Support hose... you know what I’m talking about, right? They are flesh-colored and typically worn because of circulation issues.
Yeah, well, they are ugly as all, that but the support is reliable and foolproof! (You just pray that you never need them.)
Well, on a rare moment when I had nothing to do, I started Google-ing my favorite topic: working moms. It’s sort of like putting your ear on the railroad track; you can hear the rumbling from miles away. I was not surprised by the number of articles that echoed the same message: working moms need more support. One of the articles I read suggested that working moms need a wife! And I’ll have to admit that at times, this suggestion can seem like an appealing option.
The support that seems to be needed comes in three distinct categories:
That, by the way, is never a good idea. I realize just how antiquated this sounds, but when you consider that “women’s liberation” was only a mere 35 years ago (give or take), it is totally understandable that real examples of how to balance home and work are not easy to come by.
But don’t lose hope! Here are some easy steps you can take to get the support you need right now:
Adjust. Purge. Adjust again. You may, for a short period of time, want to adjust your view of what a clean and organized house looks like. Schedules are complicated, and you may not be able to give the amount of detail as you once did (before family, business trips, etc.) It’s not defeat; it’s reality.
This leads to the next step: the purge. Do you really need everything you have? Stuff creates clutter, and clutter is an energy vampire.
It sucks your time, your psyche, and your overall outlook. After you’ve done the purge, adjust again. Set a schedule for cleaning, and enlist the “all hands on deck” motto – never too early to get the kids enlisted – and then test it out for a week or two and see how it’s going. You can always rinse and repeat the process!
Uncomplicate! I know the routine all too well! After work, you get slammed with practices, games, dance lessons. Here, too, you need to adjust. In my neighborhood there is an unspoken expectation that the more activities you have your kids enrolled in, the better parent you are. This shocked me when I moved out to the 'burbs! I was just unwilling to have dinner – aka fast food – in the car between activities when I was aching to get home, have some down time and enjoy just “being” with my kids.
Adjust, choose. It’s up to you. I know at times the squeeze is unavoidable. If you can, double up with another parent, barter or pay someone to do the driving around. I know I felt bad that the stay-at-home mom would get stuck carting my kid around because I wasn’t home from work in time, but then I would treat her to her favorite latte, magazines or a night out when I’d watch her kids.
Don’t suffer in silence. Seek out the support you need!
Play the game. There are some great companies out there who have very flexible work schedules, back-up day care, job sharing, telecommuting, and a host of other options to help you be your best at work. If your company is not up to this speed yet, I understand the challenges you may face. When I’d have to leave early because my child was sick, if it happened more than two times in one month, I would say the appointment was for me. I didn’t want to be looked down upon because I had kids who needed me. I did not feel like I was being authentic, but I knew because of the environment I was in, that I was doing what was best for everyone. And you do too.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you need to make certain decisions – within reason of course – to help you manage the rigors of your work life and family life.
It’s a classic dilemma: which came first, the chicken or the egg? Have you ever gotten an answer that makes any sense?
I find the same complexity in the question: how do I let things go? People talk all the time about letting go of emotions and things that no longer serve you, but can it really be that simple? Especially when you feel wronged or someone has hurt you?
Letting go of strong emotions, or the need to be right (of course, I’m right and you’re wrong!) in a particular situation, can feel like trying to move a 1,000-ton boulder out of the road so you can pass!
Now, keeping with the boulder scenario for just a moment, imagine it represents that thing, event, or emotion that you are holding onto. What would your life be like if you couldn’t move that boulder out of your way?
I will tell you that some people carry that invisible boulder on their shoulders, no matter how hunched over they get. They unwittingly create future experiences with that boulder in tow and allow the shadow of this great boulder to shade the brightness of new opportunities. They compensate. Compensating looks like settling for less than who you are and pretending that you're not. The worst part of it is that you are not being honest and authentic with you. Continue on this road too long and you can lose your zest for being who you were meant to be.
Others stay stuck in time. They try to roll it, move it, hoist it, and push and push against the boulder that won’t budge. And out of sheer exhaustion, they give up and sit down beside it, never moving forward.
So, what are you carrying, holding, pushing up against that needs to be let go of? Could you choose another way?
I like to enlist the power of my imagination when I am stuck in a situation and feel as though I don’t have the power (even though I really do!) to stop thinking, believing, or buying into something that isn’t serving me.
Here are some quick tips on how to remove (or shift) that boulder from your life:
1. Say Good-bye
Is the boulder (emotion, event, thought) serving you? Here’s how to find out: Close your eyes and think the thought or feel the emotion. If it feels heavy (sadness, shortness of breath, constricting) then it isn’t serving you. If it feels light (free), then perhaps you have learned all you need to learn from the situation, and now it’s time to give yourself permission to fully (and ceremonially) say good-bye.
If it is too hard to fully let go or you feel that if you do let go that you will be losing a part of your identity, ask yourself, “Am I willing to shift or morph the feeling, situation or event?” This means finding something positive or something you have gained from the boulder’s existence. Once you’ve found that, it’s time to change the landscape of the boulder. Using your imagination, perhaps you could plant some flowers around the boulder or paint a mural on it (it’s your imagination and your boulder, so have fun with it!).
If you are really ready to let go of the emotion, event or thought that is no longer serving you, you can:
Make Love...Not War!
The debate of working moms vs. stay-at-home moms is yet again rearing its ugly head. On Fox News, in the New York Times and many other news outlets, she vs. she is once again the hot topic. It may be surprising to some, but credible research already supports the fact that children of working moms are not at a disadvantage amongst their peers whose moms stay at home. So why more controversy and concern?
First, motherhood IS work. Period. It is the hardest, yet the most rewarding “job” on the planet. Secondly, isn’t it amazing that women actually get to choose? I suppose certain life circumstances may not feel like an actual choice. But whatever the path -- staying at home, working at home, working part-time, working outside the home – women are all a part of the same sisterhood, and as such shouldn’t we be there supporting one another? Each time there is a debate – and debates bring up all different points-of-view and ways of looking at things – hopefully, our eyes are opened wider, and we see progress, support and understanding.
For the record, I believe I am a better mom because I have worked. I have worked all of my adult life. Were there times when I thought I couldn’t bear another day of commuting and office politics? Absolutely. For instance, when my son was 4 and he had several emergency hospital stays resulting in his diagnosis of a chronic kidney condition, I wanted nothing more than to just be by his side – and I did.
Coincidentally (ah, yes, there’s no such thing as coincidences!), when the most challenging time in my life was unfolding, I had also been promoted to Vice President – the thing I had worked to achieve my entire career. But it paled in comparison to what was happening in my personal life at the time. I remember thinking how insignificant it felt after I had placed so much importance on it.
I’m not downplaying the achievement – for a kid from Brooklyn who didn’t go to college, this was the cherry on the cake! But compared to what my baby was going through, it was nothing.
This taught me 2 things:
1. Things and circumstances only hold the specific value we give them.
2. My self-identity was complex and a dichotomy of feelings.
This was an example of extremes, but there are professional women who feel this tug-of-war every single day. Our families are pulling us on one end, and our career is pulling us on the other. It’s easy to get lost in between both worlds, feel isolated, and that we aren’t doing a good enough job at work or at home.
Instead of trying to put “women back where they belong” as has been suggested in the news recently, perhaps it is a rally call instead. A call for all women – no matter their choice or circumstance to join a circle of solitude where there is plenty of room for individual choice and support. A call for corporate America to establish more policies that uplift professional moms (and dads too), so they feel empowered and good about their decisions.
I believe the day is coming. We – collectively – can make it happen, so that our daughters and sons will see a future of greater shared responsibility, love and respect.
This is my son and his 6th grade castle project! This was a labor of love (well, sort of) and it definitely took a village. The project was a part of his social studies review of Mediaeval Times. Each child made their own interpretation. It was truly amazing to see all the different castles that had been created. Some were made of styrofoam, others printed out brick patterned paper and glued to the exterior of a cardboard box, and a particularly crafty child used hair gel atop blue paper to simulate the water around the castle moat.
What I appreciated the most about this project was that it was not a competition. There was no judging of whose castle was bigger or better than the next. Rather each child had the opportunity to express their individual vision (with a little help, of course) and have it come to life.
So it left me with a question that I’d like to ask you:
How uniquely you would you show up in the world if you knew you would not be judged?
Ask yourself this question as you pick out clothes and you ready for your day. Or when you have the opportunity to speak up in a meeting but then hold back.
How uniquely you are you willing to show up today?
Paula G. Rosario
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Laura West, President & Chief Creative Officer, www.centerforjoyfulbusiness.com