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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Striking a Balance

For years my work and home melded together as one.  Shawn's work and home life flowed just as seamlessly.  Somewhere him and I met in the middle and struck a happy medium.  Now that Emily is here, especially now that she is a loud and rambunctious toddler, things aren't melding as easy, especially for me.  

Shawn is married to the fire department just as much as he's married to me.  I knew that going into a relationship with him years ago that he would have to spend a lot of time away from home for his job, much of it from an unexpected call when the pager goes off.  That wasn't an issue.  If he ran off for a call and I had obligations elsewhere I could just tend to them and know that at some point Shawn and I would end up back home together.  Freely, I could excel at my work, dive into projects, and focus on my own career without limitations.  Then I became a mom.

A mom who's married to a firefighter.

A mom who's a nurse that's married to a firefighter.

A mom who's a nurse that's married to a firefighter living far away from any family.

That's presented a fair share of complications over the last year and few months.  In a marriage like ours someone has to be the one who decides to default and be there for the baby.  Someone has to make sacrifices, despite the difficulties.  That someone has been me.  I would never think of dampening Shawn's drive on the fire department to stay home for family obligations (baring important events, of course).  Its what makes him happy and when Shawn is happy I am happy. That's just who I am. 

So, Emily and I spend a lot of time together, which isn't a bad thing.  In fact, I love spending time with her - of course.  She's about the most amazing human being I've met, but I think I am genetically programmed to think that.  Either way, despite her lack of any intention to, Emily often puts me in difficult spots.  I sometimes have to pass on doing things for myself, for work, and doing things things I enjoy.  I have to set boundaries.  No longer can I simply do whatever I want or jump to save the day like I might be inclined to.  There are lines in the sand that without them existing my family would not function as it does.  

I'm fortunate enough to have a wonderfully healthy and happy little family unit.  The strife of friends, coworkers, and patients I  routinely see makes me appreciate what I have.  There are so many problems out there in the world and it isn't easy to keep them at bay.  It takes a lot of work.

It takes balance.

My hopes are that people understand why these lines are so hard to draw, but so necessary.  They also don't mean I am not any less engaged or eager about the things I do, but have to set limits on.  Would I like to work more, come in earlier or go home later sometimes?  Sure!  But who then would pick up Emily or be home to wake her up?  Would I like to do more photography?  Sure!  But who would spend time with Emily while I take the photos or edit them?  A child is a wonderful complication, but it doesn't make me any less of a person, just a more responsible and balanced one. 

Part of me is very excited for when she is older and can do things and go places and be part of everything!  ...she'll grow, eventually, and then those lines in the sand can be redrawn. 

6 comments:

Tracy said...

I completely understand! Except I'll go ahead and say being the default single parent ALL the time sucks. Not constantly, mind you. But occasionally the imbalance gets to me and we have to reprioritize. It's a constant juggling act.

sweetridgesisters.wordpress.com said...

Balance is hard. It's really nice to read this actually and remember that other people are working it all out too- on a day that I am taking care of an elderly woman and my two little ones and playing a harp gig. Oof. Totally worth it though, right? -kate

Fire Wife Katie said...

Amen!! For me, my lines in the sand are more circles of responsibility. At the center, I'm responsible for keeping myself healthy and happy. I can't help anyone if I'm not well myself. After that, the circle expands to my children. They are young and can't take care of themselves. And like you, my husband isn't going to be able to be there for them when needed. The kids can't scramble to find an alternate solution to a problem, so I'm it. Next is my husband. He can take care of himself, so I don't feel quite as responsible. But he still comes before extended family, friends, and work! Like you, I am looking forward to the time when the kids grow up and I have more flexibility. My contribution to the world, other than the awesome little people I'm making, is yet to come! There's a lot of years left after the kids grow up!

Stella said...

Time goes by so fast. Just try to be in the moment and enjoy. Take care of yourself. Happy Holidays. Stella

Laurie said...

Just enjoy every moment with your child - it goes by soo quickly!!! As a mother we must give up of ourselves and put all our energies into our kids!! It is so worth it. My son is 18 and graduating high school this year and I am struggling with many emotions as to what am I gonna do with my time now?? Don't stress out Jen-us women are tough!!

Solomon's Porch said...

Great way of looking at things Jen.....you'll never regret your decisions......I see the happiness your little family has.......

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