We’ve been lied to. We’ve been told over and over again that our work life and our home life should have balance. This is impossible, people. There is no such thing as having everything in your life perfectly balanced.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a stay-at-home mom, work-at-home mom, or work-outside-the-home mom, we’ve been trying to have it all and keep it all balanced and equal. We’re moms, professionals, wives, marathon runners (well, I’m not, but maybe you are), sisters, friends, homeschool teachers (not me, again), etc.; trying to be everything to everyone.
On top of that, I am constantly hearing about how the goal of life is to have work/life balance. It might as well be a unicorn on the top of a mountain that doesn’t have one of those fun tram-things you can take to get to the top.
There seems to be a perception out there that if we find that elusive work/life balance our kids will eat all of their vegetables and sleep peacefully through the night, our laundry will all be put away the minute it comes out of the dryer, and there won’t be any distractions at work because you missed “Muffins with Mom” at your kid’s school. I’ve realized that it’s all a lie. My kid won’t touch a vegetable with a ten-foot pole. Ever. And I did miss “Muffins with Mom” because I had a meeting that I couldn’t reschedule.
I recently had the pleasure of hearing Jane Smith, Vice President of College Relations at Spelman College, speak to a group of business women about the four quarters of our lives. She said that between ages 25-50 “you learn that balance is a lie, but there is perseverance. This is where we learn to play the game.”
When I heard that, I had an epiphany. She’s right. It’s not about balance. It IS about perseverance. It’s about being strong and doing what we can to get through this time of our lives in the best way possible. We’re learning to play the game that is “being an adult,” which includes figuring out this mom-thing.
I also realized that when we think of balance, we assume it means that all parts of our life should be represented equally. That’s not how it works.
On the days when we’re kicking butt at work, we’re not kicking butt at home. The laundry is definitely still in a basket on the floor on these days and we’ve probably had take-out for dinner. Conversely, if we’ve attended all of the kid events then there are other things in our life that didn’t get the same amount of attention that day.
The key is accepting it.
We need to accept that we will never find a perfect balance of everything in our lives. This mom thing is super-hard. On top of that, my husband expects me to be a wife. (What?!) My boss expects me to be a professional. (Crazy, I know.) And I’m trying to keep the house spring time fresh! (This one is probably never going to happen. Unless you say you’re coming over, then maybe. Okay, I’m lying…still not going to happen.)
Soon enough, our kids won’t need us as much and we’ll have more time for the other needs/wants in our lives. We’ll shift our priorities. The weight of everything we’re trying to balance will change.
Like Jane Smith said, it’s about persevering through this time in our lives. We’re in the midst of the toughest job we’ll ever have, and doing the best we can at everything else. Accept the fact that we may not be able to be everything to everyone all the time. And enjoy it!
So, forget about all of that balance nonsense; focus instead on perseverance. The definition of perseverance is “steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.”
That sounds exactly like being a mom. We’ve got this.