I reflect on our distant summer travels, sitting on the beach, gritty and warm. The air is dense with the smell of salt as the indigo waves create a rhythmical pattern. Growth. Decline. Regrowth. Squabbling seagulls dart on the blanket-littered sand as I welcome myself to listen. The ocean’s pulsing heart is speaking to me as the water swells and crashes onto shore. Maybe this is how life is. I find myself getting caught up in continual need for growth and betterment, but maybe our lives should follow the ways of the waves, ebb and flow.
Buzz. Snooze. Buzzzzz. Okay, I have to get up this time. Responsibilities are waiting. The hot water rinses off the sleep as I quickly shower. I pour a large mug of coffee and head out into what seems to be the night. It is early and dark. My family is still fast asleep. On the hour commute that I could drive blindfolded, the word "provider" circles my consciousness. This word helps keep my mama guilt at bay, and I remind myself why I do what I do.
She gets up while it is still dark;
she provides food for her family.
The work day is a funny thing, like living in the balance. Oftentimes there is heartache from being away from my willful toddler and I feel as though I’m riding on the back of a snail. Periods spent envious with a swirling green tide crashing within me. He gets to spend the daylight with our son, my mind viciously licks. But contrarily gratified for their time together.
Other days are lightening speed brimming with emails, phone calls, meetings and deadlines—this momentum is my favorite. Regardless of the pace there is always an end. I pack up like a bag lady; get in my car for the second hour of reverse commute.
I arrive home just in time for the change of guard, except for without the colorful spectacle of the British pageantry. It is more of a rushed, "How was your day, what did the toddler eat for lunch and when was the last time the dog went out?" as I drop my work bags and husband swiftly runs out the door to his job. Then it is just my toddler and me for the night time hustle. Cooking, dinner, bath, stories and lights out. As I listen to my son talk to his stuffed animals in his crib for a few minutes before falling asleep, I settle in with my laptop to finish incomplete work.
Each week is rushed and packed full of work responsibilities and by the time the weekend rolls around, I am ready for connection, socialization and play dates. As I sip the last of my lukewarm coffee and my toddler plays, I tap out a text to a friend.
Play date before naps today?
Sorry, we’re heading out on the path for a family bike ride. Are you free one late afternoon this week?
No, sorry—I’ll be working. We need to find a weekend to get together soon.
Another text like all the others. Throughout the week the stay-at-homers mingle and now is their family time with their husbands who work. Again I find my toddler and myself alone in this ebb season of life that seems to have no end in sight, like when caught in the undercurrent of the ocean. The waves keep coming, harder, stronger and faster. Their pull has unimaginable strength as they drag me under. When will the flow come? I need to come up for a breath. I know flow is coming—it simply has to.
During these days turned months, I find myself with a heightened awareness of the ebbs and flows. This consciousness is a valuable element because as a family we intentionally squeeze out every extra bit, when there are bits to be had. On the rare days we have a little time together, we hurry to the park for one last swing and one last swift ride down the tall slide before the sun hides for the evening behind the towering oak trees. In these moments I see the flow, and know how blessed we are.
I find myself torn, spread thin, and feeling like I need to be better at everything all the time. But as one person, how can I be fully mom, fully career woman, fully wife, fully friend, and fully myself? There is just not enough time and simply not enough me. So I am painfully reminding myself that life is all about the ebb and flow. I surely do not have it all figured out, but I am learning how to lie on a raft in the waves and simply ride them wherever they may come.
There is hardship and there is joy. There is time with family and there is time to work. There is bitter and there is sweet. There is ebb and there is flow. This all creates a fulfilling and interesting life. As the years continue to mount on top of one another I am starting to comprehend that we would be desperately bored without the waves moving on and off the shore.
To you my fellow career mama who feels all alone in this—I am here, too. We are not alone in trying to figure out how to do it all. Let's remember grace. We are enough for all our responsibilities.
And I think we are doing a better job than we believe.
Guest post written by Kara Smith. Kara is a Chicago suburbanite trying to savor every moment with her husband, highly spirited toddler and Craigslist dog. By day she works in healthcare marketing and by night she loves cooking, and on occasion writing at ThePassionateParsley.com. You can also follow her day-to-day adventures on Instagram.