Academic Leigh Speaking

A professor, four kids, and a crash course in work/life balance

Work Life Balance Failure November 1, 2012

Filed under: Academic,Childcare,Family Life,Totally Me — leighj @ 12:52 pm
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When I started this blog (weird, I usually make everyone celebrate my blog’s birthday, but I forgot this year), I was going to write about balancing my job and my family (and myself, I suppose). I’m returning to that theme today.

Yesterday, I had a particularly frustrating moment of feeling like a failure. I had gotten to work at 8:30, and I had a meeting from 10-12. The meeting went until 12:30, at which point a colleague suggested going to lunch to continue a conversation. I had to get back to pick up S & G at 1:00, so I could get them home, get them down for a nap, and work before Patrick got home. So I said, “No, I can’t do it today.” I felt some judgment–maybe it was in my head, as in me judging myself.

I know Patrick’s dad would have watched the boys longer if I had asked, but we had already stayed with them for 24 hours due to the storm and power outages. I needed them to get home and take a good nap. I went home, put the boys down, and I worked from 2-4:00 when they woke up and Patrick came home. We talked about dinner, trick or treating, and the boys’ day. I raced out of the house to go back to the office from 5-9:30.

Here’s the deal: I missed a meeting (not a huge deal, because I’m having it today); I missed trick or treating (not huge, because I took the boys to Halloween fest last weekend); However, these events together felt like a massive failure as a mother and a professor. On the other hand, people, I worked 10.5 hours yesterday, spent 4.5 hours of quality time with the boys, and barely talked to Patrick, so who’s really losing out here?

Most of the time, I feel like I can do it all. Then I butt up against something that just says, “No, you can’t.” I’m sort of over it today, but the feeling lingers.

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3 Responses to “Work Life Balance Failure”

  1. Heather Says:

    You’ve always been great at balancing Leigh. I’m amazed at what you have accomplished in the last few years…raising two boys, finishing your Ph.d, getting a sweet job, and the list goes on. Stop fretting wonder woman!

  2. Bob Says:

    You can’t do it all, but then, nobody can. You do a lot. Sometimes some things require more of us than other things or times. Balancing isn’t static; it requires movement. It often feels more like teetering.

  3. Linda St Clair Says:

    You might be able to have it all eventually; but to do that you have to live a long life and live sequentially. By that I mean you set priorities and circle back and pick up some lower priority stuff at a later point in your life. Now, I will admit that sometimes you do miss stuff. I put off needlework too long and didn’t count on deteriorating eyesight and finger dexterity. But guess what — it didn’t break my heart that I never got around to it. I just substituted a different art form that didn’t have the same requirements. And that art form (theatre) uses skills I didn’t even possess in my late 20’s when I gave up on needlework. Don’t forget that you don’t have to be perfect at everything you do — no one can be. You can cram more stuff in your life at the same time if you lower your standards to “good enough”. And if you are less stressed because of “good enough” instead of “perfect” everybody else in your life can breath easier.

    And — other women will love you more because it takes some of that pressure to be perfect off them too.


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