On Parenthood, Profession & Purpose
priorities place passion power potential possibilities ... PEACE
These are all things I’ve pondered and wrestled with this past year as our family made a major life transition, an interstate move. Not unlike for many parents, round-the-clock thinking, planning and working to juggle, balance, integrate it has consumed me.
Though I left NYC begrudgingly 17 years ago, the Second City certainly became home and the only one our children knew. It’s been a whirlwind year of closing out life in one city, moving, settling in and setting up shop in another … getting to know a new school, unpacking/making a home, finding new doctors, unearthing activities, transferring files, investing in new friendships, seeking community, rediscovering family life, redefining fulfilling work.
Work. The word that came to mean so much for me this past year. It’s all work, but as they say love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life. I have been lucky to absolutely love my work. So, starting over here has been a real challenge. Rebuilding family life is one thing, but to do it with ideals of what work should look like now simultaneously – I underestimated the not only physical, but emotional and mental toll it would bring.
In some ways, though this was once "home," I feel it's been tougher on me than anticipated. My kids have school and activities to fall into, my husband had been working here for a few years before we moved. I decided to launch a nonprofit & philanthropic advising/consulting practice while grounding everyone else and myself in our new life. It’s been daunting, draining, confusing, and exhilarating at times and at the same time. But, it’s also allowed me more time and space, time and space that I used to judge, that I used to run from, that I now see as necessary.
I don’t want to choose work over family or even have to make mini-choices right now. I’m grateful for friends and family that have helped me get to this decision -- self and family are going to be my priorities for now. That means getting comfortable with this next cycle of slowing down and showing up in new ways. I think I’m ready to step back from always leaning in and push sideways to realize new possibilities!
I am reminding myself to take this slowness as a welcome break, a sabbatical, a retreat I owe myself… time to re-envision my purpose. I have been able to restart yoga, meditation and a workout routine and be there for my kids in a way I couldn't have imagined before and discovering ways I think they need more differently.
Especially during this month of love and heart health awareness, at long last I recognize the importance of making time for self-love and self-health (mind, body, soul, and spirit) a consistent priority. As a parent, we often put ourselves last, and I am the first to declare it’s not easy to carve out time for this but it’s not sustainable to not do so. Women often serve as the gatekeepers to their family’s health – you have a healthy mother, you will have healthy children, a healthy family, and a healthy community.
So, purpose... It’s what I’m exploring now. My purpose journey has taken me from profession to parenthood to now some beautiful combination of both with passion, priorities, possibilities and peace taking center stage. And I now know it will always include both, just perhaps not with the same intensity at the same moment.
When I became a mom 13 years ago, I was working long hours in public relations. I knew when I began to see my daughter’s face through my tears looking in the restroom mirror at work, I couldn’t do it any longer. I had worked hard to get where I was, building a network in a new city where I knew less than a handful of folks in my area of interest. But it wasn’t working as it was supposed. I needed to be home more, to see my daughter’s smile live. It wasn’t enough to be running out when she was asleep and feeding her in the dark at night. I took a break and began working part-time, so I could spend some precious time with my little one. It was a sense of greater purpose that led me to take that first step back. But one door closes, another opens. Soon enough, I discovered more balance and I found my dream job.
Becoming a mother has deepened and expanded my sense of purpose -- to self, my children and my immediate family but also to others and for the greater good. To think, we as parents and professionals working with the next generation are deeply engaged in and have the power to influence our future – it’s an incredible honor and privilege. One that deserves the truest sense of purpose, fresh and whole, true and full.
My motto has shifted a bit from “Good better best... never let it rest til your good is better and your better is best” to include “The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for.” And as I begin the next phase of my purpose journey, I’m not settling for nothing. “The days go slow, and the years go fast.” If you pause to recall the passion, remember your priorities and envision the possibilities you might just get to catch them all with purpose.
ALLOW YOUR PASSION TO BECOME YOUR PURPOSE, AND IT WILL ONE DAY BECOME YOUR PROFESSION. That’s indeed been true for me.
Sharmila is a mom, partner, daughter, sister, friend and nonprofit/philanthropic advisor, coach, mentor and writer. She believes in taking purpose and passion to the next level, that the possibility and power to give time, talent, treasure and ties lies in everyone everywhere. She prioritizes learning and doing together, building community, leadership development and resourcing folks to help all access a better quality of life and peaceful balance while pursuing dreams and innovative ideas to create something positive for our future generations.