(A letter to my daughter after a challenging day, sprinkled with pictures from our 19-week photo shoot. Feel free to just skip to the pictures!)
Dear Baby Girl,
Today was a difficult day. I am in the midst of growing pains as I learn to balance the different roles in my life. I am your mama but I love my work, so rather than making sacrifices I choose to fully embrace both.
There are those that provide awesome encouragement and reassurance that I really can “have it all”, but sometimes I feel like I do both – work and family – a little less fully than I would if I chose one or the other. And you know what? I am okay with that. Not to say that I don’t give my all to both or that the quality of either suffers, but instead I acknowledge and accept that my work may take a little longer than it used to and my time with you may require a little more planning and intentionality. It doesn’t make either poor quality or less important.
There are those that remind me that “it could be worse” and I agree. However, that doesn’t make the difficult moments any easier when you are in the midst of them. It just makes you feel guilty for your honest emotions. Use others’ experiences to give you perspective but not to lessen your own.
So instead I choose to balance, to juggle, and to make an effort to integrate the different spheres of my life because, really, they aren’t separate – they are inextricable parts of one, single life. No matter how hard I might try to divide and conquer, it just makes more sense to me to integrate. I bring you to work, I type standing up and bouncing you in your sling, I try to get you to take a nap by softly explaining what correlations are and how to test for mediated effects. I run out of diapers and forget my thumb drive and lose your socks and get my skirt twisted up in the wheels of my desk chair. I get frustrated and discouraged.
And then I realize that you are learning. You are learning what possibilities are out there for a woman and you are learning that you don’t have to choose between a family and professional accomplishments. You are learning to pursue what makes you happy and gives you meaning even if it is sometimes a hard path. I hope you remember these early lessons and that they foster strength in you. I hope you learn to balance but also to not feel guilt for the learning process that accompanies change. I hope I remember that little girls have big ears and that the way I approach my challenges may shape how you approach yours.