Sometimes Good Enough is Just Right
I've often joked that children are the most stressful factor in a marriage, especially for those of us who juggle work and family. Rushed, conflicted and usually overwhelmed, mothers who toil outside the home feel there aren't enough hours in the day to keep up with parenting obligations, job duties and household chores. Life turns into a never-ending to-do list, a blaring alarm that's can't be quieted.
With four of my five kids out of the house, I look back at my years of heavy-duty child-rearing -- occasionally chronicled in this column -- and wonder how I ever managed. Yes, everybody got off on time morning after morning. Clothes were washed. Meals were cooked. Events attended. Values taught.
But plenty fell through the cracks. The house was often messy, the yard grew unruly and, more importantly, we missed opportunities to simply be together. At times, my sense of guilt was surpassed only by exhaustion. I learned to catnap while waiting for sports practices to end.
It seems little has changed. A new survey by the
I'm not a bit surprised. Last time I checked, there was no way to make a 24-hour day longer or to be two places at the same time.
Like me, my daughter is learning this lesson the hard way. Back at work with a new baby, she recognizes that no matter how organized she is or how understanding her boss, a job exacts a toll paid in lost sleep and time away from the spouse and child.
In contrast to mothers, 79 percent of fathers in the Pew survey preferred full-time work. They were also less likely to say they felt rushed all the time. Well, of course. Women still carry most of the household load.
These findings come at a time when women make up almost half the U.S. workforce and public opinion is more supportive of the new reality. Nonetheless, an undercurrent of doubt remains: Am I spending enough time with my kids? With my husband? What did I forget to do today? How will I get through tomorrow and the day after and the day after that?
Certainly, many women have no financial choice but to work full-time. Others who would like to slow down can't find a flexible schedule or part-time job. So they cobble together arrangements as best they can and carry on. And even as they reluctantly ferry their kids to day care, they tell pollsters, Pew's included, that too many children are being raised in these centers.
Speaking from experience, I know that working mothers eventually come to terms with the chaos in their lives. It may take years of collapsing into bed without finishing the laundry, of learning to say no to volunteer requests, of skipping a staff meeting for a soccer game (or vice versa). Over time, they recognize that, in a harried world, good enough is sometimes just right.
Baby Boomers Hit a New Low By Getting High
We were dubbed the baby boomers, but after decades of influencing everything from music to public policy, the Peter Pan Generation might be more like it. Some of us simply refuse to grow up. That forever-young attitude was underscored in two recent studies that show, doggone it, we refuse to act our age. We're engaging in the type of behavior we warn college kids about
Grandparent: It's Grand to Be a Grandparent
Without fanfare or warning, I've become the kind of woman who divides the world into those who know all about Dora and Swiper and Boots and those who don't. On a regular basis and with missionary zeal, I scour entertainment ads for "Backyardigans" shows and check newspaper listings for toy recalls. That's what happens to you when you become a grandparent
Ana Veciana-Suarez is a family columnist for The Miami Herald. Write to her at The Miami Herald, One Herald Plaza, Miami, FL 33132, or send e-mail to aveciana(at)herald.com.
(c) 2009, The Miami Herald Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.
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