Tuesday, May 15, 2012

F.O.C.U.S. Finding Our Center Under Stress

Women have juggled their time and themselves for years trying to find an acceptable work/life balance. Most of us have been quite successful at doing so. And included under the umbrella of “family” is being a wife in addition to Mother and homemaker. Actually, if we were illustrating an organizational chart, those neat little squares might read something like this:

Put the FOCUS  on YOU!
 Business Woman and/or Homemaker
Chauffeur/ Sports Mom/Volunteer
Daughter/Sister/Friend Confidante

And so many women; especially the wives and mothers in the 30-45 year old category find themselves in a pattern just like this one. A vast majority work outside of the home either independently, or as an employee in some area, but as an aside being a full time homeworker is a 24 hr. a day job. These wives and moms are so occupied with their children and keeping the home fires burning, and wearing the daughter and sibling hat. Then there are the numerous extra-curricular activities with the children, and being the secret keeper for our friends. Sadly, being a woman and a wife comes last on the never-ending list of “things to do”. Now, if there is a wife and mother out there that can dispute this theory, then I would think that is fantastic!

What I would like to effectively point out is that society has placed a great deal of this burden on women. There is social peer pressure (the need to conform to some standards that have been dictated by socio-economic variables) and there is the self-imposed standard (the individual family dynamic) that is existential to the social aspect. There are two separate and demanding sets of requirements that are essential to the family. Although they are sometimes conflicting and seemingly impossible to meet the personal drive to give it the ole college overrides any deterrent.

No woman sets out to intentionally put herself last on the totem pole. Life happens and that’s usually the way it ends up. After the honeymoon and she settles into a comfortable routine, she becomes a mother. She takes a leave of absence from the job she dreamed of having; the one she worked hard to land so that she can be a full time Mom and get the children off to a great start in life. This is the most common reason why a successfully educated working woman takes a break from the working world.

Of course there are several other reasons. Economic situations and job related issues are just two others. Whatever the reason, once Mom comes home for an extended period of time, the harder it is for her to return. Once her uniform of the day becomes jeans and tee shirts, it’s hard for her to resume wearing tailored business suits and high heels as her daily mode of dress. What a significant number of these women wish for is unknown to their husbands and probably most of their friends and family. They don’t share this because some don’t want to seem ungrateful or they worry that they might appear to be selfish. What am I saying? Just that a significant number of women ages 30-45 who are currently out of the public worksphere are actually are ready to go back to their outside jobs.

And it’s not only for the paycheck (although that could be reason enough), but for several other reasons; all of them valid and totally realistic. Let me list a couple. She may want the daily interaction of adult conversation about some things other than what new curtains she can purchase for the living room, and she may want to use the college degree she worked so hard to earn. At the top of the list is maybe she wants to spend money that she earned.

A generous husband and a wonderful family provider is a true blessing. And on the flip side of the coin, there are lots of wives who do prefer to remain off the public work market. They have a deep sense of fulfillment as a full time Mom and place the welfare of their family as their top priority. No one can say which woman is right or wrong. Does the woman who dreams about going back to her Engineering job, or her Paralegal position, or her Marketing Consultant Firm seem selfish? Does the stay at home Mom seem non-assertive or passive?

There is no black or white here. This is filled with varying shades of gray and all of them are plausible and personal and conform to each individual family dynamic. No one looking in from the outside has the right to judge. Living in the role of acrobatic juggler just to keep a family going is hard enough without others offering up criticism about something that is none of our business anyway. Family members outside of the household and friends who “mean well” need to step aside and mind your own business. If you are going to toss in your two cents worth anyway, then make it something positive or uplifting. If you are in the role of friend or family member and you just can’t seem to keep your mouth shut, then stay at home!

My hat is off to the 21st century ultra-modern day working Mother/Woman/Wife. I salute you and all that you do! But just one little parting bit of encouragement and simply an “FYI”…be sure to make time for yourself and please…make time to be with your hubby. Don’t always put “woman/wife” at the bottom of your organizational chart. Invest in a reliable nanny or part time sitter so you can enjoy some “you” time alone and the occasional date night with the man you share your life with. It’s a solid investment and one that can only bring you huge dividends and fabulous return!

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