With a big project at work taking up a lot of her time, the Workin’ Mama discusses work/life balance and the struggle to find time for everything.
June nearly flew by without any words of wisdom from this workin’ mama. That’s because I am living the dream our grandmothers and great-grandmothers fought so hard for us to win: the right to work and earn my own living AND be a mom.
This month there is a gigantic, soul-sucking project due. This project tests all the systems my employer has in place. It has me working on my mama day (something I swore I would stop doing) and evenings. It is disrupting my work/life “balance”. As a result, there has not been a great deal of time to write to the dear readers about it!
I don’t think any of our forbears had a roadmap for what working and raising children was supposed to look like. Each of us defines that experience in our own unique way. You can choose to listen to the cultural cues of what the ideal is supposed to look like or not. I find the message in our western world to be more a fantasy than a plan of action. In the fantasy, we have enough time for our family and our career. In the fantasy, we somehow all have the time and energy to be supermoms and dads while at the same time pursuing the amazing careers our grandmothers fought to gain for us.
In reality, it’s a juggling act. Energy and time are finite commodities. Sometimes we have enough to share between work and career. Sometimes one takes more than the other. I stay home when our kiddo is sick. And now I find myself looking at another mamadag when I will probably have to work on this very large project. I’ve mentioned more then once how much I appreciate the standpoint in the Netherlands of protecting parents’ right to spend more time with their children and not get fired for it. In my small personal experience, I find it works. I get just as much done – if not more – in my shortened week, and I treasure that mamadag I have with my little one. Appreciating the value of this time off makes me even more protective of it. It’s a constant struggle – how to prioritize between family and career.
I know this project is testing me in good ways. In a few months, I will look back at the work and see how much I grew professionally as a result. I will realize that these feelings of resentment are actually an improvement over the guilt I normally feel. I am learning to accept the juggling act, to recognize that sometimes I have to work a little more, and sometimes to take more time for my family – all while growing as a person, a mother, and a professional. I think that’s what my great-grandmother was probably aiming at.
Alexis Podolny Heald
Alexis is the mother of one adorable Munchkin and wife of OH. A working Mama and a new Mama, she writes for us on the challenges of balancing family and work life.