I feel I have lost the balance in my life. To some, this might not be that surprising—it doesn’t really take much to throw things off kilter. It could be a sudden business trip to Boston, a school function that didn’t make it onto the calendar, a family gathering that hasn’t had all the details worked out. The point is, it doesn’t really matter what I have to do, if it isn’t part of my everyday life, it is more than likely going to disturb the tenuous balance that exists among all of the things that divide my time.
Of all the things that I juggle, the two constants in my life seem to be my children and my career. These are the two areas that take nearly all of my focus, and definitely most of my time. A true day off from motherhood is a rarity for most—for me, it occurs once in a long while, and even then, just for a few hours at most. My days off from work, although a welcome break, usually involve doing something with my kids—so is that really a day off?
A normal day for me begins with a cup of coffee in front of The Today Show—something I look forward to each morning at 7am. This usually lasts until the first commercial break, at which time it is interrupted by my daughter asking for any number of things: something for breakfast; a towel for when she gets out of the shower; a review of items for a test later in the day—there is always something. It is the signal that my real day is about to begin, and I had better be ready.
I work from home, so I have a 15 second commute from my bedroom to my office. From the time my children leave for school until just about 5 o’clock, I am on the phone, running meetings, working on documents—basically, I am working. The biggest challenge that working from home has for me is when I am confronted by the messiness of my home. If I go into the kitchen for a cup of coffee, there are the dishes in the sink from the night before. If I walk down the hall, there is the unfinished laundry waiting to be washed and folded. If I happen to glance in my children’s room as I pass by on my way to the bathroom, I cringe at the site: clothes strewn all over the floor, toys of every make and model littered along every available surface; half-filled glasses of milk or water sitting on desks and dressers. It’s enough to make me dread the end of the workday when I will have to turn my attention back to my home. That being said, between my son’s taekwondo and my daughter’s dance classes, I don’t try to get it all done each day, I do my best to make it look tidy and I leave the heavy lifting until the weekend. Normally, I am not phased by all of these domestic chores—they are just a part of normal life. But, when I add something else to my day—like my Monday night kickboxing class or trying to find time to write—it seems like I can’t find enough time in the day (or night) to get it all done. When this goes on for days, and then for weeks, the feeling of imbalance takes over and I am left feeling as if I am failing the people around me—the friends I don’t email back, the messages that get ignored, my husband who barely sees me . . .
This is how I have been feeling—until today.
I drove up to Boston this morning. I was barely across the Hudson River when a sense of peacefulness overcame me as I thought about my family—especially my children. I remembered my daughter crying as I tucked her into bed the night before. Although I don’t want her to be sad that I am away, being reminded of how important I truly am to her—I am her rock, her center, her place of comfort—makes me know that I am succeeding in the one area that matters most—being a mom.
The advice I have for my daughter is to not overload herself with more “things” than she can handle at any given time. However, if it does happen, she needs to recognize those things that will bring her the greatest joy and to focus on those first. The rest of the stuff will find a way to work itself out . . . sometime.