Sunday, July 21, 2013

Things this working parent needed to hear.

Sometimes I just need to listen, or, well, read. And tonight, as much as I wanted to work, I needed to hear these things even more.

First, Radhika Nagpal gives some excellent advice on finding balance as an academic who wants to be a whole person:
And in that moment it suddenly dawned on me what was taking me down. We (myself included) admire the obsessively dedicated. At work we hail the person for whom science and teaching is above all else, who forgets to eat and drink while working feverously on getting the right answer, who is always there to have dinner and discussion with eager undergrads. At home we admire the parent who sacrificed everything for the sake of a better life for their children, even at great personal expense. The best scientists. The best parents. Anything less is not giving it your best. 
And then I had an even more depressing epiphany. That in such a world I was destined to suck at both. 
Needless to say it took a lot of time, and a lot of tears, for me to dig myself out of that hole. And when I finally did, it came in the form of another epiphany. That what I can do, is try to be the best whole person that I can be. And that is *not* a compromise. That *is* me giving it my very best. I’m pretty sure that the best scientists by the above definition are not in the running for most dedicated parent or most supportive spouse, and vice versa. And I’m not interested in either of those one-sided lives. I am obsessively dedicated to being the best whole person I can be. It is possible that my best whole is not good enough for Harvard, or for my marriage; I have to accept that both may choose to find someone else who is a better fit. But even if I don’t rank amongst the best junior faculty list, or the best spouses list, I am sure there is a place in the world where I can bring value. 
Because frankly, my best whole person is pretty damn good.
Then, says work-life balance can bite me:
You know what I think my job is? Respond to life as it happens. Stop expecting balance.
Wake up. See what needs to be done right now. Let go of the idea that my life should carry on in some neat, systematic way and that someday I’ll be meeting all the needs of all the people all the time. 
As if someday my marriage will be totally equal all the time and my health will be solid (cause I’m exercising and eating a balanced diet) and my kids are thriving neatly (just as they should!) and my house is put together (but not too put together because one must not obsess) and I’ll go to work and “Leave it there” when I leave (cause one shouldn’t bring that stress home) and I’ll take my “me time” with my friends and husband (because mental health, people!). 
Or I’ll realize shit like that only happens in movies and self-help books.
Today I had one of those wonderfully "normal" and busy days that I feel jealous of whenever I see my stay-at-home mom friends' statuses. Today's activities included doing laundry and grocery shopping with the family, cleaning the house, making carrot cake granola bars and painting with the Little Bear, actually making breakfast (egg bagel sandwiches), lunch (roasted eggplant and zucchini pasta) and dinner (tofu, rice and premade saag panner), having family bubble blowing time, bathing Little Bear and then having her help me bathe Little Brown Dog, then reading stories and singing bedtime songs.
And then it came time to get to work, and I just... I couldn't. Luckily, I had the wonderful reading above.

I feel refreshed, and, more importantly, less alone.

Finding balance.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I love the picture! Great and happy shot!