4:38 AM

The Balance

Wrote: American Muslima Writer |

Family first has always been my motto.
If you are having children then you should be ensuring they get the best care possible.  The care that matters because it comes from YOU. Leaving children for a Nanny or Governess or DayCare to deal with while you go wax your legs or shop til you drop (for non-essential things) seems like cruelty to me. I'm not talking the parents that do this once in a while to relax a bit but the ones that chronically do this.
Another alternative to this is parents who work when they don't really have to. They spend gobs of time away from their children and family and in the end is the money they are bringing home going to fill the void the child might be feeling? Of course I'm not talking about parents who need to work to put the Halal-Turkey-Bacon on the table, but those who work because that is what they are programed to do by society no matter the end result it has on family.
There are Sooooo many factors though to this all and it's hard to make open faced judgements like these because everyone's situation is so unique. I see too many families split across the globe. Philipina mothers slaving away as maids or sales clerks with their 2-5 kids back at home with grandma. They need to work, they have mouths to feed. Yet some of them work for sheer ambition... it's hard to draw the line.
I see wealthy Arab mothers flitting from one store to the next in a large group of women, maids and babies training behind them. I have seen children literally left in carts with AND WITHOUT nannies in the middle of the Mall while the mother pops into a store for a good ten minutes.  The child without the Nanny kept staring around her looking so lost and forlorn, sitting dolefully in the shopping cart stuffed with bags as if she were no more than an inanimate object herself. I stared in horror thinking sure NOW the mother would turn around and go back to her child...okay and NOW she would?...and Now?...I guess that shoe sale was just so irresistible to wipe the memory of your child from your mind!  Finally after ten minutes or so she stuck her head out of the shop and waved the maid who had followed her into the shop to bring the shopping cart so she could place the new bags into it.  They walked onto the next shop. I stopped watching lest I vomit or commit murder.
What and where is the Balance to this?
The lines are so blurry it's hard to find which is right or wrong.
How much time Should you be devoting to your family/children?
How much time Should you allot for necessary work?
How much time Should you allot for personal improvement/relax time?

As a non-working mother I was finding it hard to separate my personal time from my family time. If I spent too much time on one thing I became cranky that I was over burdened and never saw the light of day. The whip was cracking 24/7 and there was never enough time to finish everything.
My creativity was dying and manifesting itself into other mass etc...
For a long time I put off writing my novels all together, sure and 100% certain family was more important and my novels could wait.  Yes they did wait. But I found myself writing inane stuff like in depth shopping lists for food. Finally I began this blog, I had to release my stress and somehow get my words back out. I had used LiveJournal and MySpace to vent and keep up with friends but it puttered out and I wanted MORE.
As I posted and posted I began to realize my time was importantt and I needed to allot myself time for my creativity and making more friends.  So I did, and my family life suffered a bit more. Things got less clean, meals got less tasty, children got less quality time.  And the guilt would start again.
I'm being selfish using time I could have spent with my kids.
Then on top of this began my working career, with publishing projects that took up huge chunks of time, and then getting my job. Now everything seems to be hanging precariously by strings.  No one item seems to be getting enough of the time it deserves.... especially my kids.  And it cuts me to the bone.
I love my family and it will always be number one. That is how Allah created me and that is what I've learned from living a difficult life. Every time I see my kids playing by themselves I think why am I not with them? Memories always come to me of times when adults didn't have time to be with me, and that is all I wanted, more attention, more time.  I told myself I'd be different, I'd sacrifice EVERYTHING, to make sure they got that extra attention.  And for years I did. I refused to work unless it was absolutely necessary. I put aside my dreams and aspirations (or at least toiled on them when the kids slept). We lived mostly in scraping-by-poverty. But it was worth it, watching the bond grow between me and my kids.
It stopped being worth it when I was self destructing mentally, emotionally, maritally, and physically.
It stopped being worth it when my kids wanted more to eat and there was nothing else.
I don't regret those years, but now as things are changing there had to be a new balance.
I know I need free relax time
I know I need creative time
that keeps me sane.
I know I need time with my husband separate from the kids
that keeps us stronger.
I know I need time with my kids
that makes them stronger.
I know I need time for work/society
that makes us able to live.
I know I need time for family and friends
that makes us connected.
Above All else, I need time for Allah.

But it needs to be Balanced.
Crazy rushing from one areas to the next or bypassing some areas completely leads to burnout.

The amount of work I'm doing sometimes feels worth it when I'm helping people out in the world.  Other times when I get home to find my kids asleep and only get a few hours with them in the morning it feels like utter HELL. But then when they are sleeping peacefully in their beds and I have some alone time or creative time it's refreshing. When I get that paycheck it feels good to have helped out my family and be able to take the kids out for a special treat.  But I worry and feel guilty that the special treat is a bribe for taking away their quality time with me. I love the extra time I get on the metro to write my novels or read books, but it's transport time away from my family. I adore teaching my kids and have placed the responsibility of their education on my shoulders, yet if the day gets scrambled and there is no time for that, the guilt falls to me.

It's all a giant balancing act.  Everyday there seems to not be enough time. Everyday something new happens to tip the time scales. Routines get disrupted or slightly unbalanced and the whole system must begin again.
I've wrote two long posts this week and sacrificed my Nano Novel.
I've spent yesterday recuperating my mind and heart and contributing to society and sacrificed my Nano Novel and my family.
Today I spent really quality time with my family but sacrificed my work.
Now I will sacrifice my sleep (and thus tip the scales awry for the next 12 hours) to catch up my Nano Novel.
Without my Nano Novel I'd be fluttering aimlessly creativly which would make me go mental.

It may seem madness, but this is my Balance Beam.  I'm glad I was in gymnastics so I wont fall off, but I was never in the circus to learn juggling.

4 intelligent thoughts:

UmmKhaled said...

Salam Aleikum. I was thinking of you! I wish we could have gotten together while i was in AlAin but I will be back sometime soon. So anyways I totally agree with what you write. The women in UAE neglect their children even when they are a foot away! They call the maid from another room when their kid fell 1 foot away from them and the kid gets comforted by the MAID...just terrible and they made me want to throw up. How selfish...don't have kids then ya LOSERS (going overboard by saying that but so true!) Anyways hope all is well with you. Your kids are lucky to have such a great Mom! Love Kasey UmmKhaed

Mom said...

True you might not spend as much time with the children as you would like to, but think of all the benefits you are getting by working, for them.
You just have to make the time that you spend with your children very special.
I still remember eating a Mc'Donalds lunch with you in Reid Park and seeing that butterfly!

djd said...

Hello, I have been enjoying your blog.

It is always an ongoing job to find balance, nothing stays fixed, that is one of the qualities of being alive. :-) Each person's balance will be different.

Edward Ott said...

Assalam Alaikum very interesting blog.

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