Look, every decision we make has an upside and a downside. If you cut back to 20 hours a week at work and limit your travel, you'll certainly see more of your kids, but your ascent to the corner office will certainly slow down. That's reality. It's the way business works, and I would even argue that it's the way business should work. Availability matters, especially in times of economic crisis. And yet, all too often we blame someone else—society, our bosses, our co-workers with no kids and tons of ambition—for the downside of our judgment calls.
How nerve-racking such mind games can be.
How freeing it is instead—how energizing—to accept ownership of our lives. I will never forget the day when I did that. All four of my kids were under 10 years old at the time and, as usual, dinner included a recounting of school events and other activities I had missed because of work. "Why can't you be at soccer practice?" one of my sons started in.
I was just about to launch into a sob story about financial security when, suddenly, it dawned on me that money wasn't the real issue. It was a smokescreen I put up to avoid talking about my values and choices. If I wanted to be home full-time, we could downsize our lifestyle to make that possible. But the truth was I loved my work. It felt important to me; it gave me purpose and happiness. I honestly believed that it made me a better mother. I wasn't sorry I worked. Indeed, I'd made a decision to do so. Now all I needed to do was acknowledge its consequences.
Which I did with a nice long lecture.
The complaining soon stopped. I'm not saying my kids suddenly started loving my decision to work, but they came to understand and accept it with me.
Know that time is on your side