Why does that lady have a computer, Mommy? Is she playing games?
I looked up and smiled at the little boy, only to be greeted by the disapproving gaze of his mother. She glanced down at the MacBook Air on my lap, the coffee balanced between my thigh and the side of the chair and then to her son as she helped him remove his shirt. As I l looked back at the Word document I was editing, I heard the telltale sound of a perfectly executed cannonball in the pool.
That’s about the moment I realised I hadn’t even seen my son get in the water, much less taken in any of his lesson from the sidelines. I glanced around until I spied him, bouncing up and down in the water, oblivious to my obliviousness.
I tried to shake my mummy guilt as I took another sip of my coffee. I had 13 minutes before the swimming lesson wrapped up and I wanted to finish what I’d started. I continued typing, responded to a few emails and sent a few instant messages through our office messenger app. And then, with just a minute to spare, I packed my laptop in my work bag, finished my coffee and prepared to towel off my little fish.
I take a lot of pride in my work and my work ethic: I like my job and sometimes, I have to take it home with me. It’s not ideal, I know, but it’s reality – maybe not for everyone, but for me.
My reality is working through swimming lessons since I can’t join him, anyway. It’s working in bed, like I am now, while my son reads quietly in his room. It’s eating in a hurry so we can get to bed on time; doing laundry at 4 am because we ran out of socks. My reality is working from home all week because he’s vomiting; it’s leaving work a little early because I promised him we’d have a date before dinner; it’s trying to balance my life as Mom and my life as Ashley.
It’s a mess, and I’m exhausted but it’s amazing and I wouldn’t trade it.
I remember when I used to think I was going to suddenly find the magical solution: that I’d achieve this incredibly peaceful balance. Now I laugh when someone asks me how I find the balance they think they see. There’s no balance here… just a lot of love, coffee and a few well-placed, whispered curse words when we’re 25 minutes late. Again.