Managing the seesaw of mothering

2014-01-20T17:00:00Z Managing the seesaw of motheringCarrie Steinweg nwitimes.com
January 20, 2014 5:00 pm  • 

For several years now, there’s been this misconception that modern moms have the opportunity to have it all in a balancing act that involves working and parenting and maintaining a good marriage and keeping a house in top notch shape and doing all the other things life requires of us. “Balance” has been the buzzword and it implies that all facets of life can be given equal weight and importance and all done at a satisfactory level, if not higher.

It’s true that women in this era have more opportunities than any other in history. Women today can do so many things that were restricted of previous generations. It applies to education, to being in the workforce, to parenting. And while some women can be admired for taking on a lot in every area, it’s likely that not everything is going perfect in every part of the equation. And that’s not due to these moms being incapable of handling it all or doing it improperly. When it comes down to it, it’s nothing more than the mere 24 hours allotted in a day and the fact that there’s simply not time to do it all to perfection.

In reality, there’s no balancing everything in our lives and giving it 100% simultaneously. It is more accurately a seesaw or a teeter-totter, where from time to time one area gets more attention than another. When things are hectic in the work world, it might require additional hours or make us preoccupied at home. When a child has a birthday coming up or a science project due, more time and attention is directed there. Sometimes it means taking it one day at a time and accepting that at different times different areas of our lives might require a little more of us than at other times. These days it is also more than parenting, work, marriage and home. There are often other things thrown in. Volunteering. Kids’ extracurricular activities. Elderly parents who might need help. Chauffeuring kids around. There may be illness in the family. Maybe there isn’t a marriage to tend to, but the added difficulties of navigating as a single parent. Today’s parents have a lot on their plates.

When something is on the up-side of the teeter-totter, other obligations might have to slide down a little. There’s nothing wrong with that. It doesn’t make our kids or our marriage a smaller priority. It doesn’t mean work isn’t important. It’s life. It’s time. It’s how it works.

If you’re thinking that you see people who are doing that balancing act and that it can be done, you are right to some extent. It can be done for a while, but not forever. Think of someone balancing a stack of plates or a spinning basketball on a finger. At some point it falls down. It doesn’t stay up there forever. Balance isn’t permanent. At some point something has to give. One thing goes up a little and one moves down a tad and if you can accept that and adjust to it, it can make the seesaw an easier ride.

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