The Unbalanced Life

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“You should think about gainful employment,” my mom says to me as I sit on the floor, legs stretched out, my youngest clambering all over me.

“Someday I will, I say…” and let the pause linger. I am tempted to justify my decision. My mind goes back to the October when I finally made the call to quit. The sense of relief I felt was overwhelming.

“If you delay too much, you will not be able to find the kind of work you want,” her voice intrudes into the pleasant feeling that has enveloped me.

“I know,” I say lazily and focus on the kid. There is truth to what she says. Gainful employment will someday be on my cards. Right now, this feels right. I am coasting along, dabbling in writing when the mood strikes. I cuddle up with baby in the middle of the day, tracing her nose, playing with her as we feel asleep together. I sit with my twins each day, sorting through their files, setting out homework, nudging, helping and pushing them to finish it. Life is idyllic.

I stumble on Indra Nooyi’s latest piece on Facebook. I skim and the words form themselves in my head, in front of my eyes “All this talk of balance is bullshit. We prioritize what we want to do. It is the guilt or lack thereof that we term balance.”

I realize it is true, at least for me. As a full time working woman, a new parent of twins, also working on my part-time MBA, I seemingly had balance. I made fresh food, I spent as much time possible with the twins. I stayed up late at night pounding out 10 page assignments. I spent weekends preparing for tests. I felt e.x.h.a.u.s.t.e.d. But, hey! I had balance. I was a full time working mom who had it all.

Five years later, when I chucked it all to do what felt right, the guilt clung to me for a few days and then clarity dawned. I will never have-it-all, so why bother? This time, I shoved the balance to the side and owned my unbalanced life. I am financially dependent. I take care of the home. I take care of my children. I take care of my spouse. I write when I can. I am happy. It is lop-sided, but it feels right.

Perhaps, two years from now, when the baby is a pre-schooler, I may find the urge to find something that works for me. When I do, the only thing I promise myself is that I will own that life too. Without guilt. I will outsource the things I can. I will only commit to the things I can. I will forget balance and focus on what makes sense at that time, for me, for my family.

I think the time has come for us women to let go of the guilt, the ideal of balance and own our lives, the way it feels right. Here’s to an unbalanced life! Cheers!!

11 comments

  1. Spot on! It’s the mom guilt I’m trying to get rid of – rather than find the magical balance. My husband’s life is wonderfully balanced, because he lives without guilt. Our work/life and home chores and kid stuff is split almost in half but I carry the extra burden of mom guilt – the guilt I feel that I birthed the same time as my daughter. One day my emotions will catch up to what I know in theory to be the right ‘balance’.

  2. I have to work. Don’t have a choice. Need the money for me when I can no longer work! Wish I could let that go and spend time with A knowing he does need it more than many other kids around.

      • I do feel guilty about not being able to spend time with A cos I have to have money later!! Can’t spend time when he needs me around so I can be alright when he does not 😊

  3. Bang on! I’ve heard women try to do it all and then it is not a balance. It’s just too much for one person to handle. Do what makes you feel good. Whatever you think is right!

  4. Guilt is so overrated. Beats me that moms have it, of all people – we do so much and are pretty irreplaceable in our family’s lives. Guilt for not doing more? What?!

  5. “There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.”
    ― Alain de Botton

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