I thought I knew what work-life balance meant. I was a happy-go-lucky bachelor with very little care in the world. I could stay up late, finish a week’s worth of work and then run to the nearest beach to enjoy life. I dedicated months to purely training for half marathons and climbed Kilimanjaro twice, once on a whim.
Then there was a lull when the pandemic hit. The world slowed down, and my anxiety powered up. 2020 was a very introspective year. I started therapy, and while on this journey, I realized that I wasn’t enjoying life. I was drinking more and adventuring less. Work was going great, but life suffered.
2021 was a better year. I landed a new job, had several public speaking opportunities, and life was getting more satisfactory. The most memorable event, I sent a text that changed my life.
“Do you want to grab a coffee sometime?”
I distinctly remember that we didn’t drink coffee. I drank beer, craft beer. My date, Mel, had wine by the glass. There was live music, and we danced. Later that night, Mel texted me.
“I enjoyed the laughs. Now you need to divulge the agenda.”
I trembled a bit as I wrote my reply. Maybe it was the craft beer. I’ve known Mel since 2018; we were colleagues once. We lost touch over the years, but we started talking in mid-2021. Out of the blue, I asked her out with no clear agenda. My ancestors must have been very worried about their lineage.
And that was the beginning of a life-changing experience. Mel reminded me about my passions in life. A few months after we started dating, she got me guitar lessons after I mentioned how I’d love to learn how to play the guitar. I played for three months and even learned how to tune a guitar. But I’m no Fancy Fingers, so I’m more careful about what I wish for around Mel.
On the last weekend of January 2022, Mel and I attended Fancy Finger’s concert at The Alchemist. We stayed till the end because we wanted to dance to our favorite song, Daddy Issues.
“I’m about to be a father, na siko ready.”
I remember this night because we found out we were pregnant the very next day. We were scared, happy, shocked, joyful, a blend of emotions. We made our decision.
Seven months, twenty-two days later, we welcomed Mansa to the world. That was the most life-changing of all my life-changing moments. Life became fuller. In those seven months, I proposed, and we built a home. We didn’t do it alone. I’m grateful for the support structure we have. My mum bought a shipment of baby clothes that will last till Mansa is 5. My mother-in-law traveled eight hours to see her granddaughter as soon as she was born. My father, always with a somber expression, speaks fatherly advice. I cannot fail to mention Esther, my cousin, and our doula. She labored with Mel, taught me how to bathe my daughter, and is always a phone call away when we have questions.
This essay started with a purpose, but, like every conversation, I ended up talking about my daughter.
So, what is work-life balance? When you can give your best at work without missing important moments of your life.
Love you, Mel & Mansa.