The other night, I found myself baking cupcakes at midnight.
I promised my son that along with the special treat bags and Valentine's Day cards we made for his classmates, he could bring in chocolate cupcakes for everyone, too.
Of course, our weekend was so busy that the only time I had left to bake was at midnight, and I had to get up the next day at 6 to get ready for work.
The perfect work-life balance is intangible, in my opinion. It's an elusive phenomenon that we grasp at, but one that keeps sliding from our hands, like a slippery bar of soap.
Should moms put their careers on hold and stay home to raise their children? Or work outside of the home to help support their family? There is no perfect answer, and everyone has their own unique situation.
The one thing most of us have in common, though, is the constant questioning."Am I doing the right thing, staying home?" "Should I really be working full-time?" "How can I do what I love, get paid for it, and be actively involved in raising my children?"
I work full-time outside the home. I work because I need the money—I have a little shopping addiction, you see. I work because I enjoy getting getting dressed up every day and driving downtown. I love working in a nice office building, and I love the luxury of drinking my Starbucks in peace at my desk, reading my emails and planning my work day. I love that I can shop, do my hair, or meet up with friends over the lunch hour. I get a lot of done during this time, allowing me more quality time with my children when the work day is done.
There are a lot of benefits to working for the federal government, but it's not a job I'm totally passionate about—I'd rather spend my time writing, working in the media world, or being home with my children. (Or, fine, shopping.)
I was recently offered a radio job anchoring and reporting. Although I do want to get back into the media world again, I didn't accept the job because leaving the comforts of the government isn't a risk I want to take yet. Trying to balance work and life and passions is extremely difficult, and so is making the right decision for me. There are always a million things to consider, and of course, there is the feeling of guilt.
Being a working mom means I don't spend as much time with my children as I'd like to. I used to think that when I had children, I would be the one driving and picking them up from school, going grocery shopping during the day, going home to cook, writing in coffee shops, and then sitting down with my family to a home cooked meal around the dinner table every night.
That is how it was for me, growing up. Coming for a Greek family, dinner time was of the utmost importance, and we'd never miss a night to sit together, eat, and talk about our day, followed by homework and extra curricular activities, like dance class, guitar lessons, and Greek school.
I am thankful that my children receive the best care there is while I am at work. My mom, my in-laws, and my grandmother all share the baby-sitting duties.
Every day, someone comes over in the morning and I kiss my boys good-bye and leave for work. At five o'clock, when I pick them up, I have dinner served to me, because by then my boys are starving and, well, coming from a Greek family, dinner is always ready by five! Cue the mommy guilt!
When I'm rushing to work, or standing in line at the coffee shop, I notice other moms with babies in their strollers and my heart aches. Moments like those make me wish I was at home with my boys, enjoying the simple pleasures that each day brings. It's funny how many moms you notice when you're not with your children—in restaurants, walking to and from the office, in the mall.
Every time I catch a mother's eye, I smile, wishing I was in her shoes.
Perhaps she's wishing she could also trade places with me, too—maybe she's had enough of changing diapers and dealing with tantrums for one day, and would love the luxury of drinking just one cup of coffee in peace.
It seems we'll always want what is on the other side.
I look forward to Sunday night because I know another work week is about to begin. Cue mommy guilt, again. But come Monday morning, the good-bye hugs to my children are extra hard.
It's a constant struggle, trying to find the perfect balance. All I know is I'm determined to make it work. Sleeping only five hours a night is something I've gotten used to, anyhow.
How do you find your perfect balance?
I wrote this post and then found out that it was also one of the weekly writing prompts over at Mama Kat's!