I'm Leah, and in a lucky twist of fate, I've landed my three dream jobs:
book editor, writer, and mother. Since having my son in December 2008, my
work-life has been in constant flux - full-time? part-time? freelance?
working at home or in the office? It depends on the day and which way the
wind is blowing - and figuring out how to keep it all going is a constant
challenge. Heck, I'm still getting used to the idea of being someone's
Check out my profile on Work It, Mom! and my personal blog, A Girl and a Boy.
When I was in school, I always prided myself on completing every assignment completely and being completely complete in everything I did. I thought this was all merely the functioning of a dedicated perfectionist (and certifiable nerd), but I’m wondering now if I also just had too much time on my hands.
Now that I’m a mom of two, the household CEO, and a kind of sporadic employee for a handful of clients in a handful of different industries, my life is definitely less organized and more hectic, and the very first thing that slides is my so-called perfectionism at home. The house is a mess, the kids haven’t bathed in…a while, and most of the time I don’t even know what day it is. I keep myself from feeling like a total failure of a homemaker by telling myself none of things things are really a big deal in the big picture, and although I know I’m right (right?), I also know I’m rationalizing as a survival mechanism.
But the truth is I have to let something (okay, some things) slide because I can’t do it all 100 percent, as much as I’d like to, and that can give me a real case of the ughs. I hate feeling like a slacker in the areas of my life that I will always swear are my top priorities–family and home–while I simultaneously chase perfection in the work I do professionally. So what gives? Why do I churn out work that’s on time and shiny and complete while my kids are in the corner playing with dust bunnies? Do I simply have a higher standard for myself as an employee than as a mother? Yikes. I hope not.
Here’s what I think it is: I take advantage in the places I can take advantage. If the kids are dirty, they’re still my kids and they still love me. If the house is dirty, it’s still my house and it can always be cleaned tomorrow (or the next day). If I re-neg on a date night with my husband because I have to work late, he always forgives me and takes a rain check. But if I miss a job deadline or do substandard work or neglect my professional emails for a few days because I’m busy swiffering the floor or playing Spot It for the frillionth time, the reality is that I might not have those clients any more. And I need those clients, as much for my sanity as for the paychecks.
Through it all, I haven’t relinquished my desire to be perfect, but I’ve learned to temper that fire with the cool mist of reason: I’m doing what’s necessary, and I’m doing the best I can. Besides, a dirty kid is loved no less than a clean one, and a dirty house is no less full of good family memories.
Have you found a way to balance your work and family lives such that the things you say are your top priorities are actually treated as such?
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