Friday, February 28, 2014

The size of my network did matter...and then it didn't

It's no big secret that we are a non-traditional family with 4 kids.

Four years ago I was a single working mom with four children, divorce proceedings, and general chaos. Today, committed to an amazing man, I am a stay at home mom who happens to work (from home) occasionally. My Spousal Equivalent, also works from home so our kids essentially have two stay at home parents when they aren't on their dad's time (10 days a month). I professionally lend support and expertise to my spouse's media & production company. And through my own company I help families, like ours, navigate their financial frustrations. You could say that I'm a financial therapist. While I can (and do) sell many financial products, therapy and education are where I spend my focus.

A series of unfortunate events in the last two years led me to stay at home. A choice not without significant sacrifices and ramifications. The most significant being the sense of loss at giving up a career (and income) that I loved, to be home with my babies. It would be lying to say that I wasn't conflicted. My children hold my heart every moment of every day, even the crappy, trying, frustrating, I-feel-like-a-hideous-failure and oh-my-god-I-am-ruining-them moments. They can break me in a word or a gesture and they know it. But I had built my identity not in being just their mother, but in who I was professionally. In some situations, the size of your network DOES matter, and I had a big one. I had led myself to believe I could have it all, and I did. We traveled, didn't worry about finances, and best of all I loved what I was doing.

Then came the moment when I sat with our family doctor, and a short test for one of our kids led to a significant diagnosis, and catapulted me to a pivotal decision. Suddenly networks seemed stupid. Pay cheques, while helpful and convenient, not quite as important as before. I looked into my baby's eyes and I knew what I needed to do.

Like I say, I was conflicted, and there was doubt, but this is not to say that I regret the choice. I don't and I haven't. Not for a single second since the decision was made. Sacrifice is a funny thing, when you do it for money it is a chore, but for love it doesn't seem quite so monumental to me.

So instead of managing an office, I manage a house hold. I still have a large network, maybe not as big, but those that matter 'get it' and those that don't dropped away. I'm ok with that. Same circus, different clowns. MY clowns.

I've had many advents of my life, and a theme has repeated itself--advice given to me 11 years ago, when pregnant with my 3rd child--"I somehow don't think I'll ever look back and say 'gee, I sure wish I would have worked more!', I doubt you'll say that either."