Did you spot what's wrong? No? The summary was esentially correct. Balance is hard, Mommy guilt stinks, it's hard to be a good Mom and a excel at your job. on the surface, nothing is wrong. In another way however, EVERYTHING IS WRONG WITH THIS CONVERSATION. ALL OF IT. (Except for the happy mom getting a kiss from her little girl, that is adorable.)
I'm not angry. I'm just kinda over it. 'Cause here's the truth:
- Not once have I read an article that poses the question: "Can you be a good Dad and go to work?" Or "Working after baby: are you Man enough?" Or "Work/Life balance: Can Men have it all and clean the house?" Until the Dad equivalent of this guilt-producing media drivel starts to make the front pages of whatever beer/sports/political magazines my husband reads, I'm going to go ahead and pass on the extra helping of guilt. Because really, that's all this is. Granted, this particular article did a decent-ish job comparing and contrasting the differences in support structures for Moms in modern countries, (the US doesn't do so well-shocking, I know,) but it still used a hook that plays to the "what if I'm not good enough" monster we all harbor.
- The fact that anyone picks up this crap sincerely wondering if they are good enough tells me that a) they worry too much and b) they are minimally a good Mom, because good Moms worry about their kids and do whatever they can to provide for their kids. Including going to work, and reading crappy articles that fill them with self-doubt.
- There is no such thing as work-life balance. Someone made that up to make us feel bad and sell magazines. At least, there's no such thing as work-life balabce after you have kids. Because you know what happens right after I get the laundry caught up? Suddenly the clothes that everyone has been rocking for the last three days are no longer good enough and they decide they need fresh clothes EVERY day. You know what happens right after I get the grocery shopping done? Everyone decides to eat and before you know it we are out of milk/bread/fruit and I am right back at the store again. You know what happens as soon as I am almost nearly done with that urgent deadline at work? There's another, harder, urgent-er deadline. You know where I go to have a moment to myself? The bathroom. Then I let everyone I live with believe whatever they want. In fact, most of my blog writing happens in the bathroom. True story, go ahead, judge me all you want, but that is the last room I have left to myself. So you could say I find my work-life balance on the crapper. And I am not alone. The Hubster spends a suspicious amount of time in there too.
- Finally, and most importantly: Balance is not Mom's job. Balance is the whole family's job. (Except for maybe the baby's on account of they're just a baby after all.) If Mom AND Dad need/want to work, the Mom AND Dad are jointly responsible for childcare, and chores, and keeping up the house, and dinner, and laundry, and bills and whatever other arbitrary crap we are obligated to do to live the life style we choose/aspire to. Because seriously, if you're not a single Mom, there is no reason you should be doing it all alone.
I work part time from home. It is a pretty good gig. But some days, when I have worked through bedtime three nights in a row, and the laundry is piling up, and the house is a mess, and I have given my kid an iPad to try and string 30 quiet minutes together to finish a detail drawing, and let him eat marshmallows for lunch because he refused everything else, and my boss is calling wondering where that drawing is, and what the hold up could possibly be, I really wonder if I am doing the right thing. And the answer is yes. I am doing my best and that will have to be enough. My guess is you are too.
My hope is that my kid learns a few key things from my messy house and my "good enough" attitude.
- If you are great at one thing, something else might slide, and as long as that thing is minor, it's ok. I think the motivational speaker type people call this "prioritizing". People are always more important than clean floors or laundry.
- Be a good employee, but don't be afraid to set boundaries. Just because you get an email at 10 pm does not mean that you are required to respond. Go to bed. Go on vacation without your cell phone and your computer, your coworkers are competent and will survive. If they miss you, awesome. We call that job security. Life will always be hectic, there will always be stuff to do, don't let your to-do list get in the way of living.
- You are good enough, just the way you are. Do your best. Be kind. Be open to improvements, but know deep down that you are good, and worthy, and don't subject yourself to unnecessary self-doubt just to attain someone else's ideal.