Sunday, March 27, 2011

Balance

While looking for a new job after the girls were born, a friend of mine (a guy) and former co-worker made a comment that has stuck with me to this day. As a last resort to bring home a paycheck, I was contemplating a return to public accounting. My friend was still working at the firm I had left in 2001 and was a great resource for me.

In an attempt to avoid some of the crazy overtime hours, the firm was willing to offer me a reduced schedule. I should note that working a reduced schedule meant that I would be working approximately 40 hours a week. Yes, that is reduced.

So as all of this was going on, my friend said to me, "A common complaint around here from working moms is that they have trouble balancing work and home life." He provided me contact information of some working moms there who said that they would be willing to speak with me.

It all ended up being a non-issue as I was unable to accept the job offer due to a conflict of interest (aka an investment.) Months and months passed and I was finally offered a job with a private company. Now that I have been working full time for almost three years, I can tell you that finding that balance is difficult no matter where you work.

Is it possible for a woman to find success as a full time employee and a full time mother? Are you really a full time mother if you are a full time employee? You are still a full time employee no matter what. How does a mother find harmonious balance?

This is my current struggle. Well, it has always been a bit of a struggle but now it really seems to be rearing its ugly head. I feel pulled in four different directions at once and it is draining. It is stressful. It sucks.

So when I'm frustrated and upset about what appear to be trivial things*, it is because I don't have balance.

*List of trivial things:
  • Kids rolling around on the bathroom floor while I shower for work.
  • Kids fighting on my bed while I try to get dressed and dry my hair. For work.
  • Having to go up and down the stairs 5 times in 15 minutes at bedtime.
  • Sewing three birthday skirts only to find that they are really too big and need adjusting. And I'm almost out of matching thread.
  • Discovering that my idea for birthday shirts isn't going to work.

(This isn't about finding a new job. I don't want a new job. And in my field of work and at my level, you can't work two days a week.)

10 comments:

marie said...

I just wanted to offer my reassurance to you that yes, you are still a full time mother even when you work full time. No one would say that your husband was any less of a father because he worked out of the home to provide a living. You are providing a wonderful life for your girls and part of that includes their going to school and being able to have precious time with grandma. That isn't to say that your income is more important than your presence, but the choices you are making are not harmful, and your girls would thrive either way, your working is about your well being and not theirs. If it still brings you pleasure to bring home a paycheck, and then come home to your wonderful girls, there's nothing wrong with that.

-future mum, still trying to figure out the balance.

Chantel said...

I work part time (3 days a week) and I still find balance to be SO stressful. The days I am home, I am getting calls about work, worrying about work. And if the kdis are sick I feel guilty for missing work because, heck, I only work three days! It is still hard to get out the door those 3 days. I am returning to work full time in August and am stressing about it. I think you would still stress about trivial things even if you were home all the time. You would still be frustrated with bedtime, you would still be upset that all your work in sewing you had to redo... that is just life. Everything we get upset with is situational. It is hard to get them out of the house during the days I work, it is hard to keep everything running smoothly the days I am home with them. I get stressed at home, I get stressed at work. I think it is just the life of work, be it at home or not.

Hope's Mama said...

I'm a full time stay at home mum and have been since Hope was born (yes, even though I had no baby to care for, I still took the 12 months leave I was entitled to). Things are so different here in Australia, and while we barely scrape by each week on just one income (and Simon is a nurse, not a banker or doctor or anything with a very flashy paycheck) we do somehow manage. It would be easier on our family if I did work, financially speaking, but Simon and I both decided that if we could do it, I'd stay home.
Being a full time SAHM is full on and some days I miss working full time, but I'm also aware of how lucky I am to be at home and I'm in awe of any mum who can spend any time working outside the home. It must be such a huge juggling act.
So my hat totally goes off to you, Sarah. I don't know how you do it. Just thinking about it makes my head spin.
I hope you can find the balance you crave some day.
xo

ps: just thought I'd share what I recently heard was one of the main differences with our countries - Americans live to work, Australians work to live.

Spazmaticme said...

I found this post very interesting to me. I can only imagine how you feel.. I only have one child and I have been struggling working 4 days a week 10 hours. =( I just feel like I could be doing so much more during these hours of the day. Its not about balance to me..Its really about mom guilt.. Yes my child stays with his gma too and she would probably go crazy if she did not have them, but my selfishness wants him to myself and if possible right now I would quit. Good luck and hope you find the balance you are looking for!

Spazmaticme said...

I found this post very interesting to me. I can only imagine how you feel.. I only have one child and I have been struggling working 4 days a week 10 hours. =( I just feel like I could be doing so much more during these hours of the day. Its not about balance to me..Its really about mom guilt.. Yes my child stays with his gma too and she would probably go crazy if she did not have them, but my selfishness wants him to myself and if possible right now I would quit. Good luck and hope you find the balance you are looking for!

Colleen said...

I can relate. I am a full-time lawyer and mom to two little ones. I work 4 days in the office and commute usually two hours a day. on friday I work at home in the morning and am then off.

It's a struggle finding that balance but I do love what I do. I also have very understanding bosses so I feel that helps alot.

rachael said...

New follower... interested in your work/childcare situation?!

Colleen said...

I stayed home for 3 years after my son was born (he has SB) so I could attend to all his needs and therapies, and I had another baby. I made the most of my time at home, but it certainly wasn't balanced. Because I stayed home, my husband had to work very long hours. I enjoyed time with the kids, but no adult interaction drove me crazy. Now I'm back at work full time, and it really is very difficult to manage doctor appointments and therapies and someone being sick and needing to work late sometimes. I just figure, we are women, and we are expected to do it all, and we're always going to feel guilty about it.
A friend once told me, "You can do it all, just not all at once." So when I needed to focus on my premature baby with SB, that's all I could do. Now, I balance work and home as best I can, but I am not going to stress about not making a homemade cake for birthday parties or having to miss a little work for a sick child. (Well, I do stress about that.) We do the best we can!

Sarah said...

I see that I'm not alone. I know that staying at home isn't a cake walk either - there are other balance issues there as well.

Sally - Rich and I hate that most of America is that way. I think it is turning but we probably won't see a difference before we retire. Can you believe how short our maternity leaves are?

Rachael - I work FT outside of the home. My mom watches the girls while we work.

Mommy, Esq. said...

I've been thinking a lot about this since winning the lottery doesn't seem to be panning out. I've decided to come up with a "perfect" schedule - if I could what would I do - how much time at work/home/self. I figure it could be a guide and an aspiration. Now I actually have to write it out... :)