Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Work Life Balance or The Lies Contemporary Mothers Tell Themselves

The Pros think I need to spend less time with my children. The "Pros" are my therapist and my sister who thinks I'm too good a mother and should let my kids watch more TV.

Well, my daughters are far from deprived of television but I think I get my my therapists point.

As an actress, writer, teacher and small business owner my schedule is unpredictable and jam packed.

I teach twice a week, go to auditions, book jobs, run my business, blog, and various other things that keep all my careers afloat.

Basically, I work full time (as far as the commitment and focus I put towards my career) but I don't need to be any one place every day to do it,

I spend a good deal of time with my girls. A good deal. Yes, maybe too much.

I'm also a wife who loves her husband and actually likes spending time with him. What a concept.

When I think of the term "work-life balance" (which has received much attention lately due to an article written by Anne-Marie Slaughter) I imagine there should be an equal distribution of time devoted to both. Which is impossible.

I also figure if one of those things is going to suffer it had better be work and not my life; primarily my children. Let's face it: When women think work-life balance they are rarely including genuine time for themselves, which is why trips to the gynecologist or dentist start to hold the same appeal as spa treatments.

Recently, I wasn't going to attend an important work function (which by the way could serve the dual purpose of being fun "me" time) because work had been very busy and I felt like the babysitter was starting to get top billing in my household.

After a considerable amount of back and forth (mostly trying to talk myself out of wanting to go) I decided to attend the event. This meant that I was gone an entire day as well as an entire evening.

Lo and behold, twelve hours away from the girls made me much more available for them in mind and spirit throughout the rest of the week.

I was more patient, less tired, and more able to fill the three to six o'clock bewitching hours most mother's would pluck their eyelashes to avoid.

Equal distribution between work and life is a myth. It's the imbalance (for instance twelve hours away) that creates balance. Ultimately the balance is internal not external.

Another topic that has been getting attention lately is the question of whether women can "have it all."

We are all still stuck on that commercial where the sexy woman brings home the bacon, fries it up in a pan, and never ever lets him forgets he's a man. Thanks a lot Enjoli.

That spot has done more damage over the years than the smell of that cheap perfume. It demanded that women be plate spinners on par with circus freaks. And because the model was a pretty blonde (the ultimate ideal) women aspired to be her. They bought it. (I don't know if they bought Enjoli but they bought the lie.)

I don't think women can have it all because I don't even know what that means.

It's such an American ideal that the benchmark of life is having it all. It completely negates the individual and demands that everyone's goals should be the same.

I always tell my oldest, "Be happy with what you have."

Most parents don't teach our kids to expect to "have it all".

We teach them about patience and priorities, delayed gratification, and give them a sense of the big picture.

We need to parent ourselves and live by the same ideals.

Otherwise we are going to be drained, unhappy, crazed, and always feel just out of reach of the "Enjoli-ideal" which was a commercial NOT life.

1 comment:

Patricia said...

Beautifully written! What the hell is "all" anyway? I don't want it "all" I don't have enough storage space! I just threw away a bunch of my "all" so I could make space for important people.
Be happy with what you have. Great advice! I think MY mother told me that when I was growing up.