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?