In Balance is a Bitch, I recently wrote about moms being immersed, about the struggle to achieve a life/work ‘balance’ that works, and about what our kids learn by watching us do work we love. Older moms like me, caught between two parenting paradigms — the baby boomers and the millenials — need to hear this message about sculpting our own “balance.”
We older moms are established in our careers or professional/artistic paths, solid, and tired. This very special position is an exhaustingly rich one, and one we recognize as a gift of this historical moment like none before. And our kids are seeing new possibilities in what it means to age, to be a working woman, to be a mom. But we are ready for a new metaphor — to help us be happy, to help us conceptualize the often incongruent projects of parenting and careering, and to help us see our pattern and be okay with it.
The heartfelt comments that y’all wrote on “Balance is a Bitch” led me to think of the big long swinging turns of giant slalom skiing: GS turns, strong and loving the turns, always in motion, first one way then the next. Choose a word that fits your style: Braiding, three strands twisted around one another inextricably: working, parenting, and the self. Or weaving: one atop another over-under then under-over — many strands, colors, patterns, working together. The pendulum has been my term (until the GS turns). I go through periods of rocking parenting, and of being average, and of needing help. Success at working, for me, is usually in inverse proportion to my success as parenting.
And that is okay.
Methuselah moms, fear not. We have it “all.” Where the ideology trips us up is in imagining that everything is always perfect — and of course it’s not, not in real life. Not always.
Imperfection does not mean it’s never good nor that it is effortless. And in those moments of seeming failure, when we can’t gracefully patch everything together, those are the most important ones for our kids — because of what happens next. You know what that is? You bounce. You get a grip. You rewind, apologize, hire someone to do it, just do your best, laugh at yourself, cry on someone’s shoulder, or reach out to a friend. Knowing what to do is important; having coping skills is essential. And imperfection gives us constant opportunities to model coping skills to the littles.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your braid or pendulum, or if you want someone in your corner strategizing, reach out to me at Funnermother@yahoo.com. We can have a chat and see if we could work together on brainstorming, making some systems that work, or talking through what it means to bounce.