I worked full-time outside of the home right up until my second child was born {2002}. At that time, my husband was in a job that required him to travel 4 – 5 days per week. Every week. I remember quite clearly that the topic of “Work/Life Balance” was discussed in our household quite often due to his traveling work role. He was trying to find room for both in his life — as was I in mine. It always felt as though I was doing things half-way. There was guilt that I was leaving my kids in a daycare when I went to work. There was guilt that when I was at work I had to leave before everything was done, because I had to go pick them up. When I worked from my home office, I would feel guilty for stepping away from work to get some laundry done. When I would stop on the way to pick them up from daycare to run into the grocery store, I would feel terrible that my kids were there longer than they should be. There was no aspect of my life that felt “balanced” or whole. I felt like I was failing at everything.

And my house was a disaster.

I think work/life balance is even harder to achieve for Moms, because – by nature – most of us tend to be “pleasers”.  It’s hard to simultaneously please a family and boss/coworkers completely. To make it more challenging, women are (probably by design) more easily consumed by our kids’ needs than our male counterparts. Meanwhile men are typically better at “turning things off.” (Or at least that’s true in my house.) And so outside of the home work can fall by the waist side.

Here’s the thing. I really thought that by making the decision to stay home, I was solving the work – life balance issue for myself. How shocked I am, now 10 years later, to realize that it’s actually harder (at least for me) to find work/life balance now that I don’t “work” outside of the home. My work IS caring for my children and our home. My life is my work and my work  (all too often) consumes my life. My office is my home: the place other people get to go to turn off work and have some respite is where I work. There’s no escape from work for the SAHM. Never a change of pace.  It can make a person feel very one-dimensional.

For me, finding the balance – which I equate to defining myself outside of motherhood – has been even more challenging since I “quit” the work part of my life.  Finding my identity (in both our home and in society) has proven to be a constant struggle since becoming SAHM, because since that time my identity seems defined (by myself and by others) almost solely on my motherhood. Finding and maintaining our identity outside of our motherhood.. well, that is – in great part -what this blog is all about. (Though my first goal for this blog was to be honest about what motherhood really is.)

While I’ve taken the first few steps over the last few years to diversify myself beyond my motherhood work, (i.e. getting involved with my Alma Mater’s Alumni Association, running a triathlon, volunteering to publish the PTO Newsletter, running a half marathon, using scrapbooking as a creative outlet, etc.) I have come to realize that finding balance is a struggle that will be a constant in my life. As it is for every Mom.

And my house is quite often, still a disaster.

Advertisements