Striking balance between work and family

  • Saturday, April 12, 2014

It took me more than two hours to clean out my fridge and freezer last week. I don't want to talk about the level of disgusting that was going on in there. After I emptied every drawer and threw away unrecognizable leftovers, I went to the grocery store for the first time in months.

I'd run into the store for a loaf of bread, milk, or a carton of eggs, but it truly had been months since I'd gone to the store with a list and a menu plan for the week. I bought fruits and vegetables – real food – and cleaned and cut them up to store in my newly cleaned fridge.

I dug clothes out from under the girls' beds and washed them. I took three-inch stacks of papers out of their school folders and read notes from their teachers.

After several months of working like crazy, I spent last week re-acclimating to being “Momma.”

The girls were confused when they came home everyday to a clean house.

“Where's Mrs. Velma?” they asked, assuming my favorite helper had to be nearby because I am clearly incapable of cleaning my house.

“What's for dinner?” they asked, their mouths dropping open when I actually had an answer that didn't involve take out.

When you are “The Momma,” a lot of times you feel like there is no one standing behind you to take up the slack. I can't even imagine how it must feel to be a single parent. But I'm so fortunate, because over the last several months, as I immersed myself in work, my house and my children's lives didn't have to suffer.

Ole Zebulicious stepped up to the plate and made pancakes and ponytails to let me sleep in if I had been up all night writing.

My mother came to stay with me for a couple of weeks while Zeb traveled for work – the two of them worked together organizing meals, picking up the kids, extracurriculars and making sure I had eaten. Then there was Mrs. Velma, my angel sent straight from heaven who does, in fact, clean my house better than I ever could but who more importantly, fills my house with positive energy and wouldn't let me get discouraged.

I am so beyond thankful to have a support team that has worked with me to allow me to pursue my career, but last week, I celebrated my return to motherhood with real food for my kids and wearing my pajamas in the carpool line (in the afternoon).

Working parents all struggle to find the balance between work and home, the job and family.

I personally don't think that balance exists without backup. While I was on the work end of my teeter-totter, my mom, Velma, Zeb and Madeleine, my babysitter, all sat on the other side to keep me from crashing and burning.

I've spent the last two weeks really enjoying being the Momma, even the parts that would normally make me cringe: cleaning out the fridge, organizing closets and getting up early to pack lunches.

I've loved being able to spend time with the girls without worrying about a deadline hanging over my head. But this week I hit the road for my next book tour, and I'll be rallying my troops to fill in for me while I'm gone.

To all of you working parents out there – I hope you have good folks on the other end of your teeter-totter.

Robin O'Bryant is an author, humorist and speaker. Her latest book is “Ketchup is a Vegetable and Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves.” Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter and visit her blog at www.robinschicks.com.

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