Thursday, August 23, 2012

A different perspective on "having it all"

The scope of my blog is evolving.  I am evolving.  Everyone is (hopefully) evolving in at least some small way.  The primary focus remains on career change to nursing (second year starts up in a few short weeks!).  But changing careers, choosing to change careers to a completely new field, does not happen in a vacuum.

There are so many other factors involved in making the decision to leave a stable, successful career. There are so many considerations to think about, so many scenarios to imagine (good and scary!), and so many people who could be affected by such a change.  A change of this magnitude most certainly does not happen in a vacuum!

And this is why I need to branch out in my writing, to include these other considerations.  I have recently been reading several blogs I find to be very inspirational, for different reasons.  Hands Free Mama focuses on the importance of being present and not distracted by our BlackBerry when being a parent.  Smile With Your Heart (I hope the author starts writing again soon!!!), is very inspirational about healthy living, fitness, and community involvement.  Plus there is the bonus factor that the author is a nurse, and it shows me all the various volunteer  and travel opportunities nursing provides.  I am energized, motivated and simply feel better when I read these blogs.  (Links to both are in my blog's sidebar, and I hope to add more in the future.)

That is why I realized I need to evolve my blog, and include more positive, encouraging messages in my writing too. 

Ever since I became a mom, work/life balance has been at the forefront of my mind. I think being a nurse will definitely help improve this quest to gain balance, particularly if I end up working part-time (and picking up the odd extra shifts).

However, the mythical work-life balance dilemma is very much a reality in our society.  And I am certain it will continue to be a significant factor in our life, even with the career change.  As the children get older, their needs change and our roles adapt to their changing needs.  But the limited amount of time we have together does not change. 

The article I've chosen to highlight, represents a completely different perspective about priorities and what is truly 'important' in life. 

The author summed up this perspective beautifully, in the following sentence:
"We are chasing the wrong things, asking ourselves the wrong questions. It is not, "Can we have it all?" -- with "all" being some kind of undefined marker that shall forever be moved upwards out of reach just a little bit with each new blessing. We should ask instead, "Do we have enough?"

I hope you enjoy the article, and thinking about a different spin on what it means to have it all.

It made me realize I truly 'have it all', a million times over.  I have more than enough. I have so much I need to reach out and share with others. 

And I am, and always have been, regardless of my situation and station in life, extremely grateful.

Future Nurse Kate


What My Son's Disabilities Taught Me About 'Having It All'

Because of her child's problems, the author will never have a tidy, peaceful life. But none of this keeps her from being happy -- as long as she asks herself the right questions.
marie-son.jpgThe author on a walk with her son (Photo by Karl H. Jacoby)

Women in the Workplace Debate bug
A debate on career and family See full coverage
As someone in her 40s, unequivocally in middle age, I find myself and my friends in that stage of life that seems to auger constant assessment -- am I happy? Am I doing the right thing with my life?
Evidenced by the number of times Anne-Marie Slaughter's Atlantic piece "Why Women Still Can't Have It All" was posted on Facebook, it served as a cri de coeur of the collective unconscious of those of us swimming in the Gen X/Baby Boomer estuary, last stop before becoming truly elderly. (It's apparently also the most-read article in the magazine's 155-year history.) Slaughter rightly questions why having a family complicates the career ladder for women in a way that it does not for men. But the hidden heart of the article, I believe, is its hinting at that unspoken yearning for that perfect life that has been promised to us by ... someone? Ads? TV? Ms. Magazine? Those ATHLETA catalogs?

Let me compare and contrast that with a typical incident that happened just last week in my own 40-something working mother life. My husband and I were sitting in the office of a neuropsychologist who had just run an assessment on our 12-year-old son who has a variety of disabilities and medical problems.
While our friends worry about middle schools, we bring our son to the ER to get stitches after he puts his head through a window.
"You know cognitively, he's functioning at the bottom 1 percent of children his age," he said.

I nodded.

"That means 99 percent of children are doing better than he is."

I nodded again. (Yes, I can do the math.)

He waited, seemingly perplexed. "Having seen what I saw, and of course you have to be with your son all the time -- I have to ask you, how do you have the patience?"

I looked at him. He's my son. It was so obvious, I did not say it.

"I mean, really. How do you do it?" He looked to my husband, who gave him the same look. He tried a different tack: "Well, with all this stress, how are you two doing?"

"Fine," we said, and meant it. He handed us the thick report, still shaking his head.

This is, sadly, a very typical exchange, not just with the experts in our lives, but even close friends: How do we stand our hellish life with a child who functions at 1 percent and starts to bite and hit when he is in situations he doesn't understand -- often, multiple times a day? Once, watching our son having a hard time, a friend even blurted, "I'm so glad this didn't happen to us!"

While our friends worry about the quality of middle schools, our parental duties include bringing our son to the ER to get stitches after he puts his head through a window, then arranging for a window replacement and for a special treatment for all the glass in our house so it won't shatter -- at a pretty penny. Other friends declare, "I couldn't do what you do." If I am to conform to their expectations, I'm not sure what I am supposed to do: Beat my son? Kill myself? (Sadly, parents with kids like my son have done exactly that.)

Maybe it's my Buddhist outlook, but I'm not consumed with worry and frenzy and despair like I'm "supposed" to be. I don't enjoy that my 12-year-old son is still in diapers and sometimes purposely makes a mess in the bathroom. Or that he dumped his Thanksgiving dinner on my sister-in-law's pregnant belly. Or that he screams in the parking lot of Whole Foods until people call the cops on us. On the other hand, he is my son, and he is what I have. And he has a nice smile.

To read the entire article, please click here:


  1. Thanks for linking to my blog! You're the first to do so. I look forward to reading about your journey.

    1. Hey Steve! Thanks for your comment. I look forward to reading more about your nursing school journey, too. What a path we're on, eh?