Today I laid on a blanket in the park and read a book*. Alone. I didn't say one word for 2 hours. I used to do this before I had kids all the time. I stared at the bark of the tree next to me. I watched a bee on a flower. I wasn't pulled at, jumped on or asked to do anything. I didn't have to mediate a fight over a toy, play Lego or clean something.
Being a Mom is all consuming. It's them before us, almost always. After four years of the scale being tipped completely over to the side that the kids are on, I'm feeling the pull of the other side. The ME side. I need to find a balance. I can't go back to work full time, that would feel like the scale had tipped all the way over the other way and I would would be off balance again.
Is work/family balance an illusion? Why is it easier at the extremes? For me I've either been a career women who works 9-5, M-F all year long or a stay-at-home mom. It seems those are often the two choices. But there has to be something in the middle, right? I have to find something in between those things. Something that is flexible and fulfilling, something where I can use my brain and creative skills but also still feel connected to motherhood and my children. I guess the middle ground for me is freelance, entrepreneurship, running a personal business.
It's why professional blogging is so appealing. Writing is creative. It's flexible. It can be anything. I can write about motherhood, about painting, about designing. I can make things, I can do different things, I can write about it. I want to be successful at something. I want to make something great. But can I do it? Do I have the same ambition that I had? The same hunger and drive? Do I have the time? The energy?
I need to be away from my kids to do this. Can I wait until they are both in school? Can I find someone I trust and who is reliable that I can leave them with for at least 10-15 hours a week? Can we afford it until I am successful enough that I am making money?
Right now, when I get a precious few hours alone, I have no desire to work. All I want to do is relax, rest, be alone and quiet. Fill up that place in my brain that likes to be lazy and daydream and drift. Maybe when that place is filled I will find some passion to create something. To write in a more disciplined way. To write about the undefined fabulous things that I could make if only I had the time, the passion, the energy.
And then what of my marriage? That's been neglected too. I need to fill that back up, find a balance between family time and couple time. But that's easier. Spending time alone with my husband isn't hard. It's just a matter of making the time at night and on the weekends. Turning off the computer and the TV. But even though it's easier, it has to come after the alone time, I need to take care of myself first.
We love our kids. Of course we do. They ARE love. They are the manifestation of love. Love for your mate. Love for yourself. But then somehow they take all the love. And it's okay most of the time. Because they need it more than we do. They need it to grow. But we can't forget to take a little of that love back. For ourselves. For our mate. We need it too. We still have some growing to do, just not as much, not as fast.
*The book I was reading is Rosecrans Baldwin's first novel You Lost Me There. It's a great book. You should read it too. In it, the main character reads index cards that his wife wrote about changes in direction in their marriage. This concept, of writing about a change in direction, inspired this post.