With Baby Bump D on the way in November and our gorgeous Rachy now 4, going on 30, life is definitely interesting. Severe morning sickness means that like with Rachy, I will stop throwing up only when I deliver Baby Bump. Work is extremely exciting right now with some awesome developments requiring extra effort and time and Hunky Hubby is probably wondering when we’ll get to go on that date that is 5 years overdue.
We arrived back in South Africa almost 5 years ago. I was 6 months pregnant. Trying to balance the new country, job hunting, Hunky Hubby moving to SA – away from his family and the new role of mummyhood looming was too much and the stress led to pre-eclampsia. This combined with the severe morning sickness meant baby Rachy was born at 36 weeks and had to spent a week in NICU. I felt like a failure having failed at the scale game. I battled for years to “balance”, counting hours spent with each person I loved, and weighing work hours against that.
Now, fast forward 4 years and although more enlightened, I am still struggling. My daily routine looks something like this. After the morning madness I prolong the moments as much as possible before dropping Rachy off at daycare, praying that she is not the first child there. Then it’s off to work to innovate, implement and fix – and like most corporate mum’s – trying to position myself not as a woman climbing the ladder but as a formidable player and asset (irrespective of gender) in the land of ladders and kingdoms. Then, after a full day, its a mad dash home to fetch Rachy – praying again – this time that she’s not the last child there. Once home it’s off to the kitchen to prepare a fresh dinner for my princess whilst coordinating arts and crafts time or dress up fun so her attention does not drift to the TV (mummy guilt). After dinner, bathtime, storytime and warm milo it’s off to bed for sleepy head and on with the laptop for me until 11pm when Hunky Hubby gets home. Then it’s wife mode, over-compensating for such little time together, we sit side by side sipping coffee and chatting until I crawl into bed after 1am. Then it’s the 3am bathroom break with Rachy followed by cuddles and tucking in and a “nap” until the day officially begins.
Now, I love my life, my family and job but I’m exhausted and honestly, slightly annoyed at times because I barely recognise this new me – let alone having time to get to know her! Baby Bump D has also added to this resulting in the Gynaecologist, Dr Knows-Alot putting me on bed rest for a week and a half. I ignored him and was back in his office after 3 days complaining about not being able to balance everything. He asked me to go home and throw away my scale and that made me think more clearly. I recently read an article that asked woman to count the number of times they touched their partners in a day (holding hands, touching their cheek,etc). The healthy number is 12-15. I was averaging 4, now we are up to 16 touch points a day and it has made a world of difference. So, if I could change thst – I could change this self-inflicted pressure!
Progress has been occuring slowly, I also made some huge choices last year (to allow for better quality of life) like changing my job. My new position is still super demanding but the difference is that the company I chose (yes chose) does value family commitments and the human aspect of corporate. My soul feels more at ease and decisions of whether to rush to my child with a high fever or stay for fear of being replaced is now resolved before it even arises. I eliminated negative energy and people and made peace with not pleasing everyone all of the time.
So, I am throwing away the scale and refusing to set myself up for failure by reaching towards an ideal that does not exist, and is not achievable. There is no such thing as work life balance, w ehave to create a balance that works for us.
My solution? I have made peace with the fact that my house will always looks like a mini hurricane went through it, Rach will have at least 1 Saturday of “as many YouTube videos as you like” so I can lie on the couch with her and watch cooking shows or CSI while catching up with phonecalls to friends or just re-fueling. Hunky Hubby and I will continue to steal moments together while our work and family commitments eat into our alone moments and we will love each other through it. I chose to sit right next to him, instead of cuddling with a blanket on my own couch. I stand next to him whenever I can and hold his hand when we shop for groceries. I made those moments add up. Quality of moments vs quantity of time!
Take time out for yourself. Leave your laptop alone on most days once you come home, or limit your time on it. Do not make or take work calls after work hours, unless absolutely an emergency. Read, crochet, watch your favourite show instead of washing the dishes and fill your cup so you can fill others.
Embrace the new you – Hunky Hubby has finally realised that the jager-bomb drinking, carefree pirate princess he met 11 years ago has evolved into a wife and mummy who works hard to still be fun and awesome – and once I accepted this, he did too! No point in trying to keep alive a memory that will never materialise (well, maybe occasionally, but definitely not long term)!
Enjoy the moments, live life in its current unbalanced version and adjust accordingly. Apparently change continues until your youngest is 18, so buckle up – it’s more manageable when you stop policing yourself! You will always give more in one place than the other depending on the day, the hour, the moment. Prioritisation (and keeping those clear and constant) is so much more important than the balancing act!
Ps: I’m taking that week off as well, Dr Knows-Alot will be proud!