What standard of reasonable work-life balance am I supposed to hold myself to if these high-powered women are considering themselves leaned out? I think I need to find a whole new set of vocabulary for works hard, but apparently not that hard, because although I thought I was sort of maxing out, I just read that article by that "leaner outer" which made me feel like I was actually a total slacker.
So even over here in slackerville, I can tell you that I get by most days through a carefully choreographed series of tradeoffs. I sort of feel like an overweight woman trying to squeeze all of her jiggly bits (work, kids, self, husband and the poor, neglected dog) into a too small time corset such that the stays keep bursting and there are some unsightly bulges forming at the top and bottom. It doesn't feel pretty and I know it doesn't look that pretty (Its been a while hasn't it? said my hairdresser last week while fingering my 6-month old roots).
But enough of the pity party. I am fully aware that I am only doing what a gazillion other people do every single day, although probably with more help and significantly less grace than most.
By choice, I currently get paid to work about 30 hours a week, although I probably work more like 40 - the remaining 10 happen at nights and on weekends (i.e., on my own time) and therefore are largely invisible in the execution, but show up in the work product. By doing it this way I limit people's expectation of when I will be in the office and available, and I have the luxury of spending Friday with myself and with my kids. I get in a good workout; I do some errands; I volunteer in my daughter's kindergarten class; I pick my son up early from day care and spend the afternoon with my kids. I love this schedule. It makes being a working mom a little more manageable, and leaves me feeling a little less guilty on the nights I work late and don't see the kids.
The first two words of the above paragraph are the key ones: By choice.
If I am brutally honest, I think why these lean in / lean out / tradeoffs articles get to me so much is because although I can point to some things that would clearly be significantly different in my life if I did not have kids (e.g., inny belly buttons, number of movies seen in a year, bank account balance), I have a sneaking suspicion that my life would not actually be that different than it is today in the aspects that measure which way you have "leaned". While it is convenient (and true) to use my kids as justification for my career choices, it is also pretty clear that I was never going to be an Olympic athlete or the CEO of a major corporation anyway. Even when I had no kids that I had to pick up from day care, I wanted a job that afforded work-life balance and wanted to leave the office as soon possible to do one or more of the 47 extra-curricular activities I was involved in. Even when I wasn't recovering from two pregnancies and C-sections, I was never the natural athlete that some of my friends are.
My kids aren't why I am not a "leaner inner". I am why I am not.
And sometimes that makes me grumpy.
And then sometimes, like when I see the note that my daughter wrote while she waited for me to finish a meeting last Friday: I like Anona because she likes to participate in my classroom, it makes me so very, very happy.
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