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It's a good thing, a little off balance

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Apparently March is National Women's History Month.  Not much fanfare for this.  In fact, I'm not hillary clinton and national women's monthsure I even knew it existed.  (And, oh please, if you have worked on this or are involved, no disrespect intended).  In the interest of supporting this celebratory note for all of us gals, I can shed a bit of history with you - we are tired.  No matter when they came through, or what period of time they lived, women of all types and ages and ranges are simply pooped.

Now I get it, men are too and we all do too much.  But I dare say there has never been a time in history where so much is expected out of us females.  As a Mom to three girls (one daughter and two step-daughters), I try to paint the reality for them that they will soon face - it's their journey and it's their job to balance for themselves.  Many of us fail miserably at this, I can't think of one friend, relative or neighbor that is in perfect "balance".

DISCLAIMER:  reference "balance", someone who is content and comfortable with where she is and what she does and how she handles ALL things.

It feels as if there is this quiet expectation to do it all, not just work and be a mom but it feels larger than that,  as if we are supposed to be like Elizabeth Dole or Hillary Clinton creating powerful careers and really making a difference; Martha Stewart, with homemade goodies and baskets of fresh flowers strewn about the house (the same house that offers incredibly organized and well groomed cabinets and shelves); a Victoria Secret's model with a curvy body and even after giving birth to several children, the all important abs of steel and triceps of stone; a PTA Mom that never forgets to sign a report or volunteer for a quick hour or two when needed (and nurtured personal relationships with teachers to help usher her children through school appropriately); and a great entertainer, well put together, pretty much happy and smiling all the time. 

Now.

That being said I will share that my sense is we women are the hardest on ourselves.  I would bet that most households (including spouse and children) would be totally cool if we scaled back on the expectations and were ok to just say "I just can't" or "not sure I need to do that" or really look inside and be ok with who we are and where we sit.

It's such a tough balancing act and I wonder about the struggles of our ancestors, the women who worried about feeding and clothing their children, or guarding against free flowing disease and illness that captured so many so quickly.  It all goes back to what is important and how to define our priorities.

Thanks to psychologist Abraham Maslow and his hierarchy of needs, we would start with the basics of food, security and safety and work up from there.  Now that we do indeed have our freedoms, the journey is back on us and we need to figure this out without taking on guilt and shame and remorse. 

And we need to stop judging.   Someone mentioned to me last week that they couldn't get over how poorly a friend kept house and were buzzing about it a bit, as this particular mom doesn't work full time.  My gut level response was, who the heck cares?  The role we play to support each other should be just that, to support each other and not to compare, contrast and pull each other apart in our assessment of who is doing what and how we stack up.  Silliness.

It seems perspective is always my best friend.  How about the fact that we have these freedoms?  It's tough for sure. Today's environment offers a new set of challenges to face and maybe the real answer is learning how to manage all of this while shifting priorities and responsibilities around.  What worked before doesn't work now. 

Things are moving, changing and we are growing.  How wonderful.  How scary.  To help out, I made a little chart that provides insight into our decisions.  Listed on the left are expectations, unspoken as well as my personal expectations (which may or may not align with yours) and then I added criteria of ?How I stack up? and lastly how much priority I give the expectations.

Expectations

How I Stack UP                    

Priority                   

 

Elizabeth Dole or Hillary Clinton

   
 

Martha Stewart

   
 

Victoria Secret Model

   
 

PTA Mom

   
 

HAPPY all the time!

   
 

Wife - Supportive spouse, loving, honest

   
 

Mom ? Nurturing, teaching, guiding

   
 

Sis/Daughter ? Helpful, considerate family member

   
 

Friend ? Generous and thoughtful

   
 

Professional ? Hard working, dedicated, striving to grow

   

Wow.  I realized that I change this daily in terms of how I stack up. So it's not bad or good or tough.  It's simply life.  Feeling better already, I am going to print this out and put it in my personal items folder I carry around with me that includes goals, affirmations, etc. as a reminder that we are all indeed in balance.  After all, we all show up every day and do the best that we can.  That in itself should be recognized.  And embraced.  A hug to you.

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Kim Roman Corle is the author of several books including WOW, Wipe Out Worry, a guide to managing worry in 7 practical, easy steps, a guide to raising teenagers in the new millennium and an upcoming book, which focuses on ‘Life Lessons You Might Have Missed.’ She speaks to concerned parents and provides coaching to women and families struggling to overcome verbal and emotional abuse.
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