More thoughts on motherhood

2KaGRSMLWdMsW2wrDdWgHPfR6z1mMl7-5_DOwdKoQIWHeEz78oJVKebt2ktS_LiAyBlh=s113Last week Josh went up to visit his sisters for spring fling.  He left on Wednesday night.  Thursday morning I got up at my usual time, 7am and began the day.  I work out Thursday mornings so I got into my workout attire, came downstairs, walked the dog, posted a blog, sat down for breakfast, coffee and the daily read of the NYTimes but something was different. 

It is not as if Josh comes down and has a leisurely breakfast with me but it was that he was not there.  He did not come down to say good morning, take a look at the paper, grab a cup of coffee and have a quick convo about the day ahead.  Instead Fred came down and we had a brief convo about the day and off he went and there I sat.  The silence was deafening. 

I have been thinking about that moment since it happened.  Over the past six years I have slowly rebuilt a new career for myself.  The first angel investment I did closed in June 2007 with Curbed Media.  I made a conscious decision to start down a new path for several reasons.  I looked at where our kids were in their lives and realized that in seven years we would be empty nesters.  The amount of time that I devoted to them from running errands to making dinner took up significant hours.  Those hours were slowly going to be diminished to a very small percentage of my day over the next seven years.  I wanted to start filling that time so when seven years were up I would have my days filled with other things that I enjoy.  I do enjoy building businesses and so the path I chose made perfect sense. 

So what have I been thinking about is that the path I took was to make sure I had balance in my life between fulfilling my own intellectual curiosity yet being available whenever for our kids and family.  It has worked beautifully.  Yet the other morning I thought now I can do whatever I want.  I do not have any intention of stopping what I do from angel investing to the Womens Entrepreneur Festival to blogging but I do not really have to find balance anymore.  I can be completely unbalanced.  Certainly I am lucky to be in that position but last Thursday morning it was a strange realization.  I thought I could just blow off that meeting and go to the art show.  I could just sit on a couch and read a book.  I could jump on a plane and go to Europe for a few days.  I could, I could, I could.  I was letting myself dream big. 

I might have prepared for the year when Josh becomes the last kid to leave the nest (he has one more year left at home) but I am not sure anything prepared me for the thoughts that seemed to ramble around my head.  The good news is that I have not lost that sense of self that I felt seven years ago that I got back six years ago.  Being a mother is one of the most rewarding incredible experiences. Women that are beginning to sit on publicly traded boards or women who are starting their companies or women that are CEOs of major companies or women who change the world through non-profits or women who get involved with their kids schools is personally rewarding yet the part about being a mother is still prominent in our lives no matter what. The feeling of our children leaving the nest and our job being shifted when that person is no longer under your roof is something that hits home for all of us in different ways.  It is beginning to hit me and I am thrilled that we raised our kids with wings to soar from our nest but it is still a very very very strange feeling. 

Comments (Archived):

  1. rachel

    I feel like I’ve gone through it with you and learned the whole way! Hoping I can take your lessons and experiences with myself and my own young kids.

  2. CCjudy

    Do read Anna Quindlen Lots of candles plenty of cake and Then write Your bookJ

    1. Shell McBride

      Agree! I also think it’s time for Joann to write a book!

      1. Alexandra

        I agree with Joanne writing a book! 😉

  3. Susan Rubinsky

    This is such a great topic and so timely. Lots of news and discussions of late about how women and moms work and want to work — from high level executive careers to part time professional employment (still very much a fantasy for many women unless you create it yourself) to stay at home.Personally, I chose what I call the “underachiever by choice” path so that I could run a consulting business from home while raising my son as a single mom. He’s 16 now and I have two more years before he leaves home for college. I love those weekends when he’s at his Dad’s and not here and I can do whatever I want. The possibilities are endless.

  4. JLM

    .The wings that carry the tykes away also carry them back. They are not gone, they are gone exploring. They will be back and that’s not a bad thing because they come back all grown up and house broken.The English send their children to boarding school when they are about 8-10 years old. The consider the “empty nest” to be the norm not the exception.I would never have agreed to that but it is a thought.Now if only I could get rid of the Lab and the Shih Tzu?JLM.

    1. LE

      “they come back all grown up and house broken”A great way to put it.I was a day student at a boarding school. Many of the parents sent their kids away so they could have a life of their own or for career reasons (children of diplomats as an example). The kids got to mix with people from all over not just from wherever they grew up. (One of my classmates was the son of a reasonably famous actor who sent his kid away because he traveled so much.)

    2. Gotham Gal

      Trust me we have the dog too

  5. LE

    Great post. What you did and the fact that you thought about this back when you did is really smart. I’ve noted over time how many people haven’t. Not something that is taught in school.In NE Philly there is a neighborhood called Oxford Circle.Row houses, jewish (back in the day) where parents worked hard and raised their kids to be doctors, lawyers or business people.You see the parents of these professionals who are older now living these vacuous lives literally waddling along the avenue (they have all these old age medical problems) with nothing to do rotting away mentally and physically. Money is not the issue (they were frugal for the most part this group).For the women of course this mental and physical decline started as soon as the kids left high school. The men a little later. Note to women don’t ignore your own needs and make the kids everything that’s a really bad idea for both of you.To me though there is no way someone could have worked as hard as you did and still enjoy doing the things you mentioned in paragraph 4 (such as “I could jump on a plane and go to Europe for a few days.”) more than a small portion of your time “a few days” as you have noted. You wouldn’t find it fun to not be a doer.Even when I go down the shore I get off the beach and go to starbucks and check emails. Not because I have to but because it just feels right to me and makes the time on the beach more enjoyable.

  6. BB

    great post!

  7. kirklove

    Morning coffee in Paris always tastes better. My vote is for the plane.

  8. ellen

    hope for peace because you never know what surprises come up and the plans go awry.

  9. Steven Kane

    “I do not really have to find balance anymore. I can be completely unbalanced.” Working on same!

    1. Gotham Gal

      It is an amazing realization.

  10. TanyaMonteiro

    great post, your parenting/guiding still keep growing with the new path you’ve chosen. your honesty rocks Joanne

  11. bsoist

    I know there is something about being a mom that makes this so much more nuanced, but seeing Billy off to Manhattan two days after his 18th birthday ( a day late because of Irene :), was an experience I’ll never forget as his dad. Becky starts high school next year, so we have a few more years before the empty nest, but that first step toward it smacked me in the face pretty hard.good news – Billy flies to LA tomorrow to help a friend drive a car back East, and then he’ll spend 6 weeks or so with us. I really am learning to enjoy the different relationship we have now.

    1. Gotham Gal

      and the relationship will continue to change.

  12. Kylie Sachs

    what a wonderful post. my kids are still young and my career is thriving and busy – but this post ironically was a nice reminder to be in the moment of home or work – it all goes so fast. The other highlight for me in this was what a great opportunity (and lesson) for society – to have women like you working seven years in advance to build up to the day of near total freedom. I hope you don’t feel too much pressure now with this time – you’re already making such an incredible mark on the world with this dialogue.

    1. Gotham Gal

      zero pressure

  13. whitneyjohnson

    I really enjoyed this post Joanne! Thank you.

    1. Gotham Gal

      thanks whitney

  14. Lisa Abeyta

    Several years ago when i was working as a freelance writer, i was on assignment to do a writeup on a local home tour when I ran into an acquaintance whose last child had just moved away. I asked how she was doing, and right there in a master bedroom filled with people on the tour, she unleashed a torrent of tears and angst about how she was lost and didn’t know what to do with herself. She told me she’d spent her entire life focused in her children and now that they didn’t need her anymore, she didn’t know who she was. It scared me to death.I have not a single regret for the years I spent as a stay-at-home mom; I loved the foundation I built with my children and how simple our lives were with me home. But I found ways to expand who I was. And when two of my three kids were in college, I was more than ready to commit the time to starting my own company.And I’ve learned you don’t stop being a mom just because your kids move out. The role changes, but I’m liking this new part of the journey – discovering who my kids are as adults.

    1. Gotham Gal

      You are so right. At an event this weekend someone asked where are your kids. I said I don’t have kids, I have young adults

  15. Shell McBride

    This resonates with me too. I’ve raised two independent sons who have graduated from college and are in their 20’s. Sometimes it still surprises me to wake in the morning and realize that my whole day is MINE to do what I’d like with. I am no longer responsible for anyone (except the needy Italian Greyhound!). Thankfully, like you, about 10 years ago I started my own business that provides intellectual stimulation yet doesn’t require daily attention. I’m glad that I now have it, as well as projects and hobbies, friends to spend time with, and travel with my husband to add variety. I remind myself: this is what I worked toward, so ENJOY the freedom. It does feel weird, but it’s the second chapter and full of possibilities too.