Dolly Parton had it right way back in 1980 – tumble out of bed and pour myself some ambition. It’s how I get my world rolling every morning. First, with a GIANT cup of coffee.
The alarm goes off at an ungodly hour Monday – Friday in order to attempt to get ahead of the monsters. I am not a morning person. I have never been a morning person, so I squeeze every last minute of shuteye possible. That leaves me 30 precious minutes alone before chaos ensues.
The to dos list of the morning is on auto pilot. The wake-ups with gentle reminders of what the theme of the day is, or what activity requires extra gear pack leads us into the kitchen for breakfast, lunch assembly, and then the second phase of gentle reminders to get us out the door for the car service. All these things happen as the next to do list for the day job begins to bubble to the forefront of my thoughts.
Before the monsters, before the Hubs, I lived and worked in a city, commuted via mass transportation, where I read a book and didn’t think twice about a minor delay or a meeting that ran late into the afternoon. When the Hubs’ training took us across the country, and we started our family is when the doubt crept in. How in the world do you juggle all these expectations? There are so many self imposed roles we feel we must fill, and it’s exhausting… all the workin’, mommin’, wifin’, and friendin’, to name a few of the good ones. Then there are, of course, the other necessary evils of cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping – it’s endless, and in those early monster years, overwhelming! I am a do-it-yourselfer and a serial enabler, which together is a recipe for early burnout if there ever was one.
One of the most repeated pieces of advice I received in those early days and weeks was “you need to find a balance.” Unfortunately, that’s where the advice ended. No how-to guide provided. Striking a balance for our family took lots of trial and error. We had to find what worked for us. I had to learn what I could let go and adjust what we could handle. I had to determine what was key to our happiness.
Those trial and error days included a myriad of different work scenerios for me. It wasn’t an option for the Hubs, so by default, my work consisted of:
Working from home with weekly cross country travel. We hired a full time nanny, and my heart broke a little each time they ran for her and not me with a “ya ya” – her word for injury.
Working full time in the city while living in the suburbs. We enrolled the monsters in preschool, and then had panic attacks every morning on the frantic trip in rush hour to be on time for work and then in reverse for school pick up before the $1 a minute charge ensued or worse expulsion, from preschool!
Stay at home mom! It was summer break, and it was awesome. We swam, traveled, played, explored and then the monsters went back to school and I went stir crazy…
My current gig is as close to a perfect fit that I can imagine. Part-time working from home with a few (like under 5) trips a year. The work keeps me connected to my professional identity and the flexibility lets me volunteer at the book fair and meet the monsters for lunch while they still think it’s cool to eat with their momma.
With each move, job shift, and phase of the monsters little lives we adjust to try to maintain the balance. Some days and stages are easier than others.