I completed my MBA a few weeks back. I am incredibly excited, grateful, somewhat relieved that I have a new life with some “extra??” time in it. Sometimes, it feels surreal to not plan my weekends around homework after having done that for almost 5 years excluding a few breaks when I had my kids. Sometimes, I truly wonder how exactly did I fit it all in my life while still feeling fairly good in most ways that matter, meaning I wasn’t chronically stressed or overwhelmed every minute of my day. After having kids, I often questioned if I should continue or give up as my career aspirations changed significantly as what got me to go to school in the first place had shifted in my life. Yet, every few months, my husband and I would evaluate if I should complete my degree or quit and we hesitantly landed that this would be the right choice for us and that he’d support me to get to the end.
I feel blessed to have had lots of love and support both through this journey and at the finish line. Graduation notes often said very thoughtful things and some called me a superwoman or asked how I did it all. I felt honored and grateful to hear this, to be loved and care for so deeply. Yet in many ways, this didn’t feel right. I felt as if I had created this perfect picture of my life, in some ways that were too focused on the bright side and that wasn’t really true.
One – I truly don’t think it’s about me. Yes, I did a lot of the work but truly, truly couldn’t have done this without the support of many, many people whom I have written about here but most importantly my husband who literally had to take primary responsibility for the kids when I was away for classes or doing homework.
Second – I truly am no superwoman or did it all. Yes, I feel very grateful for what I have accomplished but there were lots and lots of things I didn’t do. There were significant trade-offs that I had to make every quarter, every month and then more literally every single day. For example, my house is almost ALWAYS in a chronic mess. There are toys all over the house, a huge pile of unfolded laundry that magically appears at all times and the kitchen always has food and dirty dishes lying around. Most days, the kids don’t see me in the morning and I very rarely get to sit on the couch and watch Netflix with my husband once the kids are in bed because I sleep when the kids sleep. Weeknight dinners are often interrupted many times and some days all I can eat is a glass of smoothie for dinner once the kids are fed. There are times when my marriage has felt tough and I always recollect the words of a friend with young children who once commiserated – “I feel like we are roommates raising a child.” I too have had a fair share of those emotions. I put a lot of my many dreams on hold as I knew I couldn’t do justice to them. I also often especially toward the tail end of the program did the bare minimum to get through the class. I don’t remember much about stock options trading, price elasticity or supply & demand frameworks. I didn’t have enough headspace to process all the information coming my way. My biggest trade off was giving up many, many weekends where I too wanted to be at the park, at the zoo and the museum with Sumit and the kids or just cuddle with them on a Saturday morning in bed where I was instead in class or at a coffee shop finishing up homework.
Through these last few years, fitting in school into an already full schedule especially after the kids was perhaps the best hands on education on the real meaning of values and priorities. I said yes to some things and no to others and both came with consequences, the good and the not so good. I had to constantly think about how much was good enough? What else did I need besides the essentials to thrive and how could I prioritize joy in my everyday life. What was important all throughout was being intentional about what was truly important to me as a human, as a mother and then for us as a family and what were we willing to give up in our lives. And then even more important was compassion for myself when I couldn’t act in alignment with my values, the struggles and confusion of what should I say yes to vs not. Some were easy choices but some were much, much harder.
As I sit on my couch on an early Sunday morning while the rest of the boys lay asleep, I feel the warmth of the sun on my face and sound of the birds chirping fill up my heart. As I get to the end of this post, I tell myself, I have just enough time. Actually no, I’ll gladly take a few more hours in a day that I don’t have to share with anyone but just me, my journal and my computer to type but since that’s not happening, I will repeat and tell myself – “I have just enough time in my life and what matters is how I fill it up and how I choose to spend it.”
P.S. – I am incredibly grateful to Laura Vanderkam for helping me rethink my relationship with time. Her Ted Talk, book and a few articles here and here are my favorites!
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