I had been working as a lawyer for ten years in the biggest and most prestigious law firms in Denmark when I had my second child. Everything was pretty much a picture perfect. We lived in a cosy townhouse in the center of old Copenhagen and were both pursuing our respective careers. It for sure would look very good on Instagram.
However perfect as it seemed, everyday depended on a lot of little factors going exactly as we planned: No sick or unhappy children, no meetings going over time, no delays in traffic, there was no time for extra playdates or any off day or kind of self-care for me or my husband. I believe most families with small children can recognize this scenario. Every day is a gift, but it is also the same and every day is very volatile to things not going exactly as planned. The Danish phrase known as living in the “Hamster Wheel”: running and running to barely make the same routine. Even though we managed life with two careers and two children, I felt that precious moments was flying by, and I was missing out on valuable presence with our children, when they needed it the most. However, even though we had the means making it possible for me to quit my job it was actually a very difficult decision for me.
Looking back on it now, I believe especially two outer perspectives on motherhood drawing me in different directions had me hesitating on my decision to change our lifestyle and quit my job: On the one hand there is prestige in being above the boring and repetitive aspects of being a mother. The waste of your talent and time. Making it crucial to keep your career going so that you don’t become boring and a victim of the structural pressure on women to stay home with the children while the husband is pursuing his career. On the other hand, there are great expectations on the effort it takes to be a good enough mother. If you work and have a career you clearly reduce time with your children and to some extent you may be letting your children down in the most important years of their life.
Both ideals are obviously impossible to fulfil. However banal it may sound you cannot do it all. And the truth is not in any of these perspectives. You must find your way to balance yourself, your children and your love life. The right balance is unique and will always be a compromise. It became clear to me that I was basing a very important decision on how I wanted to live my life and how to do my family on ‘non-relevant peoples’ expectations. I really wanted to spent more time with my children.
I therefore decided to quit my job as a lawyer and stay home with my children and it has been wonderful. I don’t love all aspects of it every day, but it is most definitely the balance that has giving me and my family the most happiness. Had I decided to prioritise my career because it had been more important to me it probably would also have been a very wonderful life. There are so many versions of a good life. You have to live your life on your own truth - and not be affected too much by ‘other peoples’ expectations.
Today I have three wonderful children and I am working as CEO in a real estate investment firm in Copenhagen. Not everything every day is perfect, but we have reached a good balance and we are living a really good life all five of us.
Love Sofie Kandler