Rants and Wisdom
Having it all??
Not. At least for me.
I vary between amazement/awe and total disbelief in those who say it exists. I also beat myself up that I have not done “just little more”. Could I have fit in just a bit more volunteer or advocacy time? Should I have worked for big “NAME” firms doing “IMPORTANT” architecture? Sigh, perhaps.
However, I do know that through the 38 years since I received my diploma, I have done all that I could. At the end of the day, I have been married for 36 years, raised two wonderful and independant sons, and weathered a major life changing medical diagnosis with my youngest. And somehow, somehow, I have kept my business open, practiced my profession diligently and with care towards both employees and clients, and given jobs and experience to many young women. I have many clients that I consider friends and many, many finished projects. I still paint and sketch, and try to run or swim every day.
However, I never, ever pat myself on my back. Perhaps that is the biggest part of #havingitall that I have yet to find.
This is my ‘Secret Sauce’ recipe followed by my ‘Every Day Moments of Truth’:
Secret Sauce ingredients:
- A strong woman architect mentor. (Thanks Dell!)
- A supportive family and/or spouse. (Thanks guys!)
- Great child care (Thanks Dee!)
- A flexible schedule and attitude.
- Passion for what you do.
- And the last, my super secret, all-powerful ingredient: Living, working and having my kids go to school in one zip code.
My everyday moments of truth:
- My professional life is rewarding. The rewards come from the design work, the finished projects, the sketching, the watercolors, the interactions with my clients and colleagues.
- It is also challenging and frustrating and exhausting and sometimes NO FUN. Especially when I find myself spending as much time-or more running the business end. Proposals, financials, insurance, hiring, firing (ugh!) and MBE/WBE certifications.
- I find time to do something for myself every day. Swim, run, paint, play music. There IS time. For me it is an early swim or run, before work. Luckily my husband and I switched off early/late schedules when the boys were young. I think that we only forgot to pick up our sons at swim practice once…Sorry about that guys.
- Understand how to “Declare it done”—not finished, just done. It will save your sanity.
- Always “Follow Up Beyond Belief.” It will save your reputation.
- Do not work a lot of overtime. Ever. Get your work done and go home.
- It is not going to be perfect. In either the child raising or working categories. Give yourself a break. And this coming from a type A++person is really hard to do. I still sometimes beat myself up. Just throw in a child’s major illness/surgery or special needs into the mix and then you will truly find out what you are made of.
- Don’t throw anyone under the bus. If you accidentally do, apologize.
- Thank, thank, and thank again those that help you. It does take a village.
- My two grown sons have become wonderful men in their own right with their own careers. They have seen their mom’s work and they have always been proud of me, even when I think I have let them down with unnecessary impatience or expectations. I, of course, see thousands of things that I could have done better. But that’s OK, my family and my firm are still here and getting stronger.
- Show young professional women that they can do it. Don’t give up.