Being a parent is hard. We all know that babies don’t come with instruction manuals and that in many ways, it does take a village to raise a child. But being a full-time working parent is hard on a different level. The basis of the American Dream is that we can have it all if we just work hard enough. That means if we work hard, which we all do, we can have a wonderful family and a brilliant career and life will be rosy. End of story, right? Wrong. Very wrong. Having a family and a career means that you will always walk a fine line between thinking you are simultaneously living inside a Norman Rockwell picture and dwelling somewhere in the midst of Dante’s inferno.
Having children is a full-time job. Taking care of hearth and home is a full-time job. And having a full-time job is well, a full-time job. I have never been blessed with advanced math skills, but what we have here is 4 different full-time efforts for one person. If you are lucky enough to have a partner in life, great. However, that is still 4 gigs for 2 people. Either way, the numbers don’t add up and someone is always being overloaded.
When we take on the challenges of family life and career, there needs to be a basic understanding and self-realization that there will always be something more to get done. Or more to the point, there will always be something that falls through the cracks. And for this reason we, as parents, inevitably always find something to feel guilty about. Did the laundry get put away? Did the dog get a walk today? Did I feed my children? Add your career into the mix and then one wonders almost daily if they are adding value to their place of employment.
What can we do as a full time working parents to ease our own guilt? If you don’t feel guilty at all and feel that you are balancing your life well, please come forward and tell the rest of us how to do it. I beg you. But for the rest of us who walk that fine line between having it all, and barely making it all work, what can we do to support each other and help one another realize that if we go to bed each night feeling like we accomplished one goal, however small and seemingly insignificant, we have been successful. And if all you get done in a day is keep your child nurtured and safe, you are winning.