Balance Backwards

In the span of a year, I became a mother, stepmother to three, and a wife.

Work-Life Balance is backwards

Work-Life Balance is backwards

It was a happy jumble, but a maelstrom, a whirling dervish and a heart pounding collision of roles and perspectives. Helpful it was not — according to every blended or step-family resource I consulted — that the stepmother typically has the very hardest role. I had a husband, a newborn, an 8 year old, a 10 year old, a teenager, hubby’s lovely maintenance-deferred house, an ex-wife and a microwave that didn’t work.

I regained my balance through work.

Typically when we talk about “work-life-balance”, what we mean is there is not enough time for the life part. The minutes of the day are gobbled up with deadlines, emails, presentations and maybe office politics, so much so that the dog goes hungry, permission slips go unsigned, we forget our anniversary. And the guilt. Oh, the guilt. And not the sneaking Godiva chocolate kind of guilt.

My job was my savior. I felt in control. I knew what I was doing. I was competent. There weren’t constant interruptions of children wanting things from me or dust bunnies lurking in corners. I was in control of my time. There was acknowledgement for a job well done or a presentation well-executed. When was the last time anyone said to you: “I really appreciate your attention to detail,” when you took out the garbage?

And now it turns out there are actually benefits to children for having a working mother. According to a recent New York Times article, there are economic, educational and social benefits for children of both sexes. A new study of 50,000 adults in 25 countries:

• daughters of working mothers completed more education
• were more likely to be employed and in supervisory role
• sons of working mothers spent more time on child care and housework

Another study that looked at 69 studies over 50 years, found that in general children whose mother worked had no major learning, behavior or social problems and tended to be high achievers in school.
Not surprisingly, in the US, much of the attitude about working parents depends on whether parents were happy with their childcare and need the income.

Of course, regaining one’s balance through work is a very personal matter and is dependent on a variety of factors. But hopefully the angst that pit working mothers and stay at home moms will abate as we understand that our kids can be just fine.

I adore all my kids and love the family we created, but I needed the work balance to stay sane, in order to be present for them, and to see my way through.

And because work wasn’t apparently enough balance for me, I started a part-time MBA program as well. Who knew that Economics 101 could seem like a vacation!

Photo credit: Shutterstock

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