Before children, I was young. I had a lot of energy. I was focused on putting my career experiences in my bank. I had been to school a lot. I have two Master’s degrees and a third undergraduate degree.
We were pretty intentional about having children. I was greatly in love with my husband. We had been married for five years. It felt like that was the right thing to do next. I assumed I would be a working parent, but know what that would look like.
When I was pregnant I was in management consulting and travelling to Mexico City. I was nauseous and working in an office where smoking was the norm. Right around when I said I wasn’t going to go to Mexico City any more I was told that I didn’t have a job any more.
So, things changed a lot right before I had Bennett, and then when Bennett was 2, we had Henry. I was at home for five years before I went back to work.
Before kids, the longest I had had any one job was about 18 months. And here I was, five years in and still a stay-at-home mom. It was the most important job I had ever done, and it still is, but I felt unbalanced. I wanted to go back to work. I felt horrible. Guilty. It seemed unacceptable. I ended up going back part-time. In a sense, I have been able to keep both of my day jobs.
When they’re babies, there are a lot of demands and there’s this need to persevere, to endure. It sounds like hardships, but they’re really just experiences that you get through.
When you have babies who are trying to figure out the world, they like to see the same thing over and over and over and over again. I would read children’s books and think “I’m going to scream if I have to read this book again,” but there were some books that, the more you read them, the more you would notice. Having children forces you to slow down.
I started participating in the Zen Buddhist faith before kids. I learned how to meditate and let thoughts go by without believing them, acting on them or taking them too much to heart.
I feel like I’m definitely more spiritually active than I was 15 years ago. I don’t know whether it’s kids that brought that on or whether it was somewhere I was going to go anyway.
I do feel like my parents raised me in an environment of faith, even though it wasn’t Buddhism. They raised me to believe that there is a reason to be in the world that is higher than what you may be able to see. I think that Presbyterianism and Buddhism, at some point deep down, do match up.
I see my mother very differently. I see how little I thought about what she was going through. I have a lot more respect for everything that she’s done.
The environment of faith that I grew up in was a great gift…. the structure and the stability and the strength. She was and is a good mother.
I see my husband now more so through my son. They’re both very independent-thinking, introverted characters.
How have I changed? I’m more patient [laughs]. I think I’m more patient. I think I’m more understanding of the humanity of everyone, you know? We are all in our own stages of development. When someone is saying something silly or stupid or self-centered then I just think, “Oh well, that’s where you are.” You kind of approach it in the same way as you do if your kid is trying to swim and can’t swim and you have to figure out whether that’s his fault or whether that’s just where he is right now.
When Bennett was about two, my husband would come home and say, “What are we going to say if he asks about God? I would answer, “Well, you know, he’s two and we don’t have to worry about that right now.” I can’t see farther than what’s right in front of my face.
Every day is going to be different. Even if you figure out what’s going to happen today, tomorrow’s going to be different and that’s OK. That’s the only thing you have to worry about. One day at a time.