by Katy Carpman, Director of Religious Education
Originally published in the February issue of the Emersonian.

In our Sacred Texts year, we are finishing up a study of the Tao Te Ching and moving into the stories of women in sacred texts. Of course, we can find meaning and questions in any text or story we encounter.  I face challenges with a magazine.

For some reason he can’t explain, my teen son has a subscription to Working Mother. It is all about the myth of Balance.  How you can have a career, a clean house, nutritious meals, sweet and productive children, AND something of a social life!

The ads tell us the secret comes with buying the right brand of juice or yoga mat or shoes.  The articles are heavy on numbered lists to achieve our goals.  To be fair, they most often advise that perfection is not only impossible but unnecessary.  But often the magazine heads to my recycling bin unread—I could spend an hour flipping through it, or I could start some laundry and get an update on the kids’ science project.

So, what is The Way for a parent today?

  • Accept that this “balance” thing is more like surfing—a big ebb and flow.  Some weeks you’ll pull off great feats at work, but miss some nights of tucking the kids in.  Another week you’ll be working from home while your child has a fever, lice, or a court date.
  • Children can learn positive and realistic lessons as they watch you find your way.  None of us has only one identity, and we need to honestly share both our triumphs and our struggles.
  • Accept help wherever you can get it.  Sometimes this means hiring out, but often it means clear
  • Communication with the people you live with.  Do not underestimate what children can do to help the family!
  • Take a little time for joy—with our family and without.  What are you looking forward to this week?  When was the last time something beautiful took your breath away?
  • And finally, from my own experience—change out of your nice clothes before starting dinner prep.  Grilling in heels isn’t fun, and spatters only hit favorite outfits.