Work/ life balance. What an oxymoron, a big fat lie! How about “active guilt management” instead?
When I hear the word “balance” I picture my kids sitting on the see-saw on our playground. When the two big kids sit on the see-saw there is BALANCE – they take turns bouncing up and down, but if neither of them pushed off the ground they would both just hang there at an almost even level – that my friend, is balance.
My personal view on the whole “work/ life balance” is best described if I get on one side of the see-saw and I stick our two year old Jansen on the other end. Once I sit down on my side of the see-saw the poor little guy will practically get catapulted into space if he’s not holding on for his dear life. To me that’s as close to “balance” you can ever get when you have “work” on one end and “life” on the other.
I haven’t even gone back to work… yet – and I already feel torn, guilty and sad. All aspects of my life deserve more than what I can give – family, work, friends and myself, so how do I decide which portion gets more of “me” while the others get a sweet and sincere “sorry, but not today…”. Guilt, guilt and then some more guilt.
If I give it my all at work then my family is sure to suffer – especially the baby. If I allow stress to sneak into my life my milk production will go down and that directly affects Jonah – so I cannot let that happen. I am a VERY conscientious employee, especially considering I have worked there for over nine years with the same core group of people – day in and day out (except for the four maternity leaves I have taken). So I could never not give it my all while I am at the office, it would go against everything I stand for… so how am I going to make this work?
I might not be able to strike a balance, to HECK with “balance” – screw “balance”… I need to just strive for survival at first – plain and simple “making it through the day”, putting one foot in front of the other… doing what I need to do to make sure my family is well taken care of – and then fill in the remaining day time hours with work stuff. Once we have that routine down, perhaps I will be able to live in a state that is not just described as “survival mode”.
“Balance”, however, will never happen, but I will actively manage my guilt – it might not sound like proper corporate language to put it that way, but that is what it feels like. Every day I will assess what needs to be done for my family, for my job, for myself – and I will actively manage my guilt accordingly. In the long run I need to slow down and take my own advice. I always give new moms the same advice that got me through the early days of motherhood: “adjust your sense of perfect!”
When I was single my apartment was always dust free and nicely organized, then we had one kid… the clutter slowly started to accumulate, if it wasn’t multiplying over night. Instead of stressing I just decided that we will have a nicely decorated house once our baby got older, then we had the second, third and now the fourth baby – well guess what… my sense of what a perfect house should look like has been modified a few times – and that is simply what I will have to do again.
However, I know where my priorities lie and I will make sure that my family’s needs are met – my kids and my husband will not be catapulted off the end of the “work/ life balance” see-saw.