True confession time:
I’ve never liked the cliches that are often employed to describe mothers who also have a career:
“Motherhood is all about the work-life balance.”
“It’s a juggling act.”
“Mothers must deal with competing demands.”
I want to hold my children close while they are home with me, not “juggle” them. I don’t so much try to “balance” my life as I try to give attention and care where it is needed when it is needed. Sometimes that means excluding all else. In fact, being passionate about and good at life and work really requires that at times one approach each area with boundless enthusiasm and focus rather than with restrained “balance”. Whether we have children or not, most adults have “competing demands” in their lives, and most of us do our best to figure out how to meet those demands. Sometimes we fail and sometimes we succeed.
Life is choice.
I see my life and work not as a “balance” to be negotiated nor as a “juggling act” but as a see-saw. My family and my books both get my attention. Sometimes the focus is necessarily on one thing over the other (hence the see-saw), but in general family gets first priority. That’s my choice and that’s the main reason my business is in my home. I know my choice might not work for every working mother, but the see-saw analogy best describes the way I integrate my work and my family.
For instance, taking a class at Rare Book School for a week, writing a detailed description for and quoting a significant book to a library, and then doing two back-to-back book fairs over two weeks meant that I had to focus most of my attention on my book business these past couple of months. It is thanks to my family, both immediate and extended, that I was able to give my focus to the business at that time. Everyone pitches in to help around the house in different ways so I can do fun things like study at the University of Virginia and sell books at fairs in far away Santa Monica.
However, the start of the school year, the start of football and baseball season for the boys, a few family birthdays, my mother-in-law’s emergency surgery, and the birth of a new niece meant that I then had to focus 150% of my attention on the most important people in my life — my family. And that’s where I’ve been these past few weeks — enjoying (well, most of the time) being available to my family. This means that the blog got neglected, though I am happy to report that I still had the opportunity to sell some good books.
In any case, the see-saw is currently in a state of equilibrium. I’ll be blogging Monday through Friday again until the next time my family life overtakes the state of equilibrium. That could be tomorrow. Or it could be in a few months. One never knows, and that is part of the fun.
Life is choice.
In the meantime, here are some of the things that caught my attention as I was catching up with my book business, some things I think you should take a look at:
The Private Library waxes eloquent on the future of book collecting. If you haven’t bookmarked The Private Library as a must-read blog, you are missing out. The posts are always well-written and always relevant to books, book collecting, and bookselling. The posts are so good, it makes me wonder why I bother with my tiny (and sometimes sporadic) blog posts at all.
Americana Exchange has a great article on the role of book collecting clubs and associations. I recently joined the Book Club of California and went to my first BCC event this week. Terry Belanger, founder of Rare Book School and instructor of the class I took there over the summer, gave a most informative and entertaining talk about libraries and rare books and de-accessioning policies. The bonus of joining a book club is that besides listening to interesting discussions about books, there are other people I can talk to who are as relentlessly obsessive about books as I am.
Thoughtful Husband’s ears are so relieved. 🙂
I still plan to report on the recent Central Valley Antiquarian Book Fair. And I still plan to tell you the story of my first successful quote to a library. And I’ll add a re-cap of Terry Belanger’s speech to the Book Club of California.
I’ll get to these stories next.
See you in the stacks!