Carrie Maldonado – Writer

Freelance writer, wordsmith, and novelist

Launching my novel Grace Group, has caused me to jump completely out of my comfort zone into a space of total vulnerability and faith…a lot like motherhood, now that I think about it…

If you know me or are connected with me in the slightest way (or ever were), you are probably aware that Grace Group was released last week. I’m the kind of person who loves goals. I always am working on goals, and I achieve a good amount of them. This is not always a good thing, as it puts me at great risk for busy-ness (to draw a biblical analogy, I can definitely be a Martha and not a Mary) which can sap my joy and leave me feeling guilty and anxious if I’m not working on ‘something’. Add to this an almost superstitious compulsion to finish my ‘work’ before I play (i.e. relax) and I can definitely be accused of being wound a bit too tight.

This has placed me in an interesting (read uncomfortable) position when it comes to my writing and my parenting, while also maintaining a consulting practice. First and foremost because it means my work is NEVER done and never will be. I figured out a long time ago that if I didn’t schedule in play before I got everything done, I’d never leave my desk, see my kids, or go to the indoor playground (actually, that part I wouldn’t mind so much). In short, work-life balance isn’t so much balance as deciding on a minute-by-minute basis what I’m NOT going to do right now in favor of the more important stuff.

I don’t want to discount the stress that men feel, but there are men bloggers who can write about that, so I’m going to focus on us women and just say what the HECK have we done to ourselves? Isn’t there some curse that says may you get what you ask for? If there’s not there probably should be. I know I say, and feel, like my kids are my biggest priority, and yet there are big chunks of my time where I’m pursuing other interests. I’ve read all the things out there congratulating me for taking my ‘me time’, and reassuring me that my kids will be way better off if I do my own thing because….I don’t remember the reasons. Maybe that’s true, but all I know is Every. Single. Time I come down from my office, they all run up to me, faces lit up asking “Mommy! Are you done with your work?” and if I say yes, they cheer and clap like a visiting celebrity has arrived. If I say no, they sometimes cry, and it breaks my heart.

On our worst days, I have a hard time being patient when I’ve got all three of them all day. Whether it’s the fighting, or all three wanting my undivided attention all the time, sometimes I feel completely depleted, impatient and snappy. On those days, I honestly believe that they’d be better off if I did work full time and only saw them on weekends. If you’re like me, the day to day noise can get completely overwhelming. Sometimes the anxiety is stifling. When that happens, I usually try to meditate and pray for clarity and comfort. I’ll be honest…sometimes I feel like I’m just crying out in the wilderness, and no one hears me – and that’s a scary place. But inevitably, comfort comes. Often it sneaks up on me, and suddenly I’ll realize that it’s all okay. That I can do this. That I’m not wrecking my kids by trying to be an author, and have a business. What a relief when it comes.

Sometimes it’s the little things that can remind us we’re doing better than we think. In the case of the Grace Group pandemonium, for me, it’s Bisky’s book (All about God). See, she decided since I wrote a book, she would too. Hers is better, though, because it has pictures. Like me, she is also producing little videos on ‘her’ phone talking about her book. She wants me to put them on Facebook, and I had to explain that kids shouldn’t really post on FB because of tricky people. Part of her motivation is a highly developed competitive streak, where she wants to excel at anything that is getting attention around here. But she also wants to be like me, and she also really loves God. And that tells me I must be doing something right.

I have no words of wisdom on balance. Nothing. I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants for three years, questioning almost every decision I make, but I do know a couple things that are true for me, at least. I know that it’s almost always the right choice to choose relationships. I know that 30 minutes taken to play has never ruined any of the other stuff. And somehow, through none of my own doing, I know that when I choose the ‘right’ things, even though it might mean losing out on some sort of material gain, that the material has a way of showing up when I most need it.

So for now, my priorities will remain playing with the kids (but not at the indoor playground that kills my soul), talking about Grace Group, taking care of my awesome clients and of course hanging out with Dreamy. In varying proportions.

How do you ‘balance’ yourself?

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