Thursday, August 6, 2009

Stop the madness!

Life is just hectic - and I'm not sure why. Oh wait, yes, I do know this one. I have a toddler. And a full time job. Both of these are good things - but they are squeezing out pretty much everything else, save occasional errands and my husband. Friends have been relegated to Facebook and Twitter, and face to face contact with anyone I don't a) live with or b) work with had become a rare and exotic occurrence. Which, frankly, sucks. And forget hobbies - the art that I love and can't find time for. The craft projects undone. Blogs unwritten - it's all falling away. And this is SO not cool. Don't get me wrong, I get the life balance CONCEPT, but the practical application part is where it all collapses.
There's also some portion of the fast. cheap, and right theory that ends up applying. Since the Hubble is going back to school full time, we are on a bit of a budget. A lot of the 'tips' designed to help a working women achieve life balance assume a certain amount of disposable income - hiring a mother's helper a few times a week, having meals delivered regularly, outsourcing the day to day basically. Good in theory but not practical to the pocketbook. Daycare pretty much cleans out the disposable income category.
Mercifully, the Hubble is generally a rock star and helps out tremendously with the Bean and around the house. But school is starting back full time in a couple of weeks and even that help is going to be less available. So how to do it? How do you do it all?
The bottom line is, you can't. That's what no one bothers to tell woman - that this bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan crap is just that crap. There are inviolable limits in the real world - things take time, and time doesn't expand. (Well, unless you want to get all string theory, and I just don't have the brain power to even consider the implications.) Mother's kill themselves chasing the impossible dream of having it all - and then getting confused and frustrated and resentful when they seem to never be able to achieve this 'balanced' state. What they don't realize is that there are simply too many things to balance.
Working full time means that during the week, I get very little time with the most precious knee-high creature in my life since she's zonked by 7:30. That means weekends are all about family time. Which in turn pushes out friends and me-time. And all of these are vital to me being sane. So what to do?
The past year and 1/2 have forced me to come to the conclusion that to achieve this mythical work life balance, you have to give things up. Maybe just for a day or a week or a year, but you can NOT have it all, and you will drive yourself batty trying. Many women give up work for a a couple of years, so they can focus on their child. This has a bunch of pros and cons, but for me, it's moot. With the hubs in school full-time my income is it. It's all good because he's building a future for ALL of us with his new degree. But it does mean I have to be a 'can't lose' employee at work, which means zero slacking allowed. So working ain't going anywhere, but the other pieces and parts that make up a fulfilling life, friends, time with the little one, time with the Hubble, time for ME, those parts can bend and move and twist. And bend and move they must - time to start giving it up, cause I can't have it all - at least not all AT THE SAME TIME. So with that mind set, I've started the horse trading.
This weekend, I'm going to have some over-night friend time (a high school reunion/birthday event), and in 3 weeks, a girl's weekend. A couple of weeks after that, I'm taking 7 days off work, and the Hubble, Stinky Bean and I are going on vacation together. So I'm trading family for friends, then I'm trading work for family. The art - my personal passions, those I'm still working on - what do I swap for those and when, but I know I'll find some time, sometime. Ultimately, it's a shell game - there's never enough time for everything. But, if you are able to say 'not now' there is enough time for SOME things.
So ladies - you can't have it all, all the time, at the same time - but over time, with some juggling and compromise and a serious resetting of expectations - you CAN have an awful lot of it...
screw this bringing home the bacon and frying up in a pan crap - the new marching orders? I'm going to have my bacon and eat it too - so there.