Bookending balance

MomsBalance
The author with her husband and 1-year-old son.

Balance. Talk about buzzword. Along with "journey," "mindful," and "growth," balance has been a word that pops up in every mom blog and growth app in the last few years. If it wasn't hard enough to find some balance as a mom before, Covid-19 has tipped the scales so far that they have turned upside down. 

In what may be viewed as history's biggest "duh" moment, even our partners have told us "I didn't realize how hard this was." It has finally dawned on society that teachers deserve to make billions. Some are just realizing that we cannot be expected to homeschool, work from home, and be a homemaker at the same time, let alone do any of them well. 

During the first two weeks of our quarantine, staying home all day was somehow both boring and overwhelming. Our son had his first birthday in quarantine, and has been joyfully living life at home with mom and dad all day. But by bedtime, toys were scattered in every room, food was smeared on my clothes and furniture, and between news alerts, texts, and Zoom meetings, my phone was requiring more attention than a newborn baby. 

Somehow a pre-corona day filled with school, work, driving, coats, diapers, packing, unpacking, classes, cooking, cleaning, preparing meals, and playdates was more manageable than these marathon days at home. Somehow, as someone who is always "go-go-go," the idea of "stay-stay-stay" was suffocating. I woke up full of intention (I'm going to bake a challah! I'm going to clean out my closets! I'm going to meditate!) and went to sleep depleted and defeated. But I was not going to mess with the idea of "stay home, save lives." 

During times of uncertainty, I knew that two things were certain: I was going to exercise first thing in the morning and I was going to have a goblet of wine at night. Whatever happened in between would fall into place. Cue the eye rolls-I'm not here to lecture on the benefits of exercise. All I'll say is that if you happen to talk to me before I get in my workout, it's akin to saying good morning to a coffee addict before their first cup. For years I have done whatever needed to squeeze in time for a good schvitz and a shower. 

Over time in quarantine my husband-also an avid exerciser-and I have settled into a routine, where we each get alone time to work out. Essentially it ensures that we remain in separate spaces until about 1 or 2 in the afternoon. Like most couples, we have never spent this much time together. 

We are both divorce attorneys. Between my career, marriage, and family, one lesson I've learned is it's important to let a lot of things slide. My mantra always has been "just because he is doing something different than I would doesn't mean it's wrong." This mantra is in heavy circulation in my head right now, but we respect each other's mental and physical space and follow our instincts about when the kiddo needs to be handed off. We sprinkle in work when we can, FaceTime our loved ones, zoom on Shabbat and at happy hour with friends, and try to accomplish one productive thing per day. 

So, where is the balance in all of this? It certainly doesn't come during the monotonous yet chaotic day. My scales are balanced by an hour of me-time in the morning, and my ritualistic glass of wine at night. As long as I consistently prioritize those two things, what happens in between won't throw me off. 

Sally Pissetzky Steele, an Israeli native, lives in Chicago with her husband and son. She is a divorce attorney who also teaches legal writing. She believes that kindness, a little magic, and gratitude make the world go round.

 




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