The art of being a working mother
It took 8 years, lots of trial and error and one epic crash and burn but I finally found it. I finally discovered the art of balancing working professionally and being a mom. What is the perfect ratio, the equation that will bring you professional success and a 1950’s household? Work less and be a mom more. Before you hit the back button, hold on. Before you assume that I’m just another lady who gave up please pause. See this article through, read and learn from my mistakes and at the end of it see if it doesn’t mirror your reality even a bit.
The lies they tell us
The books tell us we can have it all. Perfect careers, perfect children, perfect marriages and speck free houses. I read all the books, joined the right groups – I balanced life like a juggler on drugs. I tried that and not only did I fail miserably as I assume all women did before me but my life imploded. The more I demonstrated I could handle without collapsing the more people threw at me and the heavier the load got. I snapped at people I loved more, I made less time for my friends and I described my life in the same word we have all gotten a little too comfortable using – Busy. Busy, slammed, swamped – it doesn’t really matter what adjective you use. If you routinely describe your life with these words then you really need to ask yourself a question. Are you really balancing things as well as you think you are?
The disappearing lady
A great therapist once asked me what my hobbies and interests were. She wanted to know what I did for fun and the truth was I had no idea. I couldn’t answer a question about what I liked. In all honesty I had been running to keep up and to stay alive for so long that survival was the only mode I recognized anymore. I was in my 30’s and in the quest to have a life I had ended up with nothing for myself. Can you answer her questions? Do you really know who you are and what you like anymore?
The best way to describe my life before is to imagine standing in a hallway with a closed door behind you. In that room you hear banging and clashing and screaming and chaos. Sounds fun right? If you were in the hallway there is likely no way you would open that door and subject yourself to that insanity. But if you are already in the room you are likely just trying to find a way to survive it because chances are you don’t know life any other way.
The crash and the solution
When I worked more, everyone suffered, I was exhausted, my kids were emotionally off-balance and my house looked like a tsunami hit it. Sound familiar? I’d like to tell you I sorted this all out without a major crash but that isn’t my truth. I burnt out, not once, but at least a handful of times before I crashed. I ended up with a concussion. I smelled things that weren’t there, the room spun, my eyes went in and out of focus and I could literally do nothing for days.
My husband saved me. He went into my schedule and he blocked off day and hours and he put breaks everywhere. I sat back and watched with anxiety as he erased my life – my so-called-life. When I went back to work I realized that I could only handle what was in my schedule. If I did any more my brain was exhausted and I suffered the next day. It took me 8 months for my brain to heal enough that I could fall asleep on my own again. By the time months had passed I not only loved my shorter work hours, but I got to see the effect it had on my marriage, my kids and my house. I had time for hobbies and activities and friends. I made a new life by crashing, by taking on less and by finally after all these years learning to say no. Having it all wasn’t what was right for me or my family. Could it be it isn’t right for you?
If you are struggling know that you aren’t alone, reach out, find a friend, a therapist or by all means connect with me here.