My kids are on their electronics as I type this, and I wonder what time is appropriate to open a bottle of wine on a Monday night. (Okay, it’s only 1:57 p.m.)
We are into our third week of no school during the “holiday break,” and with my clinical schedule, school schedule, “other work” schedule, and mom schedule, I am silently laughing at the word “balance.”
A while back, my friend, Dee, shared with me my new favorite saying: “There is not work life or play life, there is just living.” Or something like that.
Women especially are judged (and judge) for a lack of “balance” when it comes to family and work. However, I am not sure what number everyone thinks is balance…60/40? 70/30? 50/50? The other popular saying is: “It doesn’t matter the quantity, so long as it is quality.” Okay, got it. I will stare lovingly into my child’s eyes, with no interruptions, for 90 seconds. And, I’ll ask if they feel secure and accepted—and then, after gaining positive affirmations, I’ll jump back on my laptop to finish my dissertation. (Sorry…”Sarcastic Sally” jumped in. Is it time for that wine yet?)
It’s not about balance. It is about seasons.
In my 25-plus years of working outside of the home and having four children, I can attest that there are seasons in which my family life has overcome my work life—and vice versa. A season of newborns is about finding sleep, looking for baby wipes (not for the kid, but for your armpits, in which case you will be deemed “showered”), finding tiny-sliver moments of solitude and restoration, and probably not showing up 100 percent (or even 80 percent) in any job, schooling, or other commitment.
A season of “all kids in school” means you might have more time to shower, more time to research, and more time to show up outside of the home. There are divorce seasons, single-parent seasons, starting-a-new-job seasons, self-employed seasons, part-time seasons, home-school seasons, sickness seasons, and many more innumerable seasons.
Sometimes, my season looks like me not attending my teens basketball game because of a late client appointment. Sometimes, my season looks like me turning in something late, so I can drop everything and play Connect Four with my eight-year-old. Seasons are gauged, depicted, and determined by your own intuition, circumstances, and choices.
Now, before anyone’s panties gets in a bunch, this is in no way saying that other things should be prioritized above the health, security, and love of our children. Or, just as importantly, for ourselves. If you feel that anything you are doing outside of the home is or has become detrimental to yourself or your family unit, then a new season is due—a “change of priorities” season.
This also isn’t about women working or not working. That is a personal choice, and we should honor the choice of every woman (and man). Parent or not, we are still sacred individuals with a longing and desire to do good works; and the good works—whether inside or outside (or both) of our home–are valid.
This is about embracing.
What we resist, persists—as Carl Jung, popular psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, offers. When we complain and assign shame or guilt to ourselves during a short-term season of chaos, we further perpetuate it. We feel awful, tend to get physically sick, and find ourselves in a state of depression, anxiety, and tumultuous stress.
Instead, we must embrace the season. Embracing the season means shifting our perspective. One way to do that is by praying or meditating—affirming that we will be equipped with exactly what is needed during this time. It is surrounding ourselves with the right tribe mates who will be supportive and optimistic. It is taking the time to find gratitude, even in the midst of hell, for as many things as we can.
It is even about being grateful for the chaos, as that gives us contrast—and without contrast, it is much harder to appreciate the calm and smooth seasons. It is also about offering ourselves grace each time we get angry or assaulted with guilt and shame. It is about offering grace to others who seem to not appreciate the space and season we are in—although, more than likely, they are simply acting out from their own place of guilt and shame.
It is about love. Love for ourselves, for our family, and for humankind. Knowing that this love is what connects and supports us all, through all seasons.
(And, it might be about wine.)
Cheers to your season—may you embrace it fully.
Author: Shannon Jamail
Image: Unsplash/Mahrael Boutros
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy editor: Travis May