with Mir Kamin
I'm a freelance writer and mother of two working from home, which theoretically means I can set my own schedule so as to best accommodate my family. In reality, "flexible hours" often equals "working too much." Yes, I'm my own boss; no, that doesn't mean life is easy. It's hard to leave the office when you live there. But I love what I do and feel very lucky. And not just because I get paid to work in my pajamas.
To learn more about Mir, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! or visit her blog at http://www.wouldashoulda.com/
I recently started taking yoga again, because the opportunity presented itself (the class is nearby and conveniently scheduled) and because it’s possible that I tend to be just a tiny bit high-strung (NO REALLY). I love the way yoga makes me feel, both physically and emotionally. If I’m able to just let go of everything else and enjoy it, it’s a really wonderful way to feel refreshed and centered for at least an hour.
Of course, whenever we do any poses in class that require me to balance on one foot, I try very hard to calm my mind and my body and be one with my mat and all of that, and to just stand still… but in reality I weave from side to side and my muscles shudder and twitch and my “up” foot thumps to the floor as I catch myself from falling on my face. My balance, you see, isn’t all that great. And that turns out to be a great metaphor for balance in my life, actually, because as much as I want it, the rare times I achieve it are shaky at best, and short-lived. At some point the other foot—metaphorical or real—has to hit the floor again to prevent disaster.
I suppose it’s no wonder that I gravitate towards writing and people that reiterate that work-life balance is merely a myth we all want to believe. That’s comforting, knowing I’m not the only one who just can’t seem to get it right.
This morning I read a great post by Stephanie O’Dea over at Totally Together Journal where she said—among other things—that she refuses to outsource her kids. She talks about the struggle to “get everything done” and her realization that at the end of the day, her family comes first.
I love Stephanie, and I love that she is so clear on what matters to her.
In theory, I agree with her. I want to be the kind of person whose priorities are always in order, so that at least if I cannot balance everything, I drop the less important things rather than the more important ones. Right now I think I’m not very good at that. Right now I’m still chasing that elusive balance, sure that if I just concentrate a little harder, practice a little longer… I’ll be able to do it.
Also, my kids are older than Stephanie’s. And while I absolutely agree that family comes first, period, in practice it can be awfully tempting to choose finishing a writing assignment over dealing with a mouthy teen. Not that I’ve, uh, ever done that. I’m just saying. I think it’s also sometimes hard to resist a certain kind of self-pity in the key of “woe is me, my needs always come last.” Look, I’ll be the first to tell you that parents—moms in particular—can’t just tie themselves up in their kids’ needs and call that a life; but by the same token, I have only 18 years or so to get each kid ready to stand on their own two feet in the world, and P.S. they didn’t exactly ask to be born. My needs can’t always come last, but the kids get priority in lots of ways. And that’s alright.
So can it be done? Can we “have it all,” manage everything in a day, feel like every segment of our lives get exactly the attention they deserve? I doubt it. It becomes a matter not of balancing, per se, but allocating wisely. And I think I might be okay with that.
In case you didn’t check out Steph’s post, she includes a TED video that’s well worth 10 minutes of your time (apologies for being unable to embed it here). Nigel Marsh shares some hard-won truths on what really matters at the end of the day.
More and more, I think it’s not about balancing everything, but picking and choosing where to place our energy, and being realistic about what matters and what’s just noise. Maybe that is a kind of balance, in itself.
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