: What’s next?
With this season allowing me to breath again, it’s clear that next for me is jumping right back into things I care about–enjoying my hobbies and activities in my home city, taking care of myself, and finding new ways to bond with my kiddo and hubby.
Game on, life.