by Deanna Cogdon Miller
"Well, back to reality."
Those are the words I found myself saying to the man next to me as the plane wheels touched down on the runway tonight. After a day by myself in Ottawa and then a weekend with seven girlfriends at a stagette at Tremblant, life has seemed a little surreal for the past few days.
Most notably is how much time I've had to think. This large amount of uninterrupted time to let my brain wander wherever it wanted to go has led me to the conclusion that I'm in the middle of an identity crisis. Who am I? Wife? Friend? Daughter? Sister? Colleague? Marketer? Writer? Cousin? Aunt? Volunteer? I'm actually all of these things but I've realized that when the role of parent is added to the list it makes it increasingly difficult to find balance.
The word ‘parent' brings a massive list of additional roles along with it. As soon as a child enters your life you suddenly become a teacher, a protector, a story-reader, a feeder, a play companion, a schedule manager, a healer, a personal stylist, a worrier, a nose-blower, a chauffeur, a tooth-brusher and a middle-of-the-night-cuddler (among other things). And if you have more than one child, you are all of these things to more than one person. It's no wonder work life balance is becoming increasingly important to working parents – we really are doing our best to be everything to everyone.
I struggle with it.
My kids are my priority and I try to embrace all of the roles that come with having kids. At the same time, I love what I do for a living but understand that in order to progress, I'm going to need to invest more off-work hours than I am putting in now. I volunteer with the YWCA and have great intentions when it comes to helping out but never quite follow through as much as I'd like to. I have friends and family that I'm good at keeping in touch with and many more that I've been meaning to call for ages and just haven't picked up the phone yet. My passion is writing and I'd love to get into freelancing but haven't set aside the time to figure out where to begin. And don't even get me started on exercise. I could go on and on but the point is that the ‘to do' list seems like it's a mile long and never gets close to finished.
So as I reflect on this weekend and the time I spent thinking about all of the roles I play in my life and all of the things I don't get done, I realize that I just have to let it go. True friends and family understand why you're out of touch, organizations appreciate any time you can give and maybe being at the very top of my game career-wise isn't as important to me as I once thought it was. What's important is that I'm healthy, my relationship is strong and my family is taken care of.
At this stage of my life I can only do what I can do and I need to be satisfied with that. I've decided that it's time to stop worrying about everything I'm not getting done because it is literally impossible to be everything to everyone. What I can do is focus on being everything to my ‘little' ones and in reality it's only fair since they are everything to me.
Deanna lives in Dartmouth with her husband and three children. When she's not reading stories, dancing to ABBA or burping a baby, she works in communications for Bell Aliant.