Partial Amputations

Guest Post by Kathleen. Kathleen blogs at Kathleenbasi.com and is a perfect example of the old saying that “if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.” I am quite excited that she made time for a post about life as a hybrid mom!

Fifteen minutes was all I had. But it was a good, hard fifteen minutes—flaming through the same six notes twenty times in a row, surfing ledger lines that drive my piano-playing husband crazy. Again and again, a dozen times, two dozen, training the synapses to fire in the right sequence in a relaxed fashion, and allow me to nail the finale.

It wasn’t enough time to do it properly. My fingers were stiff, more accustomed to computer keyboards than delicate silver flute keys. But at 9:30 p.m.—bedtime for a mommy who gets up at 5:30—I ran the cheesecloth through my flute and put it away, knowing I had done everything I could in the time I had.

Woman playing flute, close up of hands
I’m a stay-at-home mom…sort of. Actually, it would be more accurate to say I’m a “hybrid mom.” In fact, I think I’m the woman who’s trying to have it all. You can see it in the bio I use these days:

Kathleen Basi is a stay-at-home mom, freelance writer, flute and voice teacher, composer, choir director, natural family planning teacher, scrapbooker, sometime-chef and budding disability rights activist. She puts her juggling skills on display at www.kathleenbasi.com.

Yes, it is every bit as chaotic as it sounds. I live my life wobbling on a teeter totter with too many ends to count. I have too many passions, too many loves, and too many responsibilities to choose one. And so I choose them all—but that means that none of them will ever receive my full attention.

I used to be a darned good flute player. I still am a darned good flute player, actually, but every time I pick up my instrument—the one to which I devoted my entire life from seventh grade through a master’s degree—I realize how much I have lost.

Last weekend, I rehearsed with three college friends, flutists all—women I hardly see anymore. One is a full-time flute teacher, and darned good at it. One is a respiratory therapist pursuing her Master’s. One manages a local fitness center. Standing in that circle, it was hard not to feel some regret at having lost the focus I once had. But something had to give, and for now, the flute is it.

In many ways I think that the path I have chosen is the hardest of all options. I will forever be unable to focus on one thing; I will forever be frustrated because I can’t do anything to its fullest extent. Everything and everyone in my life—kids, husband, editors, inner muse—will demand my attention, and I will constantly have to amputate parts of one persona in order to attend to another. I will never reach equilibrium; life for me will always be a balancing act as I try to navigate the middle of the stream, so I don’t crush my family on the rocks of my own interests.

And yet, I wouldn’t have it any other way. The very thing that is so hard about it is also what is so wonderful:

I have it all.

I have a career without the pressure of having to make ends meet. I have a job I love, yet I have my kids with me. I get to share the moments, cute, poignant, triumphant, because even though I’m working, I’m with them.

For me, hybrid motherhood is the best of all possible worlds, and if the price I pay is amputating parts of my interests, then so be it. This is my life, and I love it.

Bring it on.

Go to kathleenbasi.com to find more of Kathleen’s writing!

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14 thoughts on “Partial Amputations

  1. Michelle

    I have often regretted not devoting my education (B.S. and MBA) to something where I could be “at home” and “at work” together. That’s wonderful that you have that ability!

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  3. Princess Chirsty

    Even though I’m not a SAHM, I understand having to give up some passions to pursue another. My clarinet, which I have a degree based on, has been in it case for a month and a half…. with no hope of any “real” playing time soon. I’m glad it is possible to have it all – that’s how I want to be able to be!

  4. Joy

    Well put!!
    I too am trying to find the right balance of caring well and primarily for my family, while using my training as a nurse and midwife to serve woman and babies (and my church, my community, etc) ~ and still making time to read, scrapbook, and enjoy the other little things that fills my tank.

    Thank you for sharing so beautifully of your journey.

  5. That Married Couple

    Good stuff, Kathleen! I think that many of us who desire to be SAHMs would actually like to be a bit more “hybrid” mom, as you put it. I think many of us would love to be freelance writers (or even something more regular than that), volunteers, perhaps sell handmade goods online, and a great many other things. I think your term “hybrid mom” is interesting, as perhaps its more accurate (and trendy sounding!) than “part-time work-at-home mom” or something of the like.

  6. Maria

    I can soooo relate.
    As the mother of two young daughters, I try to be thoughtful in what I’m teaching them about life.
    The old saying, “always do your best” is one I’ve never really followed and I realize now that I’m probably a little better for it. There ARE times to do your best, but there are times when something only deserves partial focus or minimal effort.
    Of course, I’m teaching my daughters that Mommy knows best and I’m currently the decider of when it’s 100% effort and when it’s not…

  7. Sarah

    I second what Elizabeth says about the coinage of “hybrid mom”. Though it does make me think a little bit of a ford fusion. ;)

    I know I hope to continue writing on my blog (and would love to pursue other writing opportunities) while being a SAHM.

    You are a wonderful writer; I’m so glad you wear all the hats you do!

  8. Dustin | EM

    Wow Kathleen, I really loved this post! My wife and I both (currently) work plus we have a lot of other things going on, so I can certainly relate to your remarks. We are currently considering whether my wife should stay home, and I think she would also love to be “doing things” while also being at home with our kids.

    Thanks again!

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