I’m thrilled to introduce you to my newest work-life contributor here at WorkLifeNation.com, my sister Mary Martin PhD. Mary is an older mom of a 3-year old nugget of a niece whom I adore. Mary is a writer and writing coach who has authored more than 25 books and is taking on more work now that Skylar is growing up. (Isn’t she adorable???)
Mary will be weighing in on the vagaries and beauty at the intersection of motherhood and entrepreneurship.
Woman Becomes Parent, Life Becomes Meaningful
When people hear that I’m a parent and they say “Finally! Aren’t you like: My life now has meaning?” I want to smack them.
Until the tender age of 40, I wasn’t all that interested in being a parent. But that doesn’t mean my life was devoid of meaning. I was busy figuring out what kind of person I wanted to be and how I wanted to live my life. I earned a doctorate; I traveled to faraway places with humanitarian groups; I served on nonprofit boards; I helped start and even close down nonprofits (there’s a fun time); I helped people write several dozen books; and I married my best friend. I became someone whose mission is to tread lightly on Planet Earth and be kind to and speak up for its inhabitants. In my professional life, I enjoyed helping people who do great work find the language to tell the world about that great work.
Becoming a parent adds another layer of meaning, yes. But as precious as my 3-year old daughter is, my life wasn’t meaningless before her. And I wouldn’t want her to think it was. She shouldn’t have to walk through life with the burden of being my meaning. She will find her own meaning, and that’s how it should be.
“Parent” became part of my identity at 43, but it took intention and work to not have it consume the rest of my identity. Now, I know what you’re thinking: Try having four kids and not have parenting consume you! And I’d definitely see your point if you responded in such a way. However, included in my intention was the conscious choice of an only child.
The new layer of meaning my life has comes from the reality that I am one of the two most important examples of how a person should walk through life that my daughter will ever have. She sees how I interact with others, how I react to adversity, what I do when I see that someone is being mistreated or neglected. She sees me stand up for myself as well as others. She notices if I don’t stop to pick up trash and carry it to a garbage can. She comments on my purchasing decisions and wants (and gets) a thorough explanation about why we do not purchase certain items. She sees that I like working as well as working out. She knows I need to meditate.
The pressure, therefore, isn’t on her to be my meaning. It’s on me to be her example. And it took 43 years for me to become a decent example.
Mary Martin, PhD has been writing and editing nonfiction books for 25 years. She lives in South Florida with her husband, their daughter, one retired racing greyhound and one obnoxious cat. Her questionable work life balance is achieved through constant exercise and meditation. She is the less likable of the Martin sisters.