Sunday, May 22, 2011

Going Dutch

When I started this blog I was working full time and I was busier than even I can believe, looking back.  For blow by blow detail, you can search the archives of my friend Christine’s blog, Adeline’s Room.  I wrote a guest post on January 6, 2010 as part of her ongoing “How I Live” series featuring mothers describing their lives, schedules, and tips for staying sane.  I love the series.  When I wrote my post I was happy and I thought that I wouldn’t change a thing about my life.  …But then I did. 

When hubby started his “real” job last summer I had a choice about working and that choice really complicated things.  It forced me to think about why I worked so hard and wonder if it was the best thing to do for my family when the option existed to slow the pace without missing a mortgage payment. 

After a great deal of thought, I decided that I couldn’t quit my job altogether.  I am rather attached to it.  I care too much about the firm, its founders, certain clients, and my co-workers.  So I decided to try working part time and cutting out the travel.  It seemed like it could be the best of both worlds, but it wasn’t, at least not at first. 

I felt a little lost and sometimes I still do.  My work role is more peripheral now so I sometimes miss being in the thick of things at the office.  At home, I enjoy having more time to spend with the kids but it has been hard to shake the compulsion that my former self had to make use of every second and move at hyper-speed.  It is equally hard for me to feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of a day spent folding laundry, doing dishes, and grocery shopping.  It doesn’t feel as good as closing a deal and there’s no glowing performance review or year-end bonus to spur me on through the drudgery.

When I fall into a funk about not working enough or not doing enough over all, I re-read this fascinating article about Dutch women and how they embrace part-time work, and happily defer long hours at the office to men.  Or I think about the short time I spent working as an intern in a Spanish law office where everyone went home midday for a big lunch and a nap.  There are so many ways to live and it is mostly Americans who define themselves by their jobs.  I certainly did and that is what made the shift from go-getter career woman and mother to Mom with a part-time job so difficult.

I haven’t exactly sorted out a new identity, but I care less.  It’s become a less interesting question as I have gotten better at staying in the moment.  I do a better job lately of simply enjoying the many things I now have more time to do like playing with the kids, making them afterschool snacks they look forward to, volunteering, keeping up with old friends, and making new ones. 

I am learning to JUST BE and it feels good. 


  1. Hey Mommy V, the grass is the same on both sides of the fence, it's only our perspective that gets skewed. It sounds like your vision of all things is balanced. Lucky for those who share time with you, no matter what you're doing.

  2. Brilliant, I can learn from this also! Susan