Beyond finding creative ways to make the balancing work -- and I found it is an individual effort informed by what I gain from others -- I also learned to be fully present to savor those “mommy bliss” moments. They remind me, no matter what else is going on, that it is all totally worth it. I plan to share some here because they are key to my balance. Another key is hearing other mother’s "bliss" moments -- the next best thing to having your own.
I had one such moment recently. I blogged about our state’s art context called Reflections in an earlier post. It is a voluntary effort that runs across public schools. It has a central theme. But the kids decide what type of art work to contribute that speaks to the theme for them. I made my eldest son enter last year when the theme was "What is Beautiful." I enjoyed the finished result which gave me insights into what was beautiful in my son's eyes -- a rare treat. I found out after it was over that the contest was open to my younger son as well. I told them they would both be entering this year since they have limited options to exercise their artistic muscles with school belt tightening efforts.
The 2010 theme was “Together We Can.” We talked about it a little over the summer and they had some good preliminary ideas . .but nothing came of it. Then the school year began with all the craziness that starting 4th and 8th grade bring. We had a brief discussion in all hub bub . . but nothing concrete happened. Then about 10 days before the deadline for entries, I was leaving for India to attend a friend’s wedding. I reminded them of my expectations and stressed I would not be available to bounce ideas off so they needed to work together. They both nodded and said they understood and would do that. And they sounded so-o sincere and earnest.
I came home. And you guessed it . . nothing had come of it. At that point, the deadline was a mere two days away. I was not prepared to give up. I thought about how to make the best use of the limited time. So I suggested to my youngest he write a poem since that comes easiest to him. My eldest had his own ideas about the medium but wanted some thoughts on bringing the theme into our reality. We discussed how recycling and our family, with members from different parts of the world, were two examples of together we can.
After dinner that night, the boys got busy on their separate efforts. They both intently focused on putting together their submissions. They were adamant that they did not need any further assistance. I itched to watch the creative process in action. But I restrained myself and settled for enjoying the fact that they finally embraced the challenge. When they were finished, I was amazed at what they produced.
In viewing both, my heart melted. Like most moms, I am completely biased when it comes to my kids. But what gratified me the most was the sentiment that they genuinely shared in their very different modes of expression. What you don’t always see with motherhood, behind first the diapers, and then the homework and carpooling, is how they teach and inspire you often in unexpected ways. I am looking forward to seeing what they do next year and in their lives. My youngest brought me down to earth a bit when he said, “I hope I ‘at least get to state’ like Dimitri did last year.” And here I thought he just did it to be a better global citizen . . . good reality check.
"Together We Can" applies equally well to working moms and moms generally. For me, sharing the journey ,including the joys and burdens, makes the load lighter and the path more rewarding.