Thursday, April 19, 2012
Every mom is a working mom. I firmly believe that.
Some of us leave our homes to work. And others of us work from our homes. Location doesn’t determine the validity of our work. And neither does a pay check.
Unfortunately, our modern culture often doesn’t validate what we do unless we derive an income from it.
But I can’t tell someone who spends her days caring for an aging loved one that her job is less important than someone who works in a nursing home getting paid to care for the elderly.
And I can’t tell a mom who stays home every day to care for her young children that her job is less work than someone who works in a daycare and gets paid for her position.
I can’t tell a mom who teaches her children at home that her work is less valid than someone who goes into a school, teaches children there, and gets a paycheck.
I most certainly can’t tell an unpublished writer that her writing is less work than someone who has a couple books on the shelf and is bringing in an income.
No one should ever make us think any less of ourselves or our positions simply based on the location of our jobs or our income level (or lack of it).
Work is work—no matter where it takes place and whether we get paid or not.
However, if you’re like me, you want to feel validated for what you’re doing, for all of that hard work you do day after day, year after year.
Whether we get paid for our work or not, we working moms often don’t feel appreciated for all the many, many things that we do. And when we don’t feel appreciated, and when we get busy, and when things get overwhelming—and invariably they will—we tend to develop the working-mom whine syndrome.
Yes, we working moms, have the tendency to whine.
I became aware that I’d developed the whining syndrome when one of my teenage children pointed out that I was complaining a lot. (Teenage children are the experts at revealing our character flaws, aren’t they? )
And of course, once he mentioned it, I realized I had grown rather whiny—about being interrupted, about not having enough writing time, about having to play taxi-mom during my coveted writing time. You name it. I was complaining.
Now the truth is, I may not always get the kind of validation for all my work that I’d like, particularly from those closest to me. They won’t always see how many roles I have to juggle, all of the multitasking I have to do, and all of the sacrifices I have to make in order to do my work.
I can’t control their reactions.
But I can control mine. And in particular, I’ve realized that I can control my whining and complaining. Here are just a few ways I’m learning to do that.
1. Bite our tongues. Count to ten. Literally, grind our teeth together. And force ourselves not voice our frustration when we’re tempted to. When we complain aloud, we set a negative tone in our homes. Our children can even grow to resent our work because of all the negativity surrounding it.
2. Choose to be grateful. We shouldn’t just stifle the moment of frustration and stuff it down inside. Instead, in the heat of the moment we should find something—anything—that we can be grateful for. We can make a mental list of our blessings. Replace the habit of complaining with a new habit of lifting up thankful thoughts.
3. Identify one problem at a time and tackle it. Usually when we’re complaining, we need to look at our situations and find out what we can change to make things better. But we can’t change everything at once. Rather we can take baby steps.
For example, I’ve gradually worked up to four blocks of uninterrupted writing time a week. But I didn’t start with that much. I had to slowly go from having none, to now having a little bit of time at least four days a week where I can focus without too many interruptions.
4. Share frustrations at strategic times. We should be able to voice our frustrations at some point. But usually, we’ll have a better reception if we wait to share our concerns until we’re calm and can think clearly. Our family or friends still may not be able to see our perspective. We can’t make them change. But we will feel better for having attempted to explain our side.
5. Accept the hardships. Don’t try to dodge them. Sometimes we just have to adjust our way of thinking and accept that the problems won’t go away. I like this quote that I saw on Pinterest: Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.
Today, to help us all in our efforts to juggle mothering and writing, I’m giving away a copy of Suzannah Windsor Freeman’s new eBook called: The Busy Mom’s Guide to Writing. For a chance to win, leave a comment (and your email address for contact purposes). Giveaway ends Sunday, April 29 at midnight ET.
Have you ever felt unappreciated or that the work you do isn’t validated? Are you tempted to complain too much? How do you beat the working-mom whine syndrome?
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