It's only my second week writing this column and I already feel like the most unqualified person on the face of the EARTH to be talking about the pursuit of life balance. Both my kids got sick recently, and as most of you know there's nothing quite like illness to re-prioritize things in the following manner:
2) Barf laundry
Everything else falls by the wayside, including nutrition (what's for dinner? Whatever's in a box and includes at least 89 percent of my RDA for sodium, that's what), housekeeping, hobbies, personal hygiene, sleep, etc. Caring for sick children pretty much takes everything that's challenging about parenthood and cranks the knob to eleven.
The extra fun in a household that relies on two incomes is in trying to figure out who stays home from work. Is it my husband, who owns his own business, whose presence is a critical element to their ability to succeed? Is it me, who's leery of causing attendance issues? There are no winners here, people.
That's what really made last week hard: I stayed home one day and found myself trying to stay on top of work issues while dealing with two sniffly, cranky kids. The lowest moment was when I stuck them in front of the TV, snuck off to the computer to answer emails and re-work deadline-dependent ad copy, then nearly burst into hysterical tears when they inevitably interrupted me.
Sometimes it's possible to juggle many things at once. And sometimes in order to do one thing right, you've got to completely let go of the other thing. Sometimes you've got to pick what you're going to fail at, in that moment, and decide that it's not actually a failure after all.
"Guys," I told them, closing my computer. "Let's turn off the TV and color some pictures together, okay?"
(And if this were a pretty story with Hallmark sentiments I would tell you how they jumped for joy and clung to me and everything was great, but I'll be honest: They cried and had tantrums because OMG MOMMMM YO GABBA GABBA WAS ABOUT TO COME ON.)
It's not always easy. It seems like it should be, but the ugly truth is that life is more complicated than love even allows for. Of course it's important for me to care for my children, but earning a living is part of taking care of my family too.
The good news is everything keeps changing, as it always does. The balance that tips so fearfully in the wrong direction eventually rights itself. All we can do is keep moving, and hope we're doing the best we can.