Archives for posts with tag: balance

It’s been nearly fifteen months since my son was born and 363 days since I went back to work. Maintaining a full-time working mom status is like a life sentence of feeling like your half-assing everything. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but it’s true. There is a hell of a lot to do and not much time to do it.

My mornings are like wrestling with multiple personality disorder until my husband shoves me out the door for our commute. There’s my egocentric teenage personality who we’ll call “Lizzy” (because adding a “y” to the end of any name makes it egocentric-in case you didn’t know). When my husband turns on the light in the bedroom at 6AM or my dog does that annoyingly loud shimmy shake while I still have my head buried in the pillow, “Lizzy” wants to tell them to get lost. There’s my playful, snuggly, maternal side who we’ll call “Lindsay” (because I wasn’t going to assign my own name to a negative aspect of my personality-duh). “Lindsay” just wants to huddle with her adorable son on the couch and sing the theme song to “Little Einsteins” at the top of her lungs and call work to report that she’s developed a last minute case of something terrible. And then there’s my driven, independent, career-focused side who we’ll call “Lynn” (because one-syllable names aren’t messing around). “Lynn” usually tells “Lizzy” to get her lazy ass out of bed and reminds her to make the bed once she’s out of it, then notifies “Lindsay” that if she doesn’t get herself and her son dressed and out the door, “Little Einsteins” will be nothing but a memory because the cable bill won’t be paid.

Like any goal-oriented, hopeful woman, I strive for a balanced, integrated personality, but most days, it just doesn’t happen. Tricks I use to present the façade of balance and integration include a healthy layer of make-up, an outfit that matches, chocolate, and a smile. In addition, if I’m going to cry or bang my head up against the wall, I try to do it in the privacy of my own office or quietly in a bathroom stall.

In any case, these days, when I happen to strike a balance, it is a matter of pure luck. But at least I’m trying (and faking it) as much as possible.

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(A little baby humor I came across to set the mood for my new post)

At 31, life has taught me a few things.  Among others, coffee makes me a more likeable person; wine, laughter, and friends are essential to my sanity; you can’t fight the pear shape if you’re Greek; and seriousness can often be an unfortunate side effect of age.  When I look back on myself as a child, it seems like imagination, creativity, and courage came easier.  Maybe the fun and freedom fades a little when your responsibilities start piling up and your playhouse has been replaced by a real house with a mortgage.  But life can’t be all serious when you grow up; I’ve always felt happiest when I balance responsibility with playfulness.  It’s easy to focus on the serious side because to-do lists keep growing, but it can be harder to focus on the playful side.  How do you fit silly, uncontained laughter in between grocery shopping and balancing the checkbook?

At 8 years old, the balance came naturally.  My oversized eyeglasses to correct my nearsightedness said “serious”, but their bright red color said “silly”.  When my head started to throb from memorizing state capitals at school, the bell would ring and it was time for a crazy game of four-square during recess.  After I spent a couple hours on my homework, I could blow off steam by exploring my mother’s spice cabinet and creating concoctions to force feed my little brother.  Cinnamon-Oregano-Salt Surprise was his favorite, in case you’re wondering.

As an adult, I often get lost in my routine and I forget to make time for fun.  Sometimes I only realize the fun is missing when I slow down enough to realize I’m feeling burnt out or bored.  What I’ve noticed as my son gets older and develops quite a personality is that he reminds me to be balanced.  I can’t be very serious around a 7-month old.  For instance, I’ll bring him home from daycare and I’ll still be sporting my furrowed brow from a long day at work.  I pick him up and out of the blue, he lets out a loud fart and smiles at me proudly.  Or I’ll find myself breaking out some dance moves for him when he’s crying.  He laughs the hardest at my “running man” and “dougie” dances, although my husband usually looks on with a combination of disbelief and shame.  Not to mention the shows I put on for him with his stuffed animals…he is easily amused by his giraffe singing personalized raps for him (“You got poopie in your diaper but you’re still lookin cool/Cuz the ladies like the saggy pants and a little bit of drool”).

The point is–everything is new again when I’m experiencing it with him.  I’m not looking at things through my jaded, 31-year old eyes.  I can see things through his eyes now and everything seems a little more interesting and magical.  He makes it easy to tap into imagination, creativity, and courage.  After all, I would have never been courageous enough to bust out all of my dance moves in front of my husband when we first met.  I may have scared him away.  But now he’s stuck with me.  And even worse for him, now that our son is here, I’m going to keep telling my dumb jokes and making up my ridiculous raps because I finally have someone who laughs at them.  I have to take advantage of that now before he becomes a teenager and suddenly I’m not funny at all.