In the last few months, I have been asked numerous times about work/life balance. Not sure that I am able to give a satisfying answer to this question, but I’ll give it a try. Although I aspire for balance, I find that it is often elusive as I am constantly juggling, recalibrating, and juggling some more to keep all the balls in the air. Rarely do things go according to plan. Ask my kids! I find that adaptability and going with the flow are key for peace within the crazy so I do my best to ride the waves. Some days I do better at this than others. A big mug of coffee at the crack of dawn seems to set the day’s trajectory on stable footing, and I’ve been known to hit the Starbucks drive-through mid-day when my plate seems to be especially overflowing. But here’s the thing: I love my life. It is far from perfect. It is messy, full, complicated, and sweet. But, when I think about the work/life dance, I can genuinely say that I signed up for this crazy train, and I would do it all again in a heartbeat.
I thought I would share a letter that I wrote to my children recently to provide some context to this work/life journey:
Dear Ellie, Ben, Leo, and Moira,
As I surveyed the Brummell landscape that August morning in 2012, I found myself in uncharted territory: all four of you were now in school full-time. My tired, sad, and grateful self sunk into our buttery and cozy living room chair which was bathed in the morning sun, closed my eyes, breathed deeply, and promptly fell into a most blessed sleep.
A few hours later (at least, this is what I recall!), I awoke refreshed and more clear headed. I perused some of my journals from the past 12 years. What a glorious, crazy, and blessed ride it had been! I knew that change was beckoning, but I was uncertain what that entailed. With no more littles under my feet during the day, I contemplated my options, and felt this deep desire to seek a job that would utilize my skills and gifts, and also stretch me outside of my comfort zone. I knew that it was time to spread my wings and explore the possibilities. Thanks to the synchronicity of the universe and my friend Elly Brenner, I landed one of the best jobs on the planet: Academic Advisor in the First Year of Studies at Notre Dame. It was in my role as advisor that my love for working with young adults was born.
The transition to full-time work wasn’t smooth sailing but all hands were on deck and we persevered and made it work for our crew of 6. Everyone picked up a little more slack around the house. School lunches became a team effort. Dinners were often on the fly and made in 30 minutes or less. St. Mary's and Notre Dame students became treasured babysitters. Dad and I shifted our roles accordingly and supported one another as best as we knew how, and committed to creating a new normal. Fast forward 6 years, and the seque from academic advising to creating a life coaching business has become a way of life for me and for our family. I recently heard that "you teach what you need to learn." It is a daily practice for me to coach myself, my clients, and your evolving and fabulous beings through this crazy and marvelous life adventure.
I value and cherish being a Mom, and I believe that intertwining and honing my craft of coaching young adults and their parents makes me a better Mom, a better wife, and an overall, better human.
I pray that each one of you is brave and ambitious too in following what is true. I signed up for this dynamic of home, family, marriage, and work, so I continue to try to learn and get better at it. It is not a perfect science. I feel like I have the greatest gig in the world. But it isn't without its sacrifices: I have missed some sporting events and school performances over the years, I am maneuvering ever-changing schedules and activities at the last minute and falling up short, I am often shopping last minute for an assigned classroom snack because baking is no longer in my repertoire, I rely on Amazon Prime (2-day delivery is a dream!) for birthday gifts and paper towels, I sometimes take work calls in the car or at night when it is family time, and typically by 9pm, I am toast. My tank is empty.
Thank God I am able to share this parenting road with your Dad who has been my partner every step of the way on this journey. He picks up the slack where and when needed and makes it all possible. Know that a “career” can be anything you want it to be - just be sure that it realizes your gifts and makes you a better and more whole person all-around. Give your gifts and hearts generously to the world. Work hard. Be passionate. Courageous. Intentional. Your life is your work of art. It is your contribution. Take it seriously, and do it very well.
As I’ve told you before, I believe that Poppa Chuck led the way for a life well-lived with his law practice, community service, marriage to Oma, and commitment to being the very best human he could be. He showed us what was possible in his vulnerable, disciplined, Germanic, and big-hearted way. Certainly, big shoes to fill (he, after all, wore a size 15 shoe!), but I value enormously his legacy, and I try to follow suit in my own unique way.
Know that I love you four beings more than anything - and part of that love is making sure that I show up in my world every day by taking care of myself and being accountable for my emotional and physical health; loving your Dad with all my heart (marriage is a daily commitment); guiding, respecting, letting go, and loving you four as you find your way on your respective journeys; committing to the work that I love and putting it out in the universe; and helping my clients know what is possible by finding their fit and becoming themselves very well. "Set your life on fire, seek those that fan your flames.” This is my contribution.
Thanks for being some of my greatest teachers in this life. You four humans rock my world. Shine on, Brummells! So good to be walking this awesome life adventure with you! ~ Your Mama xx