My partner Jen is 5 and a half months into her pregnancy and I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of our daughter. I have to admit when we learned she had gotten pregnant, I had this flash of terror that my career, for which I had worked so hard, was over. It was going to be subsumed by diapers and play dates and burping, I was going to lose all touch with who I was, the whole bit. I rode out a few little waves of aftershock for the next couple of hours as I got my head around the idea and became more and more overjoyed with the news.
It all got me to thinking, and then I happened upon Tina Roth Eisenberg: The Power of Side Projects and Eccentric Aunts, a talk given by Swiss Miss earlier this year. In it, she speaks about using the births of her children as inspiration for her work. She said that when each of her children were born, she used it as an opportunity to reassess and evaluate her life and career. She has used their births as catalysts for major life changes.
How my child’s arrival can change me for the better
I see the impending birth of my daughter as an opportunity to leave behind the last remnants of my wilderness years, when I just looked out for me. The things that have slowed me down at times–my goofing off, my self-indulgence–will have to take a back seat to parenting, there are no ands, ifs, or buts about that.
- I get to learn what my priorities actually are in the face of exhaustion and amazing, never-before-experienced love
- I get to work with my partner to figure out how to parent, thereby growing all the closer to her.
- I get to learn how to balance work and family… I have never had a balance like that before. I’ve always just lived to work.
How I am preparing myself for motherhood
I haven’t been reading the manuals and such as much as I would like, but I have been cleaning house on a personal level.
- I have been reestablishing friendships with people I love so I can introduce my daughter to those I think most of.
- I’ve been purging all kinds of crap I have held onto for years.
- I’ve been working to be a better family member both to my own fam and to that of my partner–I am part of a larger whole now, got to get better at being a reliable part of it.
- I’ve completed several projects that I had put on the back burner and tried to establish some key contacts in the industry. I need to be the designer I have only dreamed of being before.
- I have tried to go through my client list and pare off any that expect me to be on call 24/7.
- I have tried to pick up some key good habits like working efficiently. Normally, I tend to dawdle a bit…
How having children will make my career more meaningful
I think of my mom, who raised three of us in the backwoods of Virginia. She was amazing: despite the fact that we were poor, she always made sure we were well taken care of. No matter what, she also always held onto her dreams: she fought hard to always own horses, even if she had to buy them from the meat-market guy. I grew up riding beside her on my very own pony–I cannot complain about my childhood at all. Instead of feeling neglected when my mom worked with her horses, I felt proud of her.
- By making sure my work life means something to me, I will be in a position to enrich my child’s life immensely. My mom shared her passion with us and taught us so much in the process.
- By having a healthy sense of perspective, I’ll be all the more effective at work. Instead of getting wrapped up in the academic drama, I will do what I need to do and get the hell home.
- I’ll not be as tempted to take on too much at work, leaving my focus clear and concentrated.
- I get to set an example for my children using my career as teaching material.