I’ve been thinking a lot about “Balance” lately. It came to mind after I challenged my 5 year old to a game of Twister last night (which by the way, how is that I can stand forever just fine, but can’t manage to keep one foot on green and one foot on red for more than 10 seconds without the burning pain that comes with being an out of shape 33 year old sets in?).
But needless to say that somewhere between my 4th and 5th losses to my dancer daughter who flawlessly managed to keep her balance, it struck me that balance although a seemingly easy concept, is anything but easy.
But whether it's easy or not, it’s something we all have to deal with. Hence the reason that till the end of time all working mothers will talk about it, complain about it, question it. I mean, I probably have written more blogs about work-life balance than any other topic on this blog.
Learning to balance is a long, lonely journey. It’s impossible to learn the art from someone else. I can tell you how I manage to work my job and handle my three young children often by myself (three words: Fruit Snacks, cars, and an IPad). But, everyone has it different.
I can remember being a young lawyer and getting tons of tips on how to be working attorney: Dictate when you are driving, read briefs at your kids activities, get a Nanny to help you cart around the kids. But the problem was that these tips on balance may have balanced the giver of the advice’s life, but they were things that didn’t work in my life.
So over the years I have learned, as I was shown ever so painfully last night that while one person may be able to manage a right hand red, left hand blue, another may fall flat on her butt (repeatedly). It’s like the child sitting at the kitchen table leaning back way in his chair balanced on two legs. You may tell him repeatedly the “Four on floor” warning telling him that he will fall, but he just smiles at you knowing he can balance just fine.
So I stopped asking for advice, cancelled subscriptions to working mother publications, and decided that no one is going to teach me how to be a working Mom, it’s just something I have to do on my own.
I think my problem with balance is understanding the concept that it is a constantly changing process. You get yourself in a perfect groove, everything is going great, and then comes a week on your calendar where you have 7 briefs, 3 child activity commitments, and you get the flu. So I think it’s not about truly learning how to keep balance, its trying to master the art form of being able to constantly adapt to balance no matter what is thrown at you.
Last week was a particularly hard week in my house as I was in trial. My kids (and myself) are used to me being the one to be there when they are home, cook them dinner, play with them, bathe them, and kiss them good-night. But last week I couldn’t do that. I spent my nights up till 1:00 a.m. working, I missed dinner with the family, good night kisses, and had to send my understudy (Todd) to sing my classic lullabyes. I felt completely guilty the whole week, almost as if I was on trial. My poor mother had to listen to me “defend” myself all week, “But Mom, I’m always there, this is just one week I can’t be”, etc. Even though no one was making me feel bad about my busy schedule, I was my hardest critic. It was just one of those weeks (that luckily are few and far between) that the balance in my life was completely off.
But my week reminded me just how important family time is to my balance. I have been accused more times than I can count of being a “total Mom” (whatever that means). I proudly admit that my kids are my life…without the three of them, I have no outside life. I hear friends of mine talking about their book or wine clubs, that they religiously attend to get some social time away from their kids. They always think I’m joking when I say the only book club I attend discusses such riveting issues as why is Sam I Am so insistent that his friend eat Green Eggs and Ham. Wine clubs? Nope, just whine clubs exist in my house. It just so happens that the strongest “legs on my chair” so to speak are my kids and so I balance heavily upon that part of my life.
There are times in my life I feel like I have a perfect balance and can navigate my worlds just fine. Other times, like last week, I feel like I am grasping for a rope to hold onto. I guess I still have a lot to learn about adapting to the challenges of being a working Mom.
I think the goal to work-life balance is just to find the right amount of balance where you are comfortable and not a second away from crashing down. My advice on finding balance, find the balance that works in your world and be proud of it. And don’t expect that balance to stay the same forever, for as different challenges are presented, we have to modify how we balance our lives. Will we ever find the perfect balance? Yeah I think that is about as unlikely as me ever beating my daughter at Twister.