My life is mostly like I envisioned it. I’m a world traveler, one-time marathoner (ha!), and entrepreneur. I have a great husband, two adorable kids, and a nice place to rest my head at night. As a family, we’re planning exciting adventures (a year in Thailand), going for our big dreams, and loving the people in our lives.
So, yeah, pretty much how I envisioned it. Except one thing.
I had no idea how hard it was going to be.
Specifically, I had no idea how hard parenting was going to be.
Because here’s the thing. When I’m at work, things are often quite sparkly. I have wins almost daily—whether it’s a meaningful session with a client, a success milestone for the entrepreneurs I coach, or a particularly prolific writing day. Some days are more mundane than others, it’s true, but I still think it’s sparkly because I built my work life. I built this business, I grew my audience, I serve my clients. It’s mine. It’s shiny and pretty and full of wins.
If I’m being totally honest, it’s not always that way at home. Don’t get me wrong. My kids are incredible humans. My husband is a wonderful human, too. A human who makes me from-scratch meals almost every day. I eat dream meals like curry (with homemade naan!), sushi, and veggie tofu stir-fry. He even makes our bread, cashew milk, and more. But I digress.
The thing is that sometimes I have particularly sparkly work days. Like yesterday, for example, when I shared a big project I’ve been working on—a new course for aspiring authors—with some of my close colleagues and friends. I did an interview-style presentation for a conference and delivered great content I know will help a lot of people. I had a fantastic call with one of my favorite people, a client who I consider a great friend.
Then, I came home. Both kids started crying the minute I walked in the door. We had leftovers for dinner (delicious, home-cooked leftovers), and everyone had already eaten, so I ate alone at the table. My daughter began incessantly misbehaving to the point of having to miss our family walk, and then took nearly two hours (and lots of crying) to get to sleep. I missed my run because of this bedtime mess. I felt tired and frustrated.
Home just wasn’t as sparkly.
I wouldn’t trade it, though. Not for anything. While bedtime was overwhelming and I ended up enjoying a beer instead of running, I chose this life. I love my husband. I (literally) made those kids.
Because what’s the point of a shiny, happy work life if I don’t have someone to share it with? (Even if that someone is a four year old who is screaming at me.)
My goal for tomorrow, and the next day, and the next, is to find the sparkle in the everyday mundane. A good friend of mine shared her strategy for parenting: find a detail on your child—her eyelashes, her dimples, her hair—and just look at it. Take in every tiny detail. Be present.
I did that last night. After calming my daughter for the twentieth (no exaggeration) time, I laid in the quiet of her room. She was pretending to go to sleep, and I just looked at the silhouette of her face, at the corners of her mouth threatening to creep up into a smile, at her long lashes extending into the white space in front of her. She was so beautiful. And little. And sad and happy and a mess of emotions I am too old to understand.
Maybe it’s not that home isn’t sparkly. Maybe it’s just that it shines differently, and sometimes you have to look hard to see it.