October 03, 2007



beautifully written, as always. I hear you, I don't have any answers for you, but I do hear you.

Thank you for sharing.

lisa s

your words always ring true and you couldn't have picked a better anthem.

hugs to you friend.


I think it is because part of our DNA is running around separate from us. A process that begins with conception and ends when we leave this plane. It's definitely a one-way street though, as it seems to affect the mother and not the child.

Such an inspiration you are with the honesty of your words.


It's a hard place to be, where you are right now. Architecture will always be something you can come back to. I think it's a great profession for a woman because you can work at all different levels and still achieve heaps without being so torn. With a husband who is an architect I know the level of commitment that is demanded to get a project, firstly up and running, designed then built. A big ask when there are so many other demands in your life. But I speak as one from a different era.
I know my words,compared to your fluent thoughts,sound so clumsy, but I feel for you.There will be an answer,and you will find it.


My favourites, thought they may help.

Your vision will become clear,
only when you can look into your
own heart.
Who looks outside, dreams;
who looks inside, awakes.
(Carl G Jung)

The price of anything is the amount of life
you exchange for it.
(Henry David Thoreau)

Things do not change,
we change
(Henry David Thoreau)


Hi Alison -
I've been reading, but haven't said anything for quite a while. I identify with this. The juggle between self and mother, architect and mother; I always found it impossible to switch off and devote myself to the other. They do overlap. Neither is a job which lends itself to switching off - there are always details, problems, sitting in the back of one's mind. I sometimes think I'm not the best of mothers, because I don't devote myself totally to my children, and that I didn't do justice to family or work. I eventually discovered that I need to work to be me, to regain myself - just not architecture. What I do now is still creative, and I still use the architecture sometimes, but it's more flexible. Mind you, it took me 10 years to find this niche. You, too, will find what works for all of you, eventually. Patience.


I have no advice, but feel the same way.


It's my 8th year into a doctoral program. I often feel like a fraud -- each time I sit down to write. I make my family poor (no income here) and exhausted. I have two young sons, two years apart. Identity can be a precarious balance and our inner voice is often the biggest problem. I practice breathing, silence my critic, and try to be true to what I am engaged in at the present moment. And if it all becomes too much, then things will shift yet again. Good luck.


mmmmmm, reading that is such an affirmation to what strength women possess. thank you for sharing your struggles with other mamas...there is so many layers to it all.


oh -I'm so sorry you're struggling. No answers of course, but I understand, no doubt. Architecture is all consuming and so complex. There is definitely no shutting it off.
Time will help, definitely. You need time to get back into a rhythm that will allow both.
Thinking of you -

Alice C

Children absorb so much creative energy. Will it comfort you to know that NOW, when they are so young it is the most demanding time? It does get better and gradually you will rediscover the pleasure of a life outside the home. If you know that perhaps it will help deal with the NOW.


What can I say? I'm still expecting my first, so I can't say "I'm with you." I will say, "I hear you" and "I fear this also" and I can tell you what I tell myself. Things about how long they're little - I think sometimes it will feel like forever (for example, I can't imagine how many years I'll be dealing with diapers!), but in the grand scheme of life so far, the few years that they're very small aren't really so many. And also that people change and that balances change and that they will change again. And that being a real person who has some life outside of taking care of children is also good and important not only for yourself, but also because it's important for the children to have a real whole person with other interests taking care of them. They can be the center of the universe (at least for awhile), but they shouldn't always be the ONLY thing in the universe. But I think you shouldn't let your need and your children's need to be together make you crazy about how it should be otherwise. It's so great that you see it, that you know what's up. It will be hard to change, hard to reconfigure and find something that works better, but at least you're looking at it, and you know at least in some ways, what you're looking at and what you need.

GOOD LUCK. Hang in there. I'll be thinking of you. And trying to tell myself all this as I leave work (temporarily?) soon.


I want to leave a comment, to let you know that I read your post and it made me cry a bit. You have articulated the struggle we all feel, expect sans children I probably have it fairly easy. The corporate world nearly destroyed my soul and I'm so glad I'm out of it and off the career track. The link between projects and state of mind is an interesting one I hadn't really explored, but I think you are right. Once again, I find you speak the things we dare not acknowledge.


walk in silence. don't walk away in silence. thanks alison, i need these words today. good post.


Oh Alison......this is so sad. Well written and touching, but it made me a little misty.

btw, I'm sorry I've been away so long, we bought a house and I've been consumed by it (as any Architect would be.....lol...).

I can not say I "feel" what you are going through, as I do not have children of my own. But I can share that my sister called me EVERY DAY while sitting in traffic on Lake Shore Drive trying to frantically get home to her children after work. She had an amazing (and amazingly expensive) nanny, and that gave her some peace for a while. My sis was a very high-powered executive producer for a large company in Chicago. On top of getting paid oodles of cash, it was also a very creative "mtv", loads of extras, loads of benefits, loads of perks type career. (I can tell you, as an architect, my jaw dropped when she told me about the things her office paid for, gave her, paid her....). She had the world at her finger tips is what I'm trying to say.....and none of it mattered because at the end of the day, she was sitting in traffic, staring at Lake Michigan, crying on the phone to me that someone else was raising her children. For 2 years she struggled with this and it tore her apart. For the first 18 months, I tried to encourage her and support her career goals. We tried to think of ideas. Reduced hours, part-time......and still she was sick to her stomach. When baby #2 came, I knew it was not going to work. I've never known anyone that so fully rejoiced in raising her children. Seeing my sister with her children makes me cry (ok, now I'm crying just typing that....and thinking about it) because it is THAT BEAUTIFUL. When I see her with her children, and what a great Mom she is, it makes me pause and reflect on life. It's one of the things in life that makes me stand back in awe (this is my 'black sheep' sis, who got straight 'C' grades and partied and yet always landed on her feet. The sister that always envied me and my over-achieving ways.....).So, I went from supporting her career and ambition to comforting her and cushioning the landing she would make once she gave her notice and realized what was "right" for her and her family.
I just think it is really hard - dare I say traumatic- for women raised to think "you can do anything", who go to college, get the degrees, do the time and then realize, hey wait - 'I love the act of raising my children and I want to do it full time'. I just think we are under a lot of pressure to 'do it all'. And some women NEED to do it all, but I just think it's hard in this day-and-age to say "I'm a HOMEMAKER". Like it's a bad word or something!!??
I guess my rambling is just to say I support you 100%. Keep in mind, we are lucky to be in a creative career area and our training allows us to sometimes make our own path. It's good, because it's our own but it's also hard because there's not always a "template" to follow.

If becoming a homemaker is right, and if you can figure out a way to swing it financially, I say go for it and celebrate it! I know it's a stretch for most people, and I remind my sister every day of her good fortune (I know that since I married an Architect, I could never swing a single-income household...lol.....) but it's worth it. They had to make a "big" adjustment to their lifestyle and spending at first, but they have acclimated beautifully. My sister even started her own, small, indie children's clothing company *wink wink, nudge nudge*.

You can do it Alison. And until you truly know what is right for you and your family, you can dig down and find the strength to work through it. And lord knows, what you find you will share here and everyone who reads this blog will learn and grow from your experience.

((hugs)) to you......big hugs!


OMG, Sorry!!! Sorry for the ridiculously long comment.....geez....guess I've been bottled up over here!!??


I've been thinking a lot about this in recent times. Not least because as my partner's work life becomes more problematic I think there may be a time when I have no choice but to take up a much more dominant working role. But also because of all the other reasons - about wanting that other life, about wanting to be more than just one person with one role.

I've been getting a lot of comfort from the pages I've managed to snatch from Buddhism for Mothers by Sarah Napthali. In particular about being truly present in the moment. I'm not pushing Buddhism at all (and I don't think the book does either) but I found the book really spoke to me about my chattering mind and how much I allow it to rob me of my peace. Whatever it is I am doing I want to be here for it, and while the overlap will always been here somewhere, I am actually enjoying the process of reigning that in a bit.

I hope other constraints free up and let you do what you really want to do soon. Thinking of you. xxx


Don't tear yourself apart.
Choose what you love most.


Dish Pig the Uber Geek is into week 4 of 90hr weeks. We are down to our last $30 for the next 8 days, I'm supposed to be sewing as much as I can to earn some cash by selling clothes and I'm stuck solid with fear. I've been looking at the garments so long I'm worried they are boring and weird.

Everything we are doing feels so half-arsed. We can't work properly cause we are so tired, the kids are ratty cause we are ratty, by the time the weekend comes we don't want to clean house/wash clothes, we want to hang with the kids.
We have no money to pay someone else to clean house/wash clothes.

How can you find balance in all that?

how do we even find the time to consider how to find balance?
is it possible, as a breastfeeding uber exhausted mother of 3, to eat too much chocolate?


I too feel your struggle. My husband has recently left us as he says he needs space and I too am hating the job I used to enjoy and crying when I drop my son to daycare. People keep sayng that I've got to find time for myself and do things for me - I guess reading this is one of my guilty pleasures along with the 15min of craft I do before I collapse at night. I read this and I realise that I'm not alone in my thoughts. I'm hoping that one day I'll find that time just for me - as my mum says " this will pass and life does get better". I too am impatient - I just want as all to be happy. I'm glad you've made plans - keep to them as there is nothing that eats you up more than regret. Thanks


resonating right there with you



my dear a... your words resonating so much... that sense of being split off, not able to be fully present in each area of life... i wish i had the words to leave here, but reaching towards you with a silent hug instead, and a long-long-long-delayed email tonight. xoxo

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