I wanted to post on the subject of working as a parent long ago - but something kept me from doing it. I wanted to post a photo of a totally exhausted looking mom, black under the eyes - but I am glad I have had the full circle of the experience before sharing it.
When I first started working full-time, with two children, then 8 and 10, I first experienced the thrill of first fear of the challenge, then happiness at success when I did well. At first I had a lot of stored energy and "hunger" (as they say in MMA). I gave all my time and energy to my work to make sure I succeeded. I felt great relief after years of looking for a "proper" job that I was fulfilling my potential after years of education and temporary jobs, building up my skills from home. For the first time I was providing my own financial contribution to the family. And, I was growing very quickly in the area of my future dreams (illustration).
But as time went on, I experienced some extreme tiredness at times - when you are working 110% work and also at home to cook dinner (starting at 7pm) and keeping up with housework on the weekend - and then the guilt creeping in...
At first I did do it all, and well, but eventually my family relationships started to take strain as I spent all available time either at work. My husband, the most independent one came last. Definitely no time for friends and helping out in the community. My family's home in time became more and more dingy and dark, with no Lifegiver giving it new spirit.
I discovered what being time-poor and financially better off was really like - not very glamorous. Like having a great meal before you, but with no time to eat it. Wasteful. I bought quicker, more packaging intense foods (before I had spent heaps of time buying lower packaging / locally sourced food as possible (e.g. bringing my own containers to whole food stores, my own containers to a butcher who can fill and weigh instead of buying meat in polystyrene trays at the grocery store). Now that there was little time I sailed past the grocery store on the way home, grabbing a few expensive things in a rush. In those moments the needs of my family's survival in that time-poor environment broke my resolve to live better for the future.
I learned for the first time why many families don't take the time to think and make choices that preserve the environment. Even when you are educated and aware, having no time (being in survival mode) wears you out so you just can't.
No energy to swim against the current, to find new paths - as I always had. Energy to think..energy to fight.
I am so glad I know this now - the most difficult challenge of all - the choice of balance between making money for your family, and raising one.
In the end, in short - I took a vacation to see family, gathered energy and came back resolved to change my situation before I got worn down again. I negotiated a more family friendly workweek (only had that courage as I was willing to take any job that allowed me to have more and time with family - even if it was a demotion).
To my surprise my work was accommodating. I was then able to return my family to a healthy and fun balance when I was able to put my energy back into it (and my husband and I both had a newfound respect for the role of a mother in a family - Lifegiver, I call it).
I also realised the importance of time in people's choices of whether to spend their energy on conserving environment - whether they went out of their way to make new patterns, or to become more aware. In a way a society which keeps people really busy protects itself from change - people don't have time to think - or grow gardens! Or whatever...
Life works in mysterious ways. Although I will always feel sadness over any missed time sharing my children's magic childhood years - I am glad I have learned a key hurdle to people being able to make choices beyond everyday survival. That is, to live in a way, which is (I think a very powerful word - which cannot be overused), sustainably... for people to really fight for change - in their habits, in our choices, for our society to change we must first fight for balance and space to do so.
Two days ago with mischief I brought two little reusable containers to Sam's Butcher in Silverdale, and as the lady weighed the meat in them and I avoided buying two polystyrene (styrofoam) containers - my heart was ever so light.
These various interactions are small, but they are everyone - and everywhere.
I sincerely wish everyone luck in fighting for some of that golden precious time - life giving space.