Brand building through storytelling

Question of the day: how did you balance your life?

You’ve been able to combine career and motherhood. That’s what I’m trying to do. How did you balance your life?

Maynard RonaBen 1978ishI didn’t. My son’s childhood sped by in a blur of 6 p.m. sprints to the day care centre, mad scrambles to get dinner on the table and Saturdays devoted to chores we couldn’t get to during the week.

I don’t regret working hard. My first magazine job was such a wonderfully consuming thrill that it didn’t even feel like work. Still, I wish my husband and I had been smart enough to hire someone else to clean our house instead of doing it ourselves in a hare-brained attempt to save money. What we saved on cleaning, we blew on restaurant meals because I was too tired to cook. Besides, we weren’t exactly Molly Maid. We didn’t clean so much as move the dirt around. (To be fair, I should give my husband credit for his mop skills. I was the one who didn’t cut it.)

Years passed before we realized our mistake. By that time I had found a more comfortable working rhythm, freelancing at home. I still worked long hours, but I could take a break anytime to talk with my son Ben about his day. When he came home in tears because someone had stolen his customized bike (created one precious part at a time from his paper route money), I was there to console him.

I started my career in the 70s, when briefcase-toting mothers were something of a novelty. Many people thought that I was failing as a mother. In fact, no one laid on more guilt than my own mother. But today I have a wonderful grown-up son (a devoted father, by the way) who tells me I did just fine.

I used to believe there was such a thing as balance. As Editor of Chatelaine, I actually produced two whole issues on that theme. I thought I was pretty forward-thinking, but I’ve wised up since then. The whole concept of “balance” implies that we can parcel out our work time and our private time in neat little chunks of exactly the same size. Wrong. Life is not a set of scales.

I prefer to think of my life as a piece of music with a melody line and a back beat. Sometimes my work gets the melody; other times my friends and family do. What I’m after is harmony. I’m not there yet but I keep trying.

Posted by Rona

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