The Impossible Work Life Balance

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

February 18, 2013

Snuggly-fun

Snuggly fun while waiting for Daddy-monster to get home.

This post is written in response to a recent Anne-Marie Slaughter article, published in The Atlantic.

It feels like this, often. Even when I wasn’t working (outside the home). So, let’s cover the things I enjoy first.

I enjoy watching my son grow up.

I am thankful that I was able to spend his first three years of life at home, watching him crawl, walk, talk.

I am grateful that I was able to learn how he learns, with his observations, and his trying, and his silly ways.

I love watching his imagination bloom. I wish had a voice recorder at hand all the time (my iPhone isn’t with me every moment) to catch the silly things.

I love how his “story telling” voice is different from his “normal” voice (Once upon a time…).

My son is one of the neatest people I have ever met.

But, parenting isn’t born without its challenges. It’s hard raising a small person into a respectful adult. It takes time. It takes patience. It takes consistency. It takes persistence. It takes proactive notions to work with all those involved in his life.

And, that’s just raising one child. That doesn’t include nurturing the marriage, other relationships, the house, the food… and the career.

My son wasn’t planned, though every day he is wanted, and loved, and cherished. But, I didn’t choose this. I never thought I would even be able to conceive and an act of ignorance is blessed with surprise. I always wanted a career – to change the world – and because I never thought I could have children, I never seriously considered the joy or the challenges in raising one. I know I offered my mother challenges. I know she struggled, deeply, with the work life balance. I’m not sure my mother ever imagined a “career”, and as such, my mother chose a path that chose a job to pay the bills. It was hard. And, the path I am now on, an attempt at a career while being mother, is as hard.

Workplace flexibility, at my job, is limited. So, while my husband worked at his job, with no workplace flexibility, in the fall – I was the soccer mom. I was the one who had to leave work early to pick up my son to rush him off to soccer practice. And, work was unkind, saying things to co-workers but never to my face.

And, when I am the only one, because my husband’s work has (again) no flexibility, to take him to dental appointments and other health related things, I have to get it pre-approved, instead of just taking care of my family.

When I was staying home, it often felt like I was choosing housework And, to boot, it’s an unfulfilling job.

The choices seem impossible.

I want it all. I want to change the world, and get paid doing it. I want to be there for my son, my husband, and my community. I want to have quiet time for myself so I can make sense of it all.

And, where I am stuck is in finding a career that will honor my divergent needs and interests.

Where do you struggle in the work life balance? What do you love about parenting? Where do you find your joy?

 

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