[Disclaimer: This post is long. And makes little sense.]
First of all, I must state something for the record: Bologna is a weird word. I'm not sure why it is spelled the way it is, but it makes me feel uncomfortable. Nervous. I just popped up from my desk to look in the fridge to read the label on our package of bologna. Sure enough, that's how you spell it.
While I was there, I checked the expiration date because, well, I am not a very on-the-ball mom these days. Our fridge is barren. Stocked with mostly expired condiments. You will be relieved to know that said bologna does not expire until February 19th. Phew.
I carried the package of bologna back to my desk. Now I stare at it. The mocking marigold plastic. Full of sliced meat that is 98% fat free. I flip the package. I squint. The first ingredient is mechanically separated turkey. I stop there. I can't go on.
Feel free to judge.
But this isn't about bologna.
This is about balance.
Balance. I've been thinking about this word, this thing, a lot these days. I've been craving it like cupcakes. In an effort to find balance between the Personal and the Professional, to feel it, I forced myself to take a two week break from blogging. In an effort to find balance, I have stopped blogging on weekends. I have declared Saturdays and Sundays sacred family time. I think these are good steps. Important steps.
But still. I don't feel balanced. I feel shaky. Whatever it is I am doing, I feel like I should be doing something else.
Take yesterday. Yesterday was a good day. Yesterday was a hard day.
As I hunkered down at my desk, Nanny and the girls said goodbye. They were off on an adventure. I did several hours of work. I published a blog post. I edited copy for the back of my book. I tried to respond to some emails. I made lists of things I would never have time to do.
Then I met a wonderful woman for lunch. A double Columbia grad and accomplished writer. A fun girl, a veritable fountain of wisdom and wit. We sat there chatting and brainstorming about life and books. It was an incredible meeting. Fruitful. Fascinating. Fun.
But there were moments where my mind betrayed me, flitting elsewhere. I thought of two little girls jumping on a rainbow trampoline. I thought of their smiles.
And then. I walked uptown to the bris for a good friend's baby boy. I sat there, in the vast synagogue, flanked by well-wishers, celebrating life. And though I felt like a bit of an outsider - and I was - it was a lovely ceremony and wonderful to see the raw emotion on my good friend's face. After the service, we gathered for food and drink. I caught up with old friends. It was nice.
But my mind was elsewhere. I checked my phone. Nanny had sent a report. The girls had eaten pizza and they had bought a birthday present for Toddler's friend. They had taken good, long naps.
I turned to my friends said, "I miss my girls. I need to go home." And I left.
At home, the girls scampered about, naked and wild, while Nanny ran their bath. I twirled them around and smothered them with kisses. And then they took a bath while I got ready for a book party in Midtown. Not just any book party. Gretchen Rubin's book party.
Husband came home from work and I gave him a quick kiss. I peeked in the living room and my babes were there, sweet-smelling in their pajamas. I said bye-bye. Night night.
At the book party, I stuck close to my friend (a fellow member of the writer/mother species) who was kind enough to invite me. I scanned the room. I studied the distinguished, mildly familiar faces of important people. I said hello to Gretchen. She congratulated me on my cover. This made me smile. And I met a few people. Big time writers with firm handshakes and names I can't remember. For the most part, I stood there in a sea of strangers, feeling like an impostor, missing my girls. My mind went rogue once more. I pictured Husband reading Goodnight Moon to Baby. I pictured him singing our bedtime song to Toddler. I pictured him on the couch with our cats.
I wanted to be home.
And soon I was. We didn't stay long at the party. I came home. I dropped my bag. I kicked off my shoes. I curled up next to Husband on the couch. I buried my face in his sweater. I was quiet. I pictured my girls. Their sweet and slumbering faces. I ate an embarrassing amount of Thai leftovers. As if Pad Thai was the cure. And then I ate a big cupcake. Which made me feel a bit sick.
As we were climbing in to bed, I broke my silence. I said, "Today was an amazing day, but it was such a hard day. I missed the girls."
"I don't know what I want," I said.
And we talked a little. And cuddled a little. And then went to sleep.
But I awoke before 4am thinking about balance, feeling a bit ill from the noodles and frosting and uncertainty. My mind cycled through lists of what I need to do today, this week, this month. Sadness and confusion and panic crept over me as my cat purred beside me.
And so I got up. I made coffee. And I sat down. Here. In this good place. This hard place. I sit here, gripping my mug, squinting into a bright screen, contemplating bologna and balance. And I realize something.
This is about bologna.
This is about balance.
Balance is bologna. (I would use another word that rhymes with Mullfit, but as we determined yesterday, I am too much of a wuss good girl.)
What I realized. What I am realizing (the hard way): Life is shaky ground. Life is about shifting seas. Life is about being in one place and missing another. Life is about crumbling under should. Life is about pursuing professional passion while desperately missing babies. Life is about savoring and snuggling babies while longing for professional passion. Life is having and wanting and slipping and stumbling.
Life is about good days. And hard days. And days that are both.
Now it is 5:33am. Approaching a normal, passable hour. The loves of my life are still deep in slumber. My coffee is gone. And I feel a bit better. Because I have spilled some words. Done some work. And now? Now I will return the bologna to the fridge. Now I will pour a little more coffee. And wait for blue eyes to open.
Now I will wait for the day to begin. A day with the girls. We will make messes and laugh and maybe cry. We will bounce on a big girl bed, chucking stuffed animals over the edge. Maybe we will eat bologna. But first we will poke holes and make eyes. And then we will carve out smiles. Big ones. Because smiley slices of bologna are pretty yummy.
Yes, I wait for a new day to begin.
A good day.
A hard day.
Do you think balance is attainable or a figment of our imagination? Do you think balance is in good part mental, that if we tell ourselves we are balanced we feel balanced? Am I the only one who is having a hard time with this, suffocating under an avalanche of should, feeling stretched? How do we begin to balance kids and careers? Thoughts on bologna?