40, clinical social worker
married, three kids (ages 5, 7, and 9)
What does “having it all” mean to you? How has this idea changed over the years for you? I’m very relationship-driven so basic human needs aside, having it all to me means having genuine connection with family, friends, work, community, and self with the very important caveat of not expecting to have it all at one time.
Since becoming a mother, I’ve started to realize and accept that the scales are never balanced for long, if at all, and to be okay with that. Realizing limitations and honoring efforts. That’s the goal for me at least. I’d be lying if I said I was always Zen about having it all, but I try.
What’s the hardest thing you had to change about yourself when you became a mom? The hardest thing I had to change about myself when I became a mother was learning how to not lose my sense of self. I’ve wanted to be a mother for as long as I can remember. But, in this role it’s easy to forget about yourself and when you do remember it can sometimes feel selfish or wrong to prioritize your needs above those of your children or partner.
It’s such a cliché, but I have to put the oxygen mask on first so I can be a more patient mother, be more present in my marriage, be a more effective social worker, be a better friend – and last but not least, stay sane.
Where does work/career fit in your life? From the time I first started out in social service until I had my own children, the youth that I served sometimes felt like my children. They were top of mind for me after work and on weekends. They came from the most desperate of situations. They were high risk and I worried a lot about them. Would they stay safe that night or would they self-harm? What is CPS going to do about that referral and what does it mean for that child, that family? This work can really consume you if you don’t find ways to take care of yourself. After having my own children, I had to learn how to tuck away my work at the end of the day for the sake of self-preservation, so I can continue to do what I love and what I feel is important in this world.
Three words that describe me: Shy. Sensitive. Stubborn.
Portrait by Vivian Johnson