I’m a stay-at-home mother (SAHM) of two boys, married to my husband Jonathan since 1994, and living in Mill Valley, California, just north of San Francisco. With an undergraduate degree from Harvard and a law degree from University of California – Hastings, I worked as a big-firm lawyer for one year before becoming in-house counsel and VP of Operations at a small computer software company.
I was part of a team that grew the company from 10 to 75 employees. Eventually we succeeded in selling the company to a much larger software company, where, using my legal and operational background, I worked primarily on integrating the staff and operations of other acquired companies. While I found all of this work to be challenging and fulfilling, it was also, at times, depleting; I lacked the sense that this was the work I was born to do, despite its financial rewards. In 2000, I left the working world to start a family.
Since 2001, I’ve been a SAHM, and I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to focus on raising my children, along with the help of my incredible husband, for whose presence in my life I have been and remain deeply grateful. During this time, I’ve worked outside the home as a very active volunteer in my children’s schools and for a local social agency.
Many people would say I have been living an enviable life, free of the financial pressures that I see so many others struggling with; and while I agree (with gratitude), the life of a SAHM can be difficult, even lonely, at times. Through these years, my children have brought me so much joy and learning, notably the lessons of patience and tolerating a not-so-neat household; but I also encountered the absence of the part of my life that brought me a sense of purpose outside of raising my children. I learned that my needs were far more complex than I had realized, and that in order to be a better mother, partner, etc., I had a lot of work to do on myself. I most definitely did not arrive on the doorstep of partnership or parenthood with a feeling of wholeness, contentment and inner peace.
Many mothers who work outside the home long for the seemingly easier life of the SAHM. Some are constantly exhausted and feel pulled by the demands of both work and home. Time to care for themselves is last on the priority list. And some SAHMs miss the challenge and self-affirmation brought about by having a career and an identity other than “mom.” Time to care for themselves can also be last on the priority list, particularly when their children are babies and toddlers! Each experience brings its own rewards and challenges.
And yet there is definitely something that unifies us all, working or not working outside the home, with children or without: the need for a feeling of wholeness, purpose, peace and joy in our lives. Whichever path we take, this challenge is the same. In living the life of a mom in Marin, I noticed over time the struggle most women face to balance the many roles they play. Without realizing it, I became a casual observer of these challenges and how hard women were working to establish and maintain a sense of wellness in their lives. In fact, I was living that challenge myself.
When I served as Parents’ Association President at my children’s school several years ago, I rediscovered my passion for building community – for working for change and improvement and for ensuring that every member of the community felt seen, valued and welcome. As I reflect on the many roles I’ve had over the course of my life, I now observe that these are the things I most love to do!
In the pursuit of meaning and purpose in my own life, and to walk my own path to wholeness, I now bring you the Mill Valley Book Club. I’m also writing several books, both fiction and non-fiction, which portray the same path to wholeness that I hope all of you can travel. Please see Books in the Works for more information.
I hope that, as a member of the Mill Valley Book Club, you’ll find laughter, companionship, thought-provoking conversation, and joy. Most of all, I hope it will lead you to a greater sense of meaning and purpose in your own life and ultimately further along on your own path to wholeness!