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The Juggling Act – Can We Have It All?

Juggling Act

  • We are commanded to work.
  • We are commanded to learn.
  • We are commanded to be prepared.
  • We are commanded to nurture and raise our children.

How do we balance everything we have and want to do? In this new Mormon Momma column, The Juggling Act, I am excited to explore how all these commandments come together in the modern LDS woman’s world, particularly in the context of work-life balance.

I believe women need to dream and carve out a corner of their hectic lives to develop themselves and their talents. I believe I am a better mother and wife and person when I make time to improve myself and stay current. I am committed to full time mothering, but I also am passionate about women staying connected in one form or another to a professional life. And if they never had one, working on the skills and education that will help them be always employable.

Do you know a mother who doesn ?t work? Or any woman for that matter? For years I have been fascinated by work; specifically organizations and their cultures, policies and politics how and why we work, inside and outside the home. I am especially intrigued by the relationship between organizations, work and families. It ?s a fascination that stretches from companies to churches.

We are going to talk about work, paid and unpaid. We are going to talk about mothering within the paradigm of work. We are going to talk about education for qualifications and for the pure joy of learning. We are going to talk about and with full-time Moms, workforce Moms, work from home Moms, empty nest Moms and Moms in waiting. And yes, we ?re going to talk about dreaming and finding the balance.

In short, we ?re going to talk about the times and seasons of having it all, over the course of a lifetime. Or an eternity. Which is where the real balance lies.

Thanks for having me here. Let ?s make this a conversation.

{ 17 comments… add one }
  • Alison Moore Smith January 11, 2010, 5:30 pm

    Welcome to Chrysula!! Great job!

  • Rebecca January 11, 2010, 9:44 pm

    I am interested in reading these articles. My quest for the new year is to find some balance. Not too long ago I lived a quiet, uneventful, solitary life. Now life is so different and busy that I average about four hours of sleep a night and I am lucky if I have a free hour every couple of weeks (and that hour usually gets gobbled up with unexpected events). I know there needs to be some way to find middle ground or at least better manage what time I am given. Right now I would love a few more hours of sleep. 🙂

  • delmar January 11, 2010, 10:29 pm

    Oooh I’m really excited about this!!!

  • Chrysula January 12, 2010, 6:48 am

    Sleep is a big one. You can do it on four hours for only so long and then, it all falls apart. We’re definitely going to talk about that! Be well…

  • agardner January 12, 2010, 7:33 am

    I’m so excited! Welcome Chrysula!

  • facethemusic January 12, 2010, 10:24 am

    It will be interesting keeping up with this column! I’m at that point in my life (kids all in school) where I’m ready to go back to school myself. Originally, I was just going to find a part-time job to supplement my husband’s income, but he really wants me to finish my degree (which I very happily and willingly put aside when I started having children). I was perfectly happy to do that– get a part-time job with the district that would give me the same days off as the kids and be here with them before and after school. Secretarial work, cafeteria, custodial, etc.
    I don’t care if what I’m doing is generally considered “menial work” if it will allow me be here when the kids are heading out the door to school or coming home from it. I’m a very FIRM believer in the counsel of the prophets that the MOST important place for me to be is here at home– to be here “at the crossroads” as so many General Authorities have put it. I REFUSE to be away when my kids are walking in the door from school, since I don’t absolutely HAVE to. That time is so crucial– they need to vent, to share the ups and downs of the day– their excitement about something they’ve accomplished, their disappointment in something. I know how much I needed and appreciated my mother being there when I walked in the door. So I don’t care what I miss “out there”– I won’t miss those moments with my kids. So that’s what I was doing– working in the cafeteria, then teaching preschool in their school, etc, because I was here with them in the morning and when they got home.
    But now that we’ve moved and are in a better, less urgent situation– in a better district and aren’t having to pay for private school– my husband really wants me to use this time to improve myself. He gave me great counsel– said he appreciates my willingness to sacrifice my personal self-improvement goals to do what’s best for the kids but that while they’re in school, I really need to take the opportunity, while it’s here, to finish my degree and pursue the things that will help me grow. He said he’d rather work more overtime himself to increase our income, so I can go to school instead of getting a job in the school cafeteria, which doesn’t really interest me or do anything to help me grow. He said “Tracy, you’re too smart and academically gifted to be making Sloppy Joe’s for a bunch of little kids! Doing that when it was necessary is one thing, but it isn’t necessary right now. You were meant for more than that.” And I burst into tears. It shows me that he’s more interested in my personal progress and interests than “added income”.

  • Alison Moore Smith January 12, 2010, 4:06 pm

    Tracy, keep us up to date on what you decided to do. You might even POST about it! 🙂 That will be awesome for you.

  • Chrysula January 12, 2010, 6:12 pm

    Tracy, I love this. You’ve encapsulated right here this idea of times and seasons to our mix of mothering, professional and educational lives. No doubt your sacrifices have reaped countless blessings to your husband and family. Sounds like you have a good man right there with you on the journey. Thank you for sharing this experience of a life’s work and where it is now taking you.

  • Alison Moore Smith January 14, 2010, 1:28 am

    I think it’s my time in life for a year of chocolate and foot rubs. What say ye?

  • Michelle D January 14, 2010, 3:03 pm

    Ahh, the infamous juggling act. Great article, Chrysula.

    For me, it seems my balance ebbs and flows with the circumstances of my life. Sometimes I have no problem juggling everything I need to do (even when I am, at times, pulled in multiple directions) and other times I’m a mess before I even climb out of bed. There have been times when I’ve been most balanced when it seems that I “should” be terribly imbalanced – and vice versa.

    Often it seems that achieving a semblence of balance isn’t so much about my activities, as it is about my emotional health and fatigue level. I am still in the process of learning that sleep is perfectly acceptable and essential “me time.”

    And I’m with Alison on the chocolate and foot rubs. It’s my time!

  • Oregonian January 17, 2010, 7:26 pm

    two good new people. that will be good. its like the old people dont blog anymore.

  • Alison Moore Smith January 18, 2010, 1:31 pm

    That’s what I was going to say, Oreg. I look forward to this because I really need it. I feel overwhelmed sometimes. Bring it on.

  • partone January 18, 2010, 1:37 pm

    That’s what I was going to say, Oreg. I look forward to this because I really need it. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed. Balance.

  • kiar January 24, 2010, 7:03 pm

    Interesting. I am at the point were I have dreams. I dream of a clean house, quiet hours of leisure and going back to school. What I have is 4 noisy but loving children that enjoy makin gmesses, and a chronic illness that is preventing me from going back to school. So, I deal. I think we can have it all, just not nessecarily all at the same time. there is a lot of give and take in our lives, and sometimes to “get” something else, we have to give up other things that we may not be prepared to.

  • Alison Moore Smith January 25, 2010, 7:30 pm

    Oh, kiar, I know what you mean. Just remember that those 4 little ones will really be gone before you know it. You have YEARS of quiet cleanliness to come!:bigsmile:

  • partone February 6, 2010, 10:24 am

    You probably know I need help with this. I’m excited to see more about how to balance stuff because I don’t think my life is balanced at all.

  • WhoIsLikeGod February 7, 2010, 12:09 am

    Elder Bruce C. Hafen taught: “To develop a sufficiently independent relationship with God requires that the private world in which we dwell in communion with him transcend the other ‘worlds’ we inhabit the world of work, community life, friends, family, and even relationships in the Church. As we gain experience in that private and personal world, we will become…” (Bruce C. Hafen, The Broken Heart. p. 104).

    The Apostle John taught: “2 Beloved, now are we the [daughters] of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every [wo]man that hath this hope in him purifieth [her]self, even as he is pure” (1 John 3:2-3).

    It may seem a little backward that a quote concerning transcending all other aspects of our lives is the opening lines of a discussion about the juggling act, ? but there are some life changing/life enhancing truths taught here that makes all the difference in the world. As we truly understand that it is life eternal, that [we] might know ?the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom [he] hast sent, ? that [we] may be one, as [they] are ? (John 17:3, 11), our goals for the gospel change. We have been taught often that it is eternal life to go to live in the presence of the Father in the family unit after we die, and become celestial parents like Him some day ?. Although this may be true to some extent, it becomes so crucial to our happiness and ability to receive an abundant and balanced life now to become converted to God and Christ. Sometimes it is the case that members are converted to the Church and believe that this means that they are automatically converted to God and Christ. Although the Church is God ?s Church, it did not bleed from every pore for the sins of the world, suffer unimaginable physical abuse and hang on the cross, resurrect from the dead, and continue to intervene in the lives of people by means of grace and power through its own merit. The Church is not the Father of spirits, whose name-title Elohim (HEB: plural for of God) connotes His spousal- ship and ability to bring forth after His own kind. The Church is a tool of God and should never be a substitute for God. Becoming converted to God and Christ means that we want God and Christ above all things (or that we want to want them that much and ask for their help to make it possible). We realize that we must learn God from God in order to become like God. This process started in pre-mortality, continues in mortality, and will become complete in post-mortality ONLY IN AND THROUGH THE ATONEMENT OF JESUS CHRIST. It was our faith in His ability to provide a way for us to become like Heavenly Father and Mother that motivated our faithfulness in the war in heaven and our decision to come to earth despite the risks. We wanted to become like God and were once willing to do whatever it took to be like Him. Sometimes in our busy lives, we think that we do know Him because we have had some spiritual experiences to manifest the reality of his existence.

    But by the knowledge of God is meant not simply that he exists and is a personal being in whose image [men and women are] made; not merely that he is a resurrected, glorified, and perfected man who has all power, all might, and all dominion; not the mere fact that he is the Father of spirits and as such lives in the family unit; rather, in addition to all this, by the knowledge of God is meant the very nature and kind of being that he is. The knowledge of God includes an understanding of his character, perfections, and attributes. If [wo]men are to become like him, they must know what his characteristics and attributes are so that they can begin the process of obtaining these very acquirements, endowments, and personality traits. As the Prophet taught: ?God became an object of faith among [wo]men after the fall, ? in consequence of which multitudes were ?stirred up . . . to search after a knowledge of his character, perfections and attributes, until they became extensively acquainted with him, ? so that they could ?not only commune with him and behold his glory, but [also] be partakers of his power and stand in his presence ? (Lectures on Faith 2:34). ? (Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, p. 169).

    As I hold fast to my conversion to God, these realization continue to be illuminated:
    1. As I allow the private world in which [I] dwell in communion with him transcend the other ‘worlds’ [I] inhabit, ? I learn to appreciate His company unconditionally. I feast upon His goodness by whatever means or degrees He sees fit to bestow at the time.
    2. It is much easier to hold fast to a God that I have come to know and trust, especially in hectic times, than it is to be the diligent super-mormon that I want to be.
    3. As I learn God from God, I realize that most of the time I have been trying to govern Him and ask Him to be sensitive to things as I see them. With this realization comes the glorious truth that God loves us so much and does everything in His power ALL THE TIME to help us receive a fullness of joy and become like Him. It is better that I sit humbly at His feet like Mary and listen, than to work myself into a frenzy like Martha by doing things according to my own agenda no matter how noble it may seem (Luke 10:38-42).
    4. As I come to know God and Infinite love, it becomes easier for me to feel good about myself, know who I am, and get the most out of the gospel tools by using them to increase my relationship with God through Christ and the Holy Spirit.
    5. The more I come to know, understand, and change through my relationship with God, the more I realize that through this conversion, my experiences at work, school, in the community, at home, and at church are greatly enhanced. Not only do I learn personal and social skill from God, but also I am able to ask Him to help me use my personal experiences, responsibilities, and relationships to strengthen my relationship with Him. As I interact with others in this way, I cannot help but to feel God ?s great love and desires for them as His being is manifesting His great love and desires for me. As I use my responsibilities this way, I cannot help but to be grateful that even changing diapers or hand washing dishes can become a piece of fruit from the tree of life.
    6. Using my life to come to know God so that I can be one with Him through the Atonement of Jesus Christ helps me to lay hold upon eternal life now. It helps me to hold up Christ as a light unto those around me (especially my spouse and children) because of the things I experience Him doing for me (3 Nephi 18:24).
    7. I have become a more effective teacher at home, in Church, and with non-members, because I focus on helping them come to know God through Christ. If something seems to not be working, then we focus on those things that are. As I become more interested in helping them use the Atonement of Jesus Christ to know God instead of converting them to the Church, then God usually provides a way for me to use the Restored tools to enhance their experience because they want more of Him and have learned to trust me as a spiritual guide. I think sometimes we get so worried that we have to make commercials for the Church, Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, and the modern Prophets every chance we get (even at Church). This is taxing mentally and emotionally, and is usually not nourishing to others. As we learn to trust God enough to put others into His hands, we find that He endorses His own tools (the Restored Church, etc.), because He has done the same for us.
    8. Jesus asks of all His disciples, if ye love me, keep my commandments ? (John 14:15). It has always been hard to me to truly love someone I do not know. As I am coming to know God and Christ, I am developing a great love and admiration for them. I want to be with them always and more fully. I am losing my desires for evil and selfishness. I am finding strength I never thought possible. I am more willing to put my life in order so that I may enjoy and reciprocate God ?s goodness in all things. I love people unconditionally and want to know them so that I can bind my self to them through Christ, like I do with the Father. I find that when I can love someone unconditionally and use that experience to come to know God more fully, I am helping them know Him more fully too. I am developing a rich desire that all things in heaven and on earth can become reconciled (Colossians 1:20); and am coming to feel naturally that I want nothing to be lost that was placed under the Savior ?s stewardship (John 6:38, 39).
    9. By giving myself to God so that He can give Himself to me, I am becoming like something I could never imagine like Him. I am feeling so pure despite my obvious imperfections and human weaknesses. I am learning to love God more than anything else, and He is enriching all aspects of my life with abundance and balance. Things don ?t always go the way I planned and most often I have to learn things the hard way, but it seems to be rolling forward and upward so much faster and gracefully.
    10. I relate to children so much better than I ever have before. It has become so much easier to teach them about God and the Church, to get them to be reverent, and to get them to contribute towards the purposes of the family. I get so much more out of my time with them and learn how to be childlike again. (Spousal relationship is personal, but ALL aspects of it are better too.)

    God is so wonderful and the opportunity we have to know Him while in the flesh is beyond description. Oh how grateful I am for the infinite and eternal sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I now know why we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost as a constant companion. I have appreciated warnings from danger in the past and answers to prayers on whether or not something was true, but nothing compares to chance we have to receive a member of the Godhead as an eternal companion (lack of a better word).

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