We are so thrilled to be featuring guest bloggers all year long. These individuals have navigated their own way through the journey that is being a working mom. This month, we hear from Michael Kubek, founder and owner of her own financial advisory and tax accountant business. Thank you, Michael!
Every working woman with a family has to perform a constant, daily juggling act. There are numerous choices throughout the day which involve the demands of your job and the needs of your family. No one that I know has ever said that she got it right all the time. Everyone that I know says that it is one of the hardest parts of being a working mom.
My story is not the typical one, but the juggling act was no less intense. I thought I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, that the job of raising my children would bring all the fulfillment I needed. I discovered much to my horror after my daughter was born, that I was bored. Thus, began the journey I took to the working world beginning with additional education and volunteer work.
The fact that my husband was first chronically, then terminally ill complicated the picture and delayed my return to work. Following his death, I both wanted and needed to work full time. Being a single parent to three grieving children increased the challenge. And so, my juggling act began….
Almost every day I took an early morning walk to take care of myself which was essential to both my physical and mental health. During the walk, I planned the day and worked on the decisions about which corners could be cut and which could not. Some of those corners were not too difficult such as the shift from home-made spaghetti sauce to that purchased in a jar, or taking store bought baked goods to a school party rather than home-made. There was some guilt involved, but I managed to get over it without too much trouble.
The harder choices occurred when one of the children had a real need for my presence and my workload demanded my full attention. It was so hard to make those choices. I knew I was letting someone down no matter what I did.
I remember two times when the choice was particularly difficult. My oldest son at age 16 was invited to a turn-about dance—his first real date. He wasn’t particularly interested in the girl, but the evening was a rite of passage. Part of my job was preparing tax returns and this event was two weeks before the end of tax season when I was working 14-hour days, seven days a week. I chose to stay at work, and I regret it to this day.
A couple of years later, both of my boys desperately wanted to go to the mountains for spring break which of course, occurred right at the height of tax season. I simply could not get away even for a few days. After wrestling for some time with my conscience, I rented a condo and let the boys go, each of them bringing a friend. I both knew my oldest son at age 18 was extremely responsible and I couldn’t bear to let the boys down once again. I held my breath for the entire three days and found myself wondering what on earth I had been thinking when I agreed to the plan. The kids had a great time and felt quite grown up. If there were any behaviors I wouldn’t have approved of, I never heard about them from the kids or the police.
Eventually, after many other times when the demands of both job and family conflicted, I
gradually learned that giving myself fully to my children when I could, communicating my reasons and frustration when I couldn’t, continually demonstrating my love for them and my commitment to their success was enough. I realized that they were more resourceful and more independent because I wasn’t always available. Were there times when I disappointed them? Of course, there were. Did it permanently damage them? No, it did not.
Ultimately, my juggling act strengthened both me and my children, enabling each of us to be more flexible and resourceful. For instance, all of my kids, including the boys learned to cook. The years of juggling weren’t easy, and were certainly stressful and messy at times, but it all worked out in the end. All three of them are highly functioning, happy adults. I am now watching my children perform their own juggling acts as they wrestle with the demands of family and jobs. It is part of being a working mom!