The Beautiful, Messy Juggle

Wednesday April 10, 2019

The Beautiful, Messy Juggle

This working/parenting juggle is not for the faint of heart. Even as I type this blog post on our dining table, I’m pausing to hand Haley little nuggets of a bran muffin and encourage her to take another sip of milk, to acknowledge the “bur!!” (bird) in the sky that she’s enthusiastically pointing to. Naturally, I’m a day behind schedule, scrambling to write this post while I should be getting ready for work, because this little lady decided last night was the perfect opportunity to fight sleep until 11p. And naturally, my husband worked the late shift.

It’s a juggle. An all-at-once joyful, fulfilling, exhausting, imperfect juggle.

I’m reflecting again on the rhythm of our family’s life as we transition to daycare twice a week. Are we rested? Adjusting? Connected? Fulfilled? It’s also been a constant mental pushback against so many messages I’ve subconsciously/consciously absorbed about how motherhood should be done. Some of the hardest to undo:

Why have kids if you’re not going to raise them? and,

Your life is over once you have babies. and,

Don’t blink because it’ll go by so fast.

The reality is that there is no universal, one-size-fits-all formula for raising children or creating a vibrant, intimate family culture. These messages may ring true for some, but they can also make parents (and particularly women) feel like having a career or passions outside of mothering are superfluous, even selfish, pursuits - that mothering and working must be an either/or choice rather than both/and. It excludes families who may not have a choice about childcare and quietly condemns all the women who feel equally called to be mamas and nurses or designers or zoologists or financial advisors. 

The gift of childcare has felt a bit like swapping out one of these balls we’ve been juggling with an orange: we’re still juggling, but one of the balls is now nourishing us. Sometimes raising our kids well means entrusting them with wonderful people who can offer certain experiences even better than we can. It means intentionally carving out time for our own fulfillment, making sure that our lives are running parallel with our children’s, rather eclipsed by them. It means modeling a passionate life so that our daughters have space to dream big dreams and our sons recognize the multifaceted strength of all women. It also means remembering that, yes, it does go by fast - both their little lives and yours. Mamas, let’s not lose ourselves in motherhood only to look back in bewilderment at where all the time has gone, wishing we had remembered our enrichment is as important as our babies’. How beautiful that as they’re growing up, we are too.

honoring the village it takes,

For more reflections on this working mama juggle, some thoughts on intentional mornings here, running a business with a toddler in tow here, protecting rest here, and my postpartum upheaval here