Moms, forget parenting bliss — just find the balance

staciaDid you know that being a mother is exhausting, time-consuming, energy-depleting and scary?

Did you know that all of those things are frequently offset by how rewarding, joyous, character-building and fun motherhood can be?

Did you know that sometimes mothers feel torn between those two extremes?

I did. And knowing them before I became a mom did nothing to prevent that torn feeling once I had my son. If you have kids, I’m sure it’s the same for you.

One of the most frustrating realizations I’ve come to in the past almost-year is that there’s no one way to be a mom, but there sometimes seems to be only one set of emotions.

The mothers I know in person or through their writing express very similar views and concerns.

Take, for instance, the issue of working full time while someone else watches your not-yet-school-aged child. Maybe you’re very career-oriented and you’re stressed about how to get the most out of your relationship with your kid and your job, without cheating either. Or maybe your job is purely to pay the bills and feed the mouths, but you still face the same time constraints and guilt.

Hear me when I tell you that you aren’t alone. You couldn’t possibly be less alone. I bet even rich and beautiful people the likes of Angelina Jolie worry about spending enough time with their kids without giving up who they are and what fulfills them.

I guess that’s the hard thing for me. With few exceptions, most mothers feel this way at one point or another, and there seems to be no avoiding it.

Some mothers swear by staying home; others insist we shouldn’t give up our access to autonomy (i.e., paychecks in our own names — the names we’ve made for ourselves). But both of these viewpoints require giving up something, don’t they? So, many of us try to have both, and often end up feeling like we’re shortchanging both.

Join play groups and support groups, the blogs say. (Um, if the issue is having enough time, how is more over-scheduling a solution?)

Talk to other moms, the support group facilitators say. (Of course, gladly — and when we’re done eating the potluck goodies and confirming that we all feel this way … ?)

Don’t try to do everything, the moms who try to do everything say.

The only bit of wisdom — if it can be called wisdom — that I can offer, based solely on what gets me through a day that involves messing something up at work, then getting home to realize there are only three diapers left, is that the balance between motherhood and livelihood isn’t struck once, but daily.

Every day, I work (either at my job or in my house), write and mother. The number of hours or the amount of intensity I put into each varies based on the daily demands of each.

The balance isn’t a magic number you find once, apply to your life, then sit back and let the bliss wash over you.

The balance is a daily goal.

The bliss comes (hopefully) when you can strike the balance more often than not.

Stacia M. Fleegal is a multiplatform journalist. See more from her at and on Twitter @shapeshifter43, or email her at

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