I’ve written more posts than I can count about finding balance, trying to find balance, or about how unattainable balance can be for a working mother – and yet how many of us still believe it should exist.
I’ve never believed in balance. I think that when we are seeking balance, we are going to be disappointed.
This morning as I ran I considered the numerous jobs we have as working mothers: mother, spouse/significant other, housecleaner, baker, sewer, playmate, employee, boss, bookeeper, customer service rep, wife, lover, friend, soulmate, confidante, and the list goes on and on.
Most of these we do on a daily basis. Let’s face it, there’s not often a day that goes by that we don’t pick something up off of the floor, read a work related email or try to find time to spend with our spouse.
And we are always parenting. Even if we are at work, our children are there somewhere in our minds, and as we look at our calendars we think, “Is there something I have to be doing that day for my kids?” before we ever write in another appointment.
Yet we still, still, still have this unrealistic expectation that we must balance everything.
What do you think about when you think of balance?
I think about a tightrope walker high above the crowd on a thin wire.
This walker has to balance to remain in the air, to stay alive so to speak.
As mothers, we often think we have to keep everything in complete balance to live the best life. But the fact is, we can’t. It’s impossible. When you have a thousand jobs to do all in one day, almost every day of your life, something has to give.
I was reading an interview in this issue of Working Mother magazine, and in the article the mother stated she believes in work/life integration, not balance.
I love this! Just the title, just the idea of integrating rather than balancing is so much better, so much more attainable.
In the article, she stated that sometimes in life you have to spend more time on your family, and sometimes in life you have to spend more time on your job. So true! Yet if you believe you have to completely balance it all, when you are spending more time on one you are feeling guilty about not spending as much time on the other.
Can we let go of the idea that we have to balance, and embrace the idea that we can continue through life focusing on what needs the most attention at that time?
If so, I believe working mothers will be happier and will feel more content. Oftentimes our depression, our frustration, our aggravation comes from not being able to do everything we really want to do – and so we feel inadequate.
But that is the mathematics of life. 24 hours + 1,000 jobs in a day = not enough time.
If we can learn to prioritize, and we understand that sometimes one thing will have to give (dirty dishes in the sink) while we spend time on other things (extra bedtime cuddles for a scared child or one who just needs to talk) our lives will be much more content.
If we can learn to let go of that perfection for a minute, we’ll understand how ridiculous this idea of balance really is.
Here’s to work/life integration! Happy workday, mothers and fathers!