Once upon a time, I was a corporate lawyer in Silicon Valley during the dot-com craze. I worked incredibly long hours, pulled many an all-nighter, and constantly worried I was committing malpractice.
I shared an 800-square-foot apartment with my husband-to-be. It was a place to sleep and watch TV together when we were not at work. I ate most meals at the office cafeteria. I worked and spent my free time with my husband. There wasn't much else.
My life is better now--fuller. I have a family I love, a house that is a home, hobbies, and friends with whom I share more than an advanced degree. I haven't had a job in more than nine years. I have no complaints, yet I realize that I took the simplicity of my old life for granted.
Before kids, I devoted my attention to work and my husband, with occasional breaks to water the houseplants. My calendar contained only conference calls, meetings, and flights. When I did fly, I packed a briefcase, a roller bag, and--if I was feeling optimistic--a novel for the flight. It wasn't much of a life, but it was simple.
My fuller life came with a longer to-do list. My house is much bigger than 800 square feet and requires maintenance and improvements. It is our home, and I try to make the house and yard the best they can be while doing most of the work myself.
My calendar is now color-coded for four people, two of whom do not drive and often need to be in different places at the same time. When I travel, I require a heck of a lot more than a briefcase, and I only get to read a novel if the kids are dazed in front of the DVD player.
When the kids are at school, I do not sit around eating bonbons. I exercise, run errands, cook food, do laundry, clean the house, tend the yard, and see that everyone else in the family has what they need and gets where they need to go. I make a lot of lists. I also try to set aside some time for things that I enjoy, like photography, writing, or reading. I have found that I'm a happier and better person when I do.
It's a great life, and I'm incredibly fortunate to have it. It, however, is not simple. Something always needs tending. When I look back on my younger, child-free life, it looks a little sad in its emptiness and singular focus on work. I wouldn't trade my current life for that one, but I do miss its simplicity.
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