Balance

Parenthood is all about balance: enough fresh produce to outweigh the chicken nuggets, enough activity to counteract the episodes of Doc McStuffins, enough good mommy moments to blur the bad mommy moments. Balancing time is, perhaps, the most challenging balancing act. It’s an ever-changing scale and fraught with imperfections.

To balance “you” time with couple time, one-on-one child time, family time, socializing time, household duties time, extended family time — the list goes on — is a juggling act that’s bound to falter. If you throw work into the mix, it gets incredibly complex.

Four months after having #1, I returned to my corporate job but as a part-time employee. “What a perfect arrangement!” “You’re so lucky to have such a great balance!” People would say upon hearing of my work situation. It was good… but it wasn’t as perfect as it seemed.

Instead of being fully stay-at-home mom or entirely full-time employee, I existed somewhere in the middle with both home and work lives pulling me to give more. I felt as if I was half-ass’ing both sets of responsibilities. I couldn’t prioritize work without falling through on parenting and home duties, and giving more of myself at home meant scaling back at work. The one item missing in this work verses home balance: me. I was so harried trying to simultaneously be both working mother and stay-at-home mother that I had left “me” time out of the equation entirely… and couple time was nonexistent.

After having #2, and still working part-time, the only “me” time I had was when I was pumping breast milk for my son and eventually for donation. Then, a few significant corporate reorganizations presented me with the opportunity to adjust my hours. I cut back to 15 hours per week instead of 20 hours. That worked for a bit, until work expectations rose to the level of a 20-hour workweek despite my abbreviated schedule.

When I became pregnant with #3, another ruthless set of corporate reorganizations was sweeping through the cubicle farm and I was one of the casualties. It was a hard hit, at first, and I made the long drive home in a fit over how I could figure out another work path. I had always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, but I was so accustomed to working and living the chaotic balancing act, that I didn’t know another way.

Then, while sitting at a red light positioned at a dead-end, my inner voice said, “This is what you’ve always wanted. Why are you fighting it?” A calm swept over me. I smiled. And with that, the light turned green and I turned left toward home.

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