What The Hell Is Work-Life Balance?

by Beth Curtis
Originally Published: 
work-life balance working mom
baona / iStock

Ah, work-life balance. What the hell is that? It doesn’t matter if you work from home, go to an office, travel, or are a stay-at-home parent—all of that shit is work. Hard work. And, it’s also your life considering how much time you spend doing it. So, how is this deemed “work-life” balance? It’s probably a concept that some corporate folks made up to try and make you feel better. (I should Google its the real origins, I suppose, but does it really matter where it came from?)

In any case, here we are trying to navigate some kind of work-life balance when really that balance is just a see-saw with an elephant sitting on one side (work) and a feather sitting on the other (life). And with elephant in tow, we move forward. Sometimes you feel like you are doing really well in this work-life balance space. Everyone is happy and thriving, bills are getting paid, some splurges are being made, and everything is awesome.

And then this happens:

One day you go to pick up your 5-year-old daughter, and there is a lovely bulletin board for Mother’s Day with the theme “My mom is…” All of the kids have pictures up that they’ve drawn so nicely with flowers and whatnot and some of them read: “My mom is beautiful,” “My mom is a princess,” or “My mom is the best in the whole wide world.” You look for yours with anticipation and excitement and yours says, “My mom is a worker.” Yup. A worker!

Then, all of your hopeful thoughts about work-life balance go right down the toilet as you look for a corner to curl up in so you can cry like a baby. Of course, the lovely director tries to console you as you stare in disbelief and let out some uncomfortable laughter, and she assures you that no, that’s a good thing; she knows you’re a hard worker. Yeah, okay. That is definitely not how it felt. It felt like a punch in the gut. But you know what? You have to put on your big girl panties and move forward. You hug that little apple of your eye and tell her that it is the best picture you’ve ever seen and you love it…and can’t wait to throw it out…I mean hang it up, when you get home.

So, there it is—the work-life balance. We work hard, and our kids do see that. And we do it for them. So, it’s not all bad, right? Whether we choose to stay home or work outside the home, or work in the home and send them off to school or day care, whatever the case is, we are all working, and we are all trying to balance, and we all love our kids.

But at the end of the day when they want something—because they always want something—and you are exhausted, it’s OK to say, “I’m sorry honey but Mommy is tired from working, commuting, running 100 errands, doing laundry, cooking dinner, giving you a bath, cleaning up and overworking her brain for the day. So if you don’t mind, my beautiful offspring, while I am happy to be close to you after this long day away from you, I’m going to sit here and catch up on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills while you play Minecraft, watch creepy Shopkins videos, or play and try to not kill one another.” Mommy loves you. No really, she does.

That’s work-life balance.

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