Confessions from One Mother Striving to Do It All

Posted November 1, 2010 by

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Attention mothers!

We’re running here, hurrying there, multi-tasking, and stretched to the limit — trying to be everything, all the time, to everybody. But sadly, we cannot. We need to slow down, choose our priorities carefully, consciously, and timed well.

I notice that women seem to arrive at a magical time in life, when a dormant passion, a lifelong calling, or something other than motherhood is (re-)discovered and distracts us from our primary caretaking duties.

We’re conflicted because once this grand epiphany awakens us to our unrealized potential, be it a philanthropic endeavor, the embarkation upon a new career path, religious discovery, or honing of a natural skill or talent, we now have something beckoning our attention away from our children.

I know there are those that pen books and articles with step-by-step tips and approaches about how to achieve the “ethereal work-family-life balance,” claiming that yes, we can do it all.

But, how many of us are that disciplined, organized, structured and really capable of containing our enthusiasm? Is it realistic? Many of us, when inspired, become obsessive, and have a difficult time, separating our lives into neat little non-intersecting quadrants.

I’ll be the first to admit my personal guilt.

As a conflicted mother, here are three observations that convince me that doing it all is just not possible:

1. Just pay attention to me, please. My two-and-a-half-year-old girl was drinking from bottles –I know, shame on me — until two months ago. Honestly, I didn’t push her to stop because I wanted to avoid the sleepless nights and the torture that precipitates that milestone.  One day, I decided it was enough. Together, we packed up all the bottles and dropped them off at a donation center. Cold turkey. We purchased a cool drinking cup later that day and that was it. It was as if she had been waiting for me to just pay attention to her and guide her out of that phase.

2. Be present, Mom, and actively participate in my growing experiences. Oftentimes, I plead with my son: clean your room, do your homework, get dressed.  No response. Only when I drop everything I am doing and accompany him through the entire task-at-hand, he complies. One day, I asked him why ne never listens to me. He answered, “Mom, I want you to be here with me while I do it.” I don’t know about other children, but I learned something valuable that day; my kids want me to be a part of their experiences. And when I do, they actually enjoy it—even the homework!

3. Asking for consequences. Many of us parents are guilty of threatening and not following through. Sometimes we’re distracted and don’t follow up. After naughty behavior, my children have inquired about the consequence and bizarrely, seem comforted by my ability to deliver on my promise. Again, this emphasizes the above point about “being present” enough to care to take disciplinary action.

Raising children is time-consuming. Truth be told, they seem to fare much better when we devote ourselves and our time 100% when with them.  In other words, “Just pay attention to me!” So the question is, how can we devote our full attention to our kids, when we are also drawn to other pursuits that we love? And what does all this mean for us hybrid moms?  Is the work-life balance feasible? Perhaps, the only option is to sacrifice some shut-eye and plug away with our “other” passions once the kids are asleep!

How do you balance raising your kids, working, and the pursuits that feed your spirit?

About

Darah Zeledon aka The Warrior Mom is a wife, mom of 5, writer, fitness buff and thinker. Her unique voice reveals an experiential and academic knowledge of the social sciences—particularly psychology and sociology. Her empowering messages are born from an appreciation and passion for life and a nonstop quest for truth, reflecting a wisdom and resiliency earned by an array of challenging life experiences. Despite it all, Darah’s personal favorites are the quirky anecdotes exposing the chaotic tug-of-war between motherhood and personal passions. She’s currently working on her memoir—a tragic, yet inspiring story of the last five years of her life entitled: A Lucky Girl. You can read more of her musings at: http://www.warriormom.net

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  1. Mechelle Report

    Thank you for blog and all the comments that followed. It helps to put it all into perspective. There is one thing that I found a disconnect with: for many of us (parents) it’s not even an attempt or desire to find balance, but rather a struggle to juggle all the hats we MUST do to survive and raise happy, well-adjused kids. I am a single Mom and high school English teacher. The idea of doing anyting just for me is foreign. The real struggle is parenting 2 boys, teaching 125+ students, cooking, cleaning, being a taxi cab driver, tutor.. the list goes on and on. So, my suggestion for your next blog might simply be: How do you stay afloat with your sanity intact?

    Reply
  2. Warrior Mom Report

    Hi Eric,

    Thank you so much for your insights about “setting priorities.” It really hit home when you wrote, “If you want to get the long-range view of what your children are going to remember about you.” As soon as I read this line, I turned off my smart phone, (I was at my son’s soccer practice,) and kicked the ball around with my youngest two. So thank you for that. I also checked out your site, (the kids are now sleeping,) and love what I’ve read so far. I call myself the Warrior Mom, not because I’m raising five kids all less than two years apart, but because I have endured five years of extreme hardship, and have been able to lead my family out of the darkness while keeping us all together, and all healthy. I’ve got a memoir I’m penning and I’m currently seeking agent representation. This inspiring book will detail the events that precipitated my transformation into the Warrior Mom and I hope the read compels others to continue their personal fight for survival. Again, thanks for your poignant observation and I look forward to purchasing your book in the near future.

    Reply
  3. Eric Bowen Report

    Hello Warrior Mom,

    An underlying theme of your post is “setting priorities.” In the end, what part of your work as a mother is going to be of most value to children?

    I got lots of answers from hundreds of writers telling stories about their mothers when I compiled the anthology, “Wisdom of Our Mothers.” If you want to get the long-range view of what your children are going to remember about you, please check it out at http://www.familiabooks.com .

    Speaking of “Warrior Moms,” one of the writers contributed a story called “Samurai Mother,” in which he compared his mother to a warrior, both in how she fought her battles and instilled discipline in her children.

    Eric

    Reply
  4. Bridgetteciaj Report

    Balance. I’m laughing. I am not balanced, but I do pick and choose. As a recovering over-doer, I find that I have to constantly remember that my children really do need to come first *most* of the time, but not all of the time. They are growing up and have need for their own space as well, so I am always looking for ways we can do things not just together (like the cleaning or volunteering which I love), but also alongside one another. If they are watching tv, I might hop on the computer in the same room, so I can watch at the same time, still be able to comment, but also catch up on some of the fluffier things that fall to the end of my list. I have found that as my children age (now 11 & 13), they don’t always want me right there WITH them, but they want me THERE so they know I’m available at any time. It’s the crossover into more independence for them.

    Reply
  5. Elisabeth Wilkins, EP Editor Report

    Good question! Not sure who said it first, but it makes sense to me. (I tried googling, but came up with about a hundred names…) I’ve found the idea to be a relief, though — reminds me to be patient with myself and focus on what’s important.

    Reply
  6. Warrior Mom Report

    Elisabeth, I have heard that saying from a few people lately; would you happen to know from who it came originally? Just curious.

    Katie, you are so right. That pressure is more prevalent here than in any other country I’ve resided. No wonder we have so many social and domestic problems in our society that are simply nonexistent in other cultures.

    Reply
  7. Katie Report

    Great info. There’s such a huge expectation in our culture that mom’s do all/be all. It’s so important to take a step back from time to time to make sure you’re not missing the really important stuff.

    Reply
  8. greatest potential Report

    Hi Darah,

    I do believe that it is difficult to have it all and the love the quote that you can have it all but not at the same time. i try to manage my wants with my responsiblities. since my mother passed away at 55 and i realize she put all her time and effort into mothering and i realize that the time is now. one day our children will live their own lives so you need to make sure you maintain the desires of your heart in moderation so that you can have a balance of self. by being yourself you can teach your children to be themselves and enjoy life and not center their life on one thing. thanks for sharing yourself…i know you are a great mom and inspiring woman!

    Reply
  9. Elisabeth Wilkins, EP Editor Report

    Hi Warrior Mom, welcome to the EP blog! First of all, I have to say that I’m so impressed that you have 5 kids and you also write/blog. That in itself is an achievement. 🙂

    Like you, I tend to tackle my creative pursuits at night when my son is asleep.

    One final thought: a wise woman once told me the following: “You *can* have it all. You just can’t have it all at the same time.” I’ve found it to be true, for the most part.

    Reply

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