When my son Ryan was six weeks old, I left him with a caregiver and cried hysterically all the way to the airport for a business trip, work bag and breast pump in tow.
I was the primary breadwinner for my family, and we were feeling the additional expenses of a new house and parenthood.
Trip went great and during the one hour flight back home, I calculated that I'd have just enough time since my last pumping session (in a public airport bathroom stall) to make it home to feed my new baby.
We landed on time, and then we sat on the airport tarmac. For an hour.
I thought I was about to explode. FAA regulations prevented me from leaving my seat to head to the privacy of the bathroom to pump. And so, on my first business trip since becoming a new mom, I pumped on a completely booked flight in front of strangers.
I can still remember the whirring of the breast pump, trying to cover myself with my suit jacket, and the uncomfortable glances of the businessmen around me.
Given the size of my gigantic new mama boobs, I should have blown them a kiss and said, You’re welcome.
It can be overwhelming to juggle both family and career. I know this because I also live it as a single parent. There have been a number of high profile businesswomen referenced in the media who have been asked how they're able to achieve work-life balance. I'm not a fan when they respond that it's doable.
There are too many of us who don’t relate to the seven figure salary, fully staffed “role models” that we're supposed to be inspired by.
There’s no such thing as work-life balance.
It’s hard as hell. And many days, you may feel like you’re failing at everything. Those are the days when you’re late getting the kids to school, late for the client meeting, late for the project deadline, and late paying the bills. Sleep is a luxury, your patience has met its tipping point, and you need a caffeine intervention just to keep up.
And then there are the good days.
These are the days when your children hug you and say they love you for making their one class presentation midday, mid-week. This is when you sign that big deal and the commission allows you to pay for the dance and karate classes…or a special family vacation. These are the days when you get to actually finish a cup of coffee before you leave the house.
I have yet to work for a company or come across any thriving business and watch it function in a state of balance. You're running the most demanding corporation. It’s called Life. It can be messy and stressful and chaotic, but also rewarding and beautiful.
So let’s take the added pressure of creating balance off of our plates, and let’s just be at peace with doing the best we can.
On those days when I feel particularly overwhelmed, I close my eyes, click those virtual ruby slippers, pat myself on the back for what I’ve accomplished so far, and open up to the potential of the amazing things I may not be aware I'm still capable of achieving.
Most importantly, I hug and kiss my loved ones whenever I can, because at the end of the day, there’s no place like home.