Two months before Tim and I were married, I changed jobs. It was a different type of role than I had held previously. Though I was excited about it, I felt myself overwhelmed by the transition. It was more than the job, of course. It was a career shift as well as a new job; it was becoming a wife and a stepmom; it was moving out of my walkable, downtown life and into a house in the suburbs; it was leaving behind my routines and creating new ones that incorporated children and a longer commute; and it was moving into a house where people were living, a house full of stuff already. It was quite the transition and it all happened over three months.
I recall saying to my incredibly understanding new coworker, “You would like me better if you knew me before all of this transition.” She laughed and assured me she liked me just fine.
But I knew it was true. I liked the woman Tim fell in love with and married. But Tim’s new bride? I had no idea who she was. And she seemed like someone who just couldn’t get her act together.
On the Struggle Bus
I couldn’t get my new bedroom closet situated in a way that made sense. Never mind finding the right places for things in a kitchen that two different people used for cooking. So getting dressed in the morning was unnecessarily frustrating and I struggled to create a good routine for meal prep, coffee making, or even food storage in the kitchen. Then there was the merging of two households full of stuff, two different morning routines, two different ideas of what constitutes a clean kitchen, and two ways of handling conflict (the last two are sometimes related).
The transition was tough. Eventually enough time passed that logistically, it felt more like home (but we’re talking months). I was then left to navigate what it meant to be a stepmom and a wife. And I’ll tell you what, just as soon as I thought I had one of those figured out, something would blow up in my face. As an organized, list-making, Type A personality, that is a hard thing around which to fully wrap my mind. (Spoiler alert: 5+ years later, unexpected things still happen! Who would have guessed?)
The Eternal Balancing Beam
In a conversation with a friend who is a teacher, we bemoaned the challenge of work-life balance.
“I’m a great teacher right now,” she shared. “Which means that as a wife and a mom, I’m average at best.”
Something clicked with me when she said that and on the other end of the phone, I nodded. That’s just real life.
I no longer demand perfection from myself in all areas of my life. It’s just too much.
That doesn’t mean I’m not aiming for excellence, but it does mean that I’m not going to see it as a personal failure if I leave the kids at after-school care a little longer in order to run to the grocery store alone or if I’m washing gym uniforms at 10pm the night before they’re needed.
And neither should you.