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the juggling act

I hopped on a plane on Thursday to fly to a little town in Northern California to art direct a really lovely wedding. (It was beautiful all on it's own, I can take no credit. My job was just to make sure we documented it's loveliness as well as we could.)

Every once in a while I get to run off and do a photo shoot, thanks to JR who will step in and take a day off work when needed so I can run and play "art director" once again. Photo shoots on location sound glamorous and exciting, but they are long hard days. We were up at 6 AM shooting clovers in the morning light, and still working at 8 PM trying to capture the last few minutes of daylight after the sun dropped behind the hills. Then we would race off to make it into town (a 40 minute drive away.. longer than that if you have to wait for the cows to move off the dirt road) before the only sit down restaurant closed their kitchen at 9.

Most of you know I stopped working full time at my job when I had my son C, almost 5 years ago. Now I work freelance for a few of my favorite clients, usually late at night when the kids are asleep, squeezing in a book design project when I can. It's a juggling act, trying to balance the work and being home with my family. I have tipped the scale to the "work" side, and found that I am a very cranky mother if I am staying up late each night working and always sweating a deadline. I have then tipped the scale to the "family" side and found that (after a few months of carefree bliss) I feel a little lost when I am not working on any projects. I need to be gathering inspiration, playing with color swatches, working and reworking a design until it is finally just right. I don't feel quite like myself when I'm not designing something.

So I try to balance my scale somewhere in the middle. There are times when I feel I am doing poorly at everything.. that I don't have enough hours in the day to be a good mom and a good designer and a good wife. But I think I'm getting better at the balancing act.

I flew back home Saturday night, as the wedding was in full swing, so I could be back in time for Mother's day. (Homemade cards and JR making dinner? How could I miss that?) As I walked out of the airport and saw my little ones through the car window, I was happy to be home. My children are never as cute as when I have been away from them for a few days. I am always so happy to see their little smiling faces.

On the ride home I filled JR in about how the shoot had gone: the long days, the many shots, how tired I was. He looked over and said "And you loved every minute of it, right?". I smiled. He knows me too well.

Image from one of our favorite alphabet books, Bruno Munari's ABC.

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Reader Comments (25)

I love what Nancy Minsky said about continuing to be creative in different ways over the years...and then being able to jump back in "when the time is ripe". I love being a mother, and would feel terrible about working instead of mothering at this point, but I also long for the day when the "time is ripe" because designing (I'm also a graphic designer) is so FUN I can hardly stand to stay away from it! Nancy's comment, and your post, certainly help me feel a bit better about the wait.

06.4.2009 | Unregistered CommenterHiedi

Brooke, we totally didn't realize it was you (e.g. author of this wonderful blog) at the wedding! We've loved your blog forever - so inspiring! Really glad you were able to be there - it was such a joy. Thank you! (and thanks to your kids and JR, too!)

06.6.2009 | Unregistered CommenterSabrina

I'm in the same boat (and a book designer as well). My little one is 8 months and I'm feeling torn constantly. I try to take each day at a time, but the reality is that freelancing is different than working in an office...and incredibly different when a baby is added to the mix. Your post was a helpful just to know other people are succeeding in the same situations. Also, I think your children will benefit from you doing your work and the creativity it brings into their own lives!

06.10.2009 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly

It´s amazing how people can be so diferent and yet so similar in many ways!I came up here trougth many blog ...blog to blog to blog...and i stop to read the story of my life when you talk about balance!
From Portugal nice to meet you

06.12.2009 | Unregistered CommenterGraça Paz

I needed to read this. I really don't know how women do it.

03.9.2010 | Unregistered CommenterABBY

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