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June 27, 2009

Work Life Balance?

I'm in bed this morning, trying to recuperate from a long week.

I decided to forgo any
attempts to make coffee and instead went straight for Diet Coke.

No chance of me needing to suck it off the kitchen floor with a straw.

And because I am still in a daze from the week, thrilled it is Saturday and that there are no
swim meets or mouthy 11 year olds nearby, I am eating breakfast in bed.

Cheeze Its.

I'm just too tired to eat much else.

Yep, it's me, Cheeze Its, a diet coke and the TV for now.

I knew my TV choices would be limited to Michael Jackson or Michael Jackson, but as I was channel surfing, I heard someone mention 'work life balance.'

I'm sure it was one of those morning news anchors who all look like former Miss America contestants.

Regardless, it got me thinking:

Whoever came up with that term either didn't work, didn't have kids, or didn't have a life.

Or maybe they had none of the above and were looking for it.

I'm sure they are still looking.

I've decided there is really no such thing as true work life balance.

Work life balance is sort of like a giant see-saw on a playground.

On one side is work, on the other side is the rest of your life.

And getting on that see saw is like being in second grade again.

Some girl who you know really doesn't like you comes up, and in this oh so friendly voice says, "hey, want to get on the see saw with me?"

Your first instinct is to run (this is second grade after all or your first instinct as an adult would be to tell her where to go...)

You cannot figure out why she is asking YOU, when there are so many other people she could ask?

For a brief moment, it seems like a fun idea?

For reasons you cannot explain until many years later when you are in group therapy, you gladly agree to get on the see-saw with this person, and not so deep down, you know exactly what is about to happen.

She gets on one side.

You get on the other.


She hits the ground and promptly sits there like sack of potatoes.

You, of course, sit 10 feet in the air, feet dangling, too far to touch the ground and get off this ride you volunteered for, knowing exactly what would happen.

And there is no way in hell you are going to call for help.

If you asked for help, everyone would know that you were crazy (or dumb!) enough to get on the see-saw when there was no chance, no chance at all, that there would be any fun or balance to that stupid thing!

No, I don't think there is really such a thing as work life balance.

Ask 100 women if they feel like they have really attained true work life balance, and 99 of them will laugh at you and say no.

And the last one will be lying and was probably a mean second grader.

You can strive for balance, but in the end, one of the items is always going to be the mean kid sitting on the bottom, holding you down.

While your feet dangle, and most of us refuse to call for help, the guilt builds and builds that you were silly enough to think you really wanted to do this, could do this.

Eventually, something has to give.

You either call for help from the teacher who looks at you like, "you knew this would happen, didn't you?"

Or, you beg the girl to let you down, off that horrible ride.

If she's nice (which she most definitely is not, or she would not have put you in this place to being with), she will slowly ease you back down.

But, if she's the way we know all know she is, you know what happens next.


She gets right off and you come slamming back down to the ground flat on your butt. Hard.

As she walks away, she gives you an evil smirk like, 'I can't believe you fell for that.' (That's okay though, 20 year high school reunions usually provide some sort of revenge.)

Off she goes to find her next victim.

Welcome to the see-saw of work life balance.

I don't think there are many opportunities to be let down slowly, and there certainly is not much balance.

We search and search for some way to find the happy middle spot on that see-saw, that mysterious place where everything evens out and one side is not dangling loose, and one side is not slamming to the ground. Somehow, we fool ourselves into believing we can pull off keeping both an employer and children (and a husband usually) fully content.

All at the same time.

And do it well.

I'm not sure if we'll ever find that happy medium.

If, fifteen or twenty years from now, Robert and I can sit on the front porch (okay, or maybe Sam's Boat with oysters and beer,) look back and say that we didn't have to bail anyone out of jail or send anyone to rehab, I'll be happy.

If the worst thing that happens is that my kids super glue their injuries closed without calling me first, or they fail to scrape the Wolf chili from the sinkand it starts to look like a biology experiment gone bad in my kitchen, we will be okay.

Until then, on some days my feet will dangle loose for sure, and I will stubbornly refuse to ask for help.

On other days, we will hit the ground. Hard.

In between now and then, Cheeze Its and Diet coke on Saturday morning in order to recuperate will have to do.

The see-saw might not be perfectly balanced and it probably never will be.

But it's close enough.


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