“There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.”
― Alain de Botton
Recently a bestie sent me an article, and I was drawn in. I liked this article enough to send it to my girlfriends in an attempt to have an articles club (cool idea!) during our moms’ weekend. My friends read it in advance and related to the topic. So, I pushed it as far as handing out a copy of the article and pens to everyone the first day, but we had so much chat about … it didn’t happen.
Still, the article stuck with me and I thought I’d write about it here.
It was directed at working mothers, but I think the message speaks to all women about work-life balance and the notion of “having it all.”
Both of which, I think are faulty.
My favorite quote from the article: “Accept that you cannot be both Olivia Pope and Mrs. Beaver; maybe aim to be more like Mrs. Cosby (she was both a career woman and a mother). Decide for yourself what you want and then enjoy it!”
Words well spoken.
The article has been on my mind for three weeks. Here’s where I’m at:
Create a Vision: You’re setting yourselves up for failure thinking you can “have it all.” Having it all? I have thought long and hard about it, and honestly, I don’t know what it means. I know what I want, but “having it all,” no thanks. “Having it all” sounds like a marketed catch phrase derived from a fantasy life. It’s not authentic. It’s not mine.
What do you want? Now. In five years. Out of life. Live what you want! Define your own vision of success and happiness. As the article says: “Instead of trying to live up to society’s expectations of what we should be doing, women need to decide what we want and then go after it, without apologies.”
The beauty of living your vision is you don’t need to be sold on what you’ll do year after year. In fact, don’t be. Be flexible. You’ll know when you’re on your path. If not, change it.
Don’t Find Your Balance: I’m over it! Work-life balance … what does that even mean? It’s so frustrating to wonder if you’ve achieved balance. As you aim to split yourself into two, what it really sounds like is a mathematical equation. And a guilty one at that. It’s time to stop asking ourselves if we’ve achieved work/life balance. It doesn’t make sense. We’re integrating baby! The lines are blurred. My life as a mother does not stop the moment I step into my classroom, and it never will. My home life is my cornerstone, but I’m a teacher too. I mother when I teach and I teach when I mother. I listen to French in the car, both teaching my daughters and yes, planning out my lessons. It’s not balanced; it’s blended.
Life is not an equation to be balanced. This line bares repeating: Life is not an equation to be balanced.
Yes, there are days when your life is flowing in balance. And man, those days feel blissful. But most days, it’s not like that. Most days, you’re stumbling into balance and integrating all of the roles of your life.
I’m ready sink in and let my life blend, yet society’s message on “work-life balance” is strong. When I find myself fixating on balance, I try to take a moment to stop trying to fit life into an equation and just be.
Jennifer Garner nails it when she talks about “having it all” and work-life balance (Check it out here). She broaches the imbalance that women are asked about balance and men are not. She says: “We got home at night and we compared notes,” she explained. “And I told him every single person who interviewed me, I mean every single one… asked me, ‘How do you balance work and family?’ And he said the only thing that people asked him repeatedly was about the tits on the Blurred Lines girl.”
Believe You are Enough: Your life will be so much happier once you make peace with yourself. It’s time to stop the comparisons. There will always be someone who (in your mind) is doing more, or better, or bigger, or this/that Pinterest. Toss it! All of our lives are different. We are all working so flipping hard that it is hurtful, not helpful, to judge and compare our lives to our neighbors.
STOP! I, for one have chosen to work full-time as a teacher. And I could feel endless guilt, but I’ve ditched that. I’m enough. You are enough.
Per the article: “…the problem is that we as women expect too much of ourselves and when we cannot achieve everything in our minds’ idea, instead of realizing that our expectations are unrealistic, we beat ourselves up for being less than enough.”
Build a Village: You may have your mom. Or his mom. Maybe you have a mom’s group or partner with some moms at school. Build your community to help each other out. We can’t do this alone. Sure, you can try, but it’s not nearly as much fun. We all need someone to grab our daughter when we’re stuck in a meeting or traffic or the friend who’s willing to take our kiddos when we’re in need of a pedicure but have no funds for a babysitter.
Reset Every Day: The beautiful thing about ending your day is that you get to start over. Start fresh. It’s a new dawn. It’s new day. Every Day. It’s easier to show up when you take it one day at a time. You can recalibrate every day.
Ciao for now.