The life of a parent is like a circus act full of interesting characters and some predictable challenges. Whether you are a single dad, stay at home mom, married with one child or multiple children, step-parent, grandparent, custodial guardian or adoptive parent, in a two working parents or a sole bread earner household, you will be in a balancing act. Some of these roles and situations seem more difficult than others. Yet, I’ve had all of these types of caregivers in my office seeking help. They are courageous to acknowledge the need to learn something different. Most are humble and do not come in with a “fix my kid” attitude.
However, when you are a working-out-of-the home parent with no support staff (maid, cook, nanny, landscaping, or butler service), then you are indeed in a very high tight-rope balancing act. Actually, when you are a parent, period, the act will be high pressure, low rewards (it seems), and high anxiety. It’s just the nature of the job–handling God’s precious children with gentle care, few instructions, in a high-strung, fast paced society, and negative self-talk based on half-truths attacking you each step of the way (Christians call this spiritual warfare).
Statistics regarding children’s success, as measured academically or behaviorally, all seem to favor those living in a married, intact, two parent family. Many of us are or know adults who come from divorced or single parent families. We’ve heard them testify to the trauma and emotional baggage they endured from their parents’ unharmonious union and breakup, so these research findings are not shocking. And yet, we have to acknowledge the individuals who, though they were raised by both mom and dad, have to suffer mom or dad’s chemical dependency, abusive home environment, the unsafe space of fire and brimstone parenting, or other dysfunctional ways of relating.
When I first started sharing with my girlfriends that I was writing a parenting book, one friend, who’s married with two kids and poses as a professional pharmacist by day, asked if I would write a book about “how to balance work and family/parenting responsibilities.” What a wonderful topic to address! I did not feel called to write about this topic at the time, but I still remember her heart’s cry. It’s been echoed by numerous Americans I hear or read about, or personally know. Many moms and dads want to know, “how do you do it?” How do you balance well the many roles and responsibilities that parents face today?
The short answer is you don’t. You just live your life and hope that nothing that falls from your juggling act is too important. Later, when you find out that something you missed or forgot from your to-do list was important, then you live your life making adjustments and amends. Consequently, you make a shorter to-do list, or you pull out your handy dandy smart phone or paper tablet and you give yourself reminders so to avoid dropping the ball again. Along the way, you give yourself lots of grace to counteract all the high anxiety, self defeating messages that parents face. You align your spiritual faith with your lifestyle and choices to feel the much coveted peace. You trust in a Higher Power greater than yourself, who created the tightrope, the ball, the beam, and the precious baby in the first place.
The long answer is you do, because somewhere, along your circus act, dropping a few balls, picking up a few more, you realize that you’ve been balancing. You just need to give yourself credit for the work done, albeit imperfectly, but done nonetheless. Your children are grown, the pie was baked, the meals eaten, the job paid, and the book written.
Oh wait, my children are not grown yet, so I better get back to balancing my acts. Thanks for reading.