Friday, September 12, 2008

Work Life Balance and other Impossibilities

This week has really put me to the test. Every time I'm faced with sick-kid scenario, I find myself questioning everything about my life, the validity of my job, my value as an employee, and most of all, my worth as a mother.

I got a call from the daycare on Tuesday noon-ish that mini-man had woken up with a fever of nearly 107 degrees. I immediately packed up in the middle of lunch with a friend, threw my laptop in my bag and ran out of the office. I took mini-man to the emergency room only to be told it's probably a viral infection and to just give Tylenol until it goes away. Other than the fever, he seemed perfectly normal... not even a runny nose. Anyway, by Wednesday morning the fever had broken and he seemed almost back to normal. I tried working from home that day as best I could, but eventually had to get out in the afternoon if only for a walk to the pharmacy and a stop by the little playground near our home.

Working from home with a 2 year old is next to impossible. I think all those people out there who do this regularly either have a nanny in the house or they're not getting a lot done. Every two minutes it's "Look! Mommy look!" Or, "I need help!" And, yes, everything is an exclamation. All I can really get done is look through my email, send a few files here and there as people request, and delegate a good deal. Microsoft Outlook Web Access is awful and times out every 10 minutes or so it seems; it doesn't allow me to open an attachment without saving it first to my local machine and then opening it from there, which adds time to everything I do. Furthermore, half my working files are actually sitting on my network at work, so I can't access all the things I usually can.

I really have a hard time with this. I really take pride in being very good at my job, so when I can't do it to the best of my abilities, I get really down. To make matters worse, I have some kind of deep seeded issue which makes me want approval from everyone around me, so God forbid I let anyone down. You might as well tie bricks to my feet and throw me off a bridge. Incidentally that's the same reason I do all sports alone... I hate the possibility that I might slow anyone down, so I just do what I do by myself. So being out of the office is hard. I know it puts extra pressure on the other members of my team - both above and below me. Being a perfectionist doesn't help either. In many ways it's what makes me good at my job, but it also will likely send me to an early grave.

When my head starts spinning about how ineffective I am in my job while taking care of the most important blessing in my life, I start questioning my worth as a mother. Why do I worry so much about work... shouldn't my head be on this little man I'm tasked with raising - teaching to be a human being? What am I teaching him? Am I teaching him that work is more important than family? Am I teaching him that a person is supposed to spend all day in front of the computer or the TV? Am I teaching him that he's not important enough?

When push comes to shove, my family is more important than my job. There, I said it. If you were considering asking me to work for you but you changed your mind when you read that, fine by me. I really do strive to find a balance in my life... balance between solo time, family time and work time. I need time where my family gets my undivided attention. I need time to hang with friends and time to exercise and play music. I need time to live my life and time to share it with others. As it is this week I ended up skipping my measly two workouts I usually fit in so that I could spend additional time working when big-man came home to occupy mini-man, but I can't and won't dedicate my life to a cubicle.

Now mini-man isn't cleared to return to daycare until Monday, so we're making the most of it...

Yeah, he looks real sick to me.

I'd love to hear how other people are achieving this somewhat elusive work-life balance I keep hearing about... especially working moms. How do you do it?

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1 comment:

Kirsten said...

Okay, so the balance thing is hard. I face it every day too. And I am not sure if there is a magic answer or not.

HOWEVER, I do think that you are shaowing your mini man that life is life. There are ups and downs and that you have to make alterations as you go. By going home and being with him, you once again prove that his is the priority.

For me, working makes me a better me. Which makes me a better Mom. Sure, if the money was there I wouldn't work as much as I do. And if I didn't have to leave at times to deal with kids being sick or a school function that happens within work hours - well then I wouldn't be checking my email at 10pm. But that is balance. So take a deep breath, and don't worry so much. Life is too short to bother with the worrying part.