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I Am Where I Am, but Where Is Balance?

A friend from high school told me recently she hasn't had time to create the business she dreamed up for herself. There hasn't been time. She's a stay-at-home mom with a 4-year-old.

"I bet you feel guilty or you're mad at yourself,'' I say.

"Oh, yes!'' she says.

"Don't,'' I say. "If you were working at home and raising her, you'd probably feel guilty about taking time from her. And, you'd be doubly tired.''

My assumption would not have been a correct one for several other mothers I know who are growing businesses and staying home with small children at the same time. But, my girlfriend and I are a lot alike. Even our daughters are similar in temperament.

The light bulb moment in 2004 that led to the creation of Los Pollitos Dicen, my business, is one of the most fascinating times of my life. There was no doubt, no fear. A true Oprah "Aha'' when gut and brain and Spirit are in synchronized harmony. What the vision didn't show me was how many hours it would take, how many times I would need to slip away from my little daughter to have a telephone conversation, pack boxes, write e-mails, ask her to play quietly, leave her to go do shows.

I have thought a lot lately about whether I would have been happy to postpone business opportunities and focus solely on raising my daughter, the only child we are going to have. I imagine that other life to be less scattered, simpler, more focused. And with cleaner bathrooms. And then, I re-imagine it as frustrating and – should I whisper this? – boring. I can only dance to the Go, Diego, Go CD or play Chutes and Ladders so many times in one day.

It is my habit this summer to get up at 5:30 a.m., log on, write, check orders, pack tees. The goal is to be at a good stopping point by the time Maria wakes up around 8. The other morning, she was up at 7 and not in the best of spirits. I was writing. I checked on her, got her some milk. Told her I'd be right with her. She called for me. I told her I would be there shortly. She called for me again. And again.

"Maria, please. If I can finish this, we can spend the whole day together playing. Please, give me a break for a moment,'' I said in my not-so-nice mommy voice.

Later that day, I asked her to go wash her hands for lunch. She was putting a puzzle together.

"Mami, give me a break. I am busy,'' she said in her not-so-nice voice.

It stung. And then, I laughed.

A twisted version of Popeye's mantra came to me: "I am where I am, and I am where I am.''

Acceptance is the key to happiness, isn't it?

Maybe balance will follow.

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Visit Bilingual in the Boonies and Los Pollitos Dicen.

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