Fun fact No.1: Today I took off Caleb’s diaper, and he scampered off while I was looking for another one. I turned around to discover that he had pooed on the floor.
I had to call in the big guns (Jon) to take care of that fiasco.
Fun fact No. 2: Long overdue, I bought some new clothes for Caleb, mostly for the incoming fall weather, but also because he’s long outgrown most of his current clothes. He’s pretty normal sized except he has a very large head, and while it’s pretty funny watching him grunt with triumph and joy when he gets his head through the neck hole, I was getting worried one day I’d have to cut him out of something.
I vastly prefer him to wear onesies basically all the time because it’s easier for me, but clothing companies make less onesie options and more “real clothing” options the older the babies get. In my desperation, I purchased this “unisex” night gown sort of onesie. Upon receiving this, I’ve discovered it looks more like it was made for a certain gender (not Caleb’s).
This is all to say that most days, it’s a little chaotic over here, and things occasionally fall through the cracks. We’re a pretty long shot from figuring out what that perfect work/life balance is. Customers ask what that strange sound is when Caleb is babbling into the mouthpiece while I’m on the phone with them, we’ve got stacks of boxes of inventory waiting to be counted and organized, and just today, Jon and I had bacon sandwiches for lunch, the cornerstone of nutrition. I’ve got a few blog posts clogging up the pipes that I’ve been meaning to churn out, but it’s been a bit of a crazy week. Right now, it’s almost midnight, Jon is snoring on the couch, the dog is snoring on the floor, and the baby is snoring in his crib.
We’ve got some projects and big tasks to put in place, but it’s all a matter of the seconds and minutes and hours. I think asking for more hours in the day is kind of like those urban planners who say putting more lanes in a highway doesn’t work because more cars come to fill up those extra lanes.
Now that we live just behind the shop, I don’t know if we have a better or worse work/life balance. On the one hand, we have the possibility of being more effective with our time – there’s no going back and forth between the shop and house, there’s no forgetting things or having to transport things around, but on the other hand, the line has gotten so blurry so as to almost be non-existent. It’s sort of like the twilight zone, where it’s 11:30 pm and it’s dark and hazy out and we’re trapped in this packing area, surrounded by boxes and ink bottles and terrible fluorescent lighting, and time has stopped. We just need some tinny elevator music.
So, taking it from someone who’s been back and forth on the seesaw, and whose baby calls the dog “dada” and me “uugghhhaaa,” here’s what I’ve learned about striving for a work/life balance:
- Appreciate the little victories, like Caleb spending 20 minutes lost in a box of bubble mailers, or a surprise unearthing of a can of WD40 to de-squeak the hinges on Caleb’s bedroom door, so I can sneak out silently.
- Even better than the magic bullet? The rice cooker. I only ever used my rice cooker to make rice before Caleb was born, but I have now steamed vegetables for the baby, made congee and soup, cooked oatmeal, and even prepared (gasp!) bubble tea. All this while bouncing a baby on my lap and answering emails. I’ve got a recipe for refried beans I’m planning on trying; even though the thought of refried beans sounds kind of gross to me, apparently it’s a very tasty dish.
- You have to give on a few things. Sometimes you’ll miss a phone call because you’re changing the baby’s diaper, and sometimes the baby will eat an old Cheerio off the floor.
- Eat dinner together. It used to be that we would aim to eat around 6:15, after Jon closed up the shop, but with customers who run late, if Jon ended up staying later, I would go ahead with feeding Caleb first, since his bed time is 7:00, but now we wait and we eat together. I guess it’s part Caleb growing older so his bedtime is more flexible, but it’s also really nice to end the day together.
- Working hard and hustling is important, but not as important as life. In fifty years, I don’t want to look back and say “I checked my e-mail at all hours of the day” – I want to say “I was there when Caleb pooped on the floor and I was also there when Jon cleaned it up. I wish I took pictures but I was too shocked.”
- You make sure you can call on someone you can laugh with. Whether’s it’s laughing with the baby because he’s got a bowl on his head and really enjoying it, or with Jon because the delivery guy came with 14 of the 15 boxes in a shipment, and the 15th box that will be coming tomorrow has all the goodies I ordered for myself.
A work/life balance is elusive and mysterious, like the Loch Ness Monster or how they make Chicken McNuggets. Maybe it’s impossible – but you try, and you hope to have some fun while you’re doing it.