When you are childless and go through a break up it is hard. I remember chocolate ice cream, Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVDs, and whole weekends spent on my couch. And then slowly you get back into things, maybe go out for a night on the town with friends or speed dating (preferably combined with a wine tasting). The entire process is about you and, well, processing what you have gone through.
When you go through that break up with a child, however, it is different (still hard). The process now becomes about making sure your little (or not so little) one is comfortable with the new normal and you are forever tied with "the one that got away" through your child (or children). What's more, you now are doing most of it on your own (possibly without financial support) and quite frankly, that is draining in a way I can't even begin to explain.
No matter what the circumstances of the parting of ways, no matter how amicable or how much of a relief it is, your mind still needs to process the loss. If you spend your time keeping everything and everyone else together that may not happen as quickly as it otherwise would. For some that is good, children don't understand mommy wants to sit on this couch and eat this ice cream and watch this sappy movie and cry. More likely you are going to the park or watching Dinosaur Train.
The back end of the process is a lot less noticeable as well. There are no late night happy hours for me, just impromptu play dates with friends and their children. What I have noticed though, is over the last week or two, I am not crashing as soon as the baby is down (except of course for those nights he refuses to go to sleep). I once again have time to write, read, and think in the evenings. If this keeps up I may even have time to take a relaxing bath one night!
Over the past year, co-workers, fellow volunteers, friends, and family have supported me through a very difficult time. I am still working furiously to try to recover financially, but emotionally, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I see glimpses of the old me and it is like running into an old friend.
Not everything in life is about work. If you are truly lucky, as I am, work can be a safe haven to fuel your passions when things outside of work are falling apart. But in the end, if you can't find a healthy balance in both arenas, you will end up seeking the help of a medical professional.
Work/life balance is not like a scale that must balance perfectly every day. It is more like a pendulum
that swings back and forth (or three dimensionally if you have volunteer, church, and outside interests) to the area that needs the most attention. But no matter how far it swings in one direction, there is a tension pulling it back the other way in search of a balance.
I feel like my pendulum is pulling back from a year's worth of "family" demands. I have learned to find time to volunteer, spent time with friends, and engaged in new work pursuits that have truly challenged me. All the while, constantly learning about the little monkey who lives in my heart and home. For me, that is the epitome of work/life balance and I am loving all of it.
*~*~* Single Moms - Part 1 - You Will Never Be As Hard on a Single Mother as She is On Herself
*~*~* Single Moms - Part 2 - Toddler Gone Wild