This is the third entry in “I Don’t Know How She Does It,” a series of guest posts about the working mom/stay-at-home dilemma. It’s written by Elena Soninno, the founder of Ciao Mom and Just.Be.Enough. Italian by birth, a mom, a teacher, a wife, a runner & triathlete, and a cancer survivor, Elena strives to carry the extra weight of empowerment and self-confidence through her writing. She started Just.Be.Enough. last year in the hope of inspiring women, parents, and children to believe in themselves.
I met Elena at BlogHer in 2011 and I remember feeling like I had met someone who would make a mark on mankind, and she is getting started. As a matter of fact, she is heading to Haiti this week to participate in a Bloggers4Haiti trip with the Heart of Haiti trade program.
Schedules, appointments, commitments, reminders. For me. For my daughter. For my husband, and sometimes for my ex husband. Finding balance as a full time working mom (or any other type of mom) means keeping track of a lot of moving pieces.
Finding balance means keeping track of the who, the what, the where, the why, and the how…every single day.
Waking up before 6:00 I find myself wondering. Is my daughter sleeping in her room down the hall? Or is she at her dad’s house? Who is driving her to school? Do I have a meeting that I have forgotten about? Sometimes I even have to stop for a minute to think, is it a school day or a weekend morning?
My balance, or attempts at balance, is enabled by technology. Yes, I check my email when I wake up, with my iphone in my hand before my eyes have fully acclimated to the morning light. But also? I open my calendar. I need the visual reminder. Every single day. If not I risk forgetting.
The technology that of course, has also added to my list of things to think about. The technology that eventually led to my virtual life. The life of Ciao Mom and eventually Just.Be.Enough. The technology that I think about missing during the day when I am teaching and try to catch up on during my thirty minutes of lunch at my desk between lessons.
My working day ends with a jarring transition as I sit ready in the parking lot right behind our departing buses, so that I can get home with a minute to spare before my daughter’s bus pulls up along side the road. Unless of course I have a meeting, in which case planning sessions, telephone calls, and email reminders are put in place so other arrangements can be made. The questions start to fill my mind again. What time is piano? What did we plan on making for dinner? What posts do I have to write for the next day and which emails do I need respond to before momentum is lost on whatever the topic might be?
There are days that I picture myself on a spinning piece of playground equipment. Getting off and going forward in whatever direction I landed.
The trick (and the challenge) is to be fully committed and present in whichever part of my day I find myself. The truth is that I am not always good at this. If I am at school, I wear my teacher hat. If I am sitting next to my daughter as she does her homework, I wear my mommy hat. The hat that sometimes infiltrates my being present is my blogging hat. My blogging hat is like a chameleon, being blended in or squeezed in here or there, although I have been trying to find dedicated time just for those hats.
Sometimes I even have to leave a hat on the shelf for a while.
Sometimes there is just no time in my who, what, where, why, or how.
My problem is that I thrive on challenge. I stand taller when there are obstacles to overcome, or new hats to make work (hopefully with success). So my “what” list might be a bit longer than it should. There mere fact that I am here, writing this post, is the result of adding to my “what” list the day that I started blogging. Conferences and an increased social media presence, and even freelance work adds to the list. The how of making all those pieces moving forward is testament to taken on more than I can chew while working full time.
But it works….because I remember that it is ok to be enough. It is ok to remember that on some days I might forget. On some days I might not be able to get to everything.
It has to be ok. Prioritizing….every day, sometimes throughout the day. Being enough, whatever hat I am wearing, and trying to keep track of the who, what, where, why, and how. Because if nothing else, I have to be at that bus stop each day.