Ages ago I wrote a post about how having it all felt a bit like shit and it was a big one. Lots and lots and lots of mums could relate. The interesting thing about writing that, though, was that I think I missed the point. Or, at least I didn’t write the point very well.
See, there were loads of lovely comments on that post and social media giving me ideas for finding more downtime for myself and I appreciated them all, it’s just… I already have all those things in my life. I really do feel amply supported in my day to day life.
We have a cleaner (weekly). We even have a gardener (monthly).
I have a great, solid, love-you-all-so-much support network of friends who help us out every single week. Friends who take the kids to activities. Friends who drop by with food. Friends who take the kids for an afternoon. Friends who drag me off to the pub when I’m getting too insular. Friends who tell me no.
I have a MIL who cooks dinner for the extended family every Wednesday night without fail and I don’t even have to be there if I don’t want to be.
Most of all, I have a super-hands-on husband who cannot do enough to help me in any aspect of life. There’s not a single thing that man wouldn’t and doesn’t do to help keep the home fires burning. We are definitely in this together and it’s only society’s warped opinion of what constitutes a ‘mother’s’ role and a ‘father’s’ role that means he gets praised for ‘babysitting’ his own children and I get judged for ‘letting’ him. Hrrumph. That’s an issue for another time.
Anyway, as you can see, for me it’s not about a lack of support. I’m grateful to have all the support I could possibly wish for in my life.
Instead, what I think it might have been my belief that ‘work’ is one thing and ‘life’ is another. I grew up with that thinking, I started work with that thinking and I worked for many, many years with that thinking. Right up to the time I wrote the ‘Having it all’ post, in fact.
Then I had a mini-epiphany. I realised that my brain was working overtime trying to process work like that, but it can’t. Instead, my emotional equilibrium became a jumbled mish-mash and I was fighting to mentally keep up with it all. And I realised that what I was actually fighting to keep up with wasn’t work, it was life.
Because work is life and life is work and all the other things too.
I don’t know why this realisation changed things for me, but somehow it did. I think I feel less like I have to do well at both work and life and now I just have to do well at life. Previously, if I wasn’t winning at both ‘work’ and ‘life’, I felt somehow let down and angsty. I didn’t feel like I was doing my best, even if work was going well or life was going well. And we all know that it’s almost impossible for both work and the rest of life to be going really well at any given time, right?
Now that I’ve just got life to consider, it means I’m doing really well most days. Sometimes I might be a gold star winner at my job, other times I have to settle for a tick because I’m busy getting my gold star for parenting, or eating, or playing, or whatever it is that I do. It doesn’t matter what the gold star is for, but I get one most days for something or other and that makes my inner Type-A Bronny very happy indeed.
So, that’s my epiphany: it’s not about work/life balance, it’s just about life balance. Living a gold star life is so much easier than trying to balance the imbalance of work and life, don’t you think?