Balance is Impossible?
"A balanced life is often ridiculed as impossible--a goal that many have abandoned because it makes us mere mortals feel bad when we can't achieve it."
This is the opening line from chapter 3 in our book, Equally Shared Parenting. It is an acknowlegement to the common media perspective that the pursuit of balance is a joke. With all the job pressures, kids activities, and otherwise hectic pace of life these days who can afford the luxury of pursuing balance?
Well, Beth Teitell at Boston.com concludes in a recent piece that, "...the best advice comes from the unbalanced moms themselves. Asked if they had work-life balance, many let out a long 'ha ha ha ha.' In other words, when all else fails, laugh." In one sense, I agree that laughter can go a long way to make anyone's existence more enjoyable but I expect that many of these same women may be secretly crying if they have truly abandoned one of their main dreams, according to plenty of sociological data, so early in life.
What other ideals should we toss aside; equality, peace, love? I'm not ready to give up just yet! Yes, I agree with the author of the piece to ignore the perky tips to find balance but hopefully, we are ready to take a more serious approach. Nothing worth having comes easy. You want equality? Try sharing each of the main areas of a parent's life with your partner. Not to achieve some arbitrary division of responsibilities but because you believe in the value of walking in each others shoes everyday. You want peace? Try existing amicably with that unreasonable neighbor or ornery coworker. You want love? Try treating your spouse as the most important person in your life. If any of this sounds easy, you are a better person than I.
When it comes to balance, we have heard from numerous ESP couples that the first step is to hold onto the dream. The dream can help shape reality through a myriad of decisions. How much money do I need to be happy? Do I need more training to obtain more job flexibility? Do I believe that our children need to attend the best schools to be successful? How big does my house need to be to make my family comfortable?
I honestly don't believe there is a right answer to any of these questions but I also don't believe that balance will just happen regardless of the answers. We must own our dreams and walk confidently towards them. The goal here is a worthy endeavor summarized in the last lines of that same chapter 3 from our book: "By balancing your life, in concert with your equal partner's balanced life, you both get breaks from the occasional crazy days in any role. You share the load, the joys, and a full life in which--by your own definition-- you each have it all."
Again, if you think this is easy I salute you. Otherwise, I recommend persisting with the effort.