Yesterday, while riding the kids train at the zoo with my daughter, I had an epiphany: there is no such thing as balance.
This may seem strange, and maybe you guys already knew this and nobody let me in on it? But for years and years I’ve been striving for balance. Notably, balance between my personal and professional lives or, as is now commonly referred to in our society, work-life balance.
But as I pointed at horses and sheep and llamas from the train with her, I realized that there’s no such thing. When I’m balanced with my daughter, it’s because I’m not doing something at work. Or with my friends. Or emailing/texting/calling basically anyone. Or watching Narcos on Netflix. Or cleaning out the closet I’ve needed to clean out for a month. When I’m balanced at work and really in my stride, I’m not with my daughter. Or my husband. Or my friends. Or watching Narcos on Netflix. I’m not reading the books that are piling up on my Kindle and I’m not visiting my parents, sister, niece, or friends who live far away. When I hop on a plane and visit them, I’m not usually with my daughter or CB, or at work. Or watching Netflix. And dammit, that closet is still a mess!
I really don’t have balance in my life much at all.
And that was the most FREEING concept to wrap my head around, you guys. I don’t have balance! Hooray! Finally! Now I can stop striving for it and just relax. Ok, well, I can’t really relax because I’m not great at truly relaxing, if you must know, though you probably do, because you’re not new here. It stresses me out to actually relax. I’m definitely forgetting something and JESUS, I really need to get to that closet sometime soon. But I can at least stop striving to have this elusive “balance” I hear so much about.
Like, I had to travel to California for work last week and decided to make a 50-hour trip into a 36-hour one in the Golden State so that I could get home and go to the zoo with my daughter, team up with CB so he wasn’t chasing a 15 month old around for the entire weekend on his own, and wake up at 5:30am to start my Sunday with these two crazy nuts. It was supposed to be a trip that for sure allowed for some downtime in between two and a half days of meetings, room service, and laying horizontally in a king sized bed all my own until well beyond 5:30am.
But before my balance epiphany at the zoo, I had a little chat with myself a few weeks ago about priorities and figuring out what’s possible and what’s important to me.
What is possible is moving some meetings around so that I could have a pretty jam-packed Friday and Saturday and get to the airport in time to be home before midnight in New York on Saturday. What’s important to me is seeing the look on CB’s face when I came through the door close to midnight when he thought I was coming home 15 hours later. What is possible is making those 36 hours count and not dwelling on how I’m flying cross-country twice in two days. What’s important is hearing my daughter yell “mama!” when she saw me in the dark at the crack of dawn the next day and started yelling and rolling around on the bed (sidebar: that’s how she expresses joy. There’s usually a lot of random yelling and LOTS of rolling her body around, so don’t be alarmed.) What’s possible is taking care of my second, albeit more chill, daughter in utero even though I’m trying to make this all work out. What’s important to me is that I succeeded in doing so – and even gave her a few fruits and veggies while I was at it!
What wasn’t possible was seeing anyone I love who lives in California while I was there for a day and a half. What wasn’t possible was meeting that one author who wanted to – and only could – meet on Monday, who I actually felt guilty telling “no” to and then ended up chatting with at the meeting anyway because we ran into each other. What wasn’t possible was reading any book on my Kindle because I was no joke TIRED. And what wasn’t possible was getting a seat on the plane next to anyone but the man who smelled like wet raccoon and literally took my plane snack from the flight attendant and didn’t pass it down to me. He just ate both instead. All of those things weren’t possible, but that was OK because, as the llamas taught me, there’s no such thing as having it all, there’s no such thing as balance. But there is such a thing as being present in the moment and really thinking about what you need, want, and what’s possible.
And what I really wanted this weekend was to have some great meetings and then watch my daughter absorb her first trip to the zoo, enjoy some delicious chocolate ice cream, and read her a book on the couch while she snuggled into me before bed. And I wanted to collapse into bed and laugh with my husband about our crazy lives. And then I really wanted to watch some Narcos. All of which I did. And so….maybe my life is pretty balanced after all?
DAMMIT! The closet. Ok, no, it’s not. I was right the first time.