I was Type-A…until I had kids
If you had asked me when I was twenty what I would be doing at forty, the answer would have been definitive: killing it at work. When I was in my twenties I imagined my forty year-old self doing big, important things, ideally on a global scale.
Instead I work in a sun-filled office just off the living room and right above the basement playroom. My power calls are sometimes interrupted by shrieks, tears, and occasionally throw up. My computer has a tiny peanut butter thumbprint on the top right of the screen that I can’t bring myself to wipe off. And well, I’m not the boss of anyone…but myself.
Somewhere in a wrinkle in time my twenty year-old self just shuddered. The very one who would have sworn I’d never, ever get married (and if I did, I’d wear black). And children? Fughetaboudit.
How did I get here? This is not my beautiful life…
I used to think “success” was the only thing that mattered. In my mind, it was a pretty linear deal – work long, hard, smart and go up, up, up as time marches inevitably on.
And then came the moment Will arrived. Time stopped and bent around this new little man. Linear equations suddenly exploded into non-linear chaos.
Today success means stopping work at 5:15 to make dinner and sitting down to eat as a family. It means being there when my six-year old sprints into my office after school with his brand new library book on volcanoes wanting me to read it. Right NOW. And being able to drop everything to do just that. It means being there to celebrate with some wacky Cotton Eyed Joe song when my three year old goes pee pee on the potty for the first time.
It also means making less money and being on a slower track than many of my peers.
What I understand today that I didn’t when I was twenty is that success has nothing at all to do with what you do for a living and everything to do with how you choose to live. It’s complex. Chaotic. Changing. As my children grow, my definition does, and will continue to shift.
Ultimately having children has taught me that the real measure of success is choosing to live in a way that aligns with what matters most to you. In the moments I am able to do that, life is rich indeed.
Thank God we grow up.