The Balancing Act

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There’s Tree Pose. Eagle Pose. Half Moon Pose. Handstand. 

And then there’s the ultimate balancing pose: Balancing work and motherhood.

I’ve fallen too many times to count. I’ve come down with flus and breast infections when struggling to teach, make a book deadline, and care for my son (nursing included) with too few hours of  help a week. I’ve cried, gotten angry with my husband, checked my email when I should have been cuddling with my son.

I’ve fallen down on the other side, too. I’ve let myself put my work aside for too long–ignoring my writing, ignoring the part of me that needs to be out there in the adult world–and focusing solely on motherhood to the point where my child and I both suffer rather than benefit from my there-all-the-time-parenting. When I give all of myself, and have nothing left for me, I’m just not as present a mom.

We all have different formulas that work for us. I know women–wonderful mothers, brilliant women–who have gladly (or grudgingly) gone back to work when their babies were weeks or months old. I know women–wonderful mothers, brilliant women–who have decided to leave their careers (for the time being, anyway) and mother full time.

Whether we work at home or outside the home, as mothers we need to fill ourselves up. Without nurturing ourselves, the balance can’t work.

For me, nurturing myself means yoga. A weekly class, a morning practice, a way of being–or trying to be. It also means seeing friends, taking dog walks, reading books, spending time alone with my husband.

And for me, I’m realizing, it means working. Writing. Maybe teaching again, in one form or another.

Lucien began preschool last week. After an (extremely!) gradual entry, by the end of the month, he’ll be there for three hours a day, Monday through Friday. That, plus two hours a day with his babysitter, will give me a not-seen-in-years four and a half hours a day of work time.

Lucien and I will spend mornings and late afternoons together–we’ll still have time for our library outings, and playground sessions, and swimming pool adventures–but in between, from 10:30 to 3, I’ll be home working on my new book and on freelance assignments.

The perfect balance is elusive. Perhaps non-existent? But, just as I keep working on my balance poses, I can’t help but continue to seek out the perfect (for me) work/motherhood balance.

 

Jessica Berger Gross is the author of enLIGHTened: How I Lost 40 Pounds with a Yoga Mat, Fresh Pineapples, and a Beagle Pointer (Skyhorse). She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia with her husband and three-year-old son. “Like” her author page on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter @jbergergross. Visit her at www.jessicabergergross.com.