Are You Feeling Torn as a Parent?
Conscious parents often carry an incredible amount of stress and guilt related to the conflicting desire to be world-class parents and do positive world-changing work simultaneously. We caught up with Samantha Parent Walravens, author of Torn, a book about the conflict of modern motherhood and a career, to get her insights on this. Samantha has a unique perspective on modern motherhood because she is not only a married working mother of four, but has also interviewed and researched the lives of many other women in various life circumstances about the conflict between the need to nurture and the need to work.
1) What’s your perspective on entrepreneurship vs. salaried/hourly work when it comes to mothers feeling torn?
One of the contributors to TORN said it best:
“On the positive side, running my own business allows me to make my own hours. I have the flexibility to go to their school concerts and stay home with them when they are sick. On the negative side, I get to make my own hours. So I work all the time. To quote another of my kids’ Mother’s Day poems, ‘Click click click, hear the sound of Mommy’s mouse. Click, click click.’ Yeah, I get the message.”
- from Cathleen Blood’s story, “Mother’s Day Is Not for Wimps,” in TORN
2) What’s the best advice you’ve ever received when it comes to balancing romance, work, and motherhood?
Get the support you need at home — with the kids and the household duties– and STOP feeling guilty all the time. ASK your managers for what you need to be successful at work and at home– be it flexible hours, work-from-home options, paid maternity leave, or, hey, even a raise!
With regard to romance, I believe that couples need to put their marriage first– even before their children. My husband and I have had a set date night since my first child, now 14 years old, was a baby. We take time for each other, and as a result, our marriage has lasted for 17 years and counting. Our kids – we have 4, ages 14, 12, 8 and 4– see that we love and respect each other. Although they don’t always like it when we go out together and leave them with a babysitter, they understand that it is important for their parents to spend time together.
Here is what I wrote in a recent article for the Huffington Post:
“With everything that couples have on their plates today — kids, careers, ailing parents, financial stresses — it’s hard to put marriage first. It may be politically incorrect to say this, but marriage must come first — even before your kids. A couple that’s been married for 50 years told me that they always spent the first 20 minutes when the husband came home from work alone together, talking and having a cocktail. The kids had to go in the other room. It’s okay to show your kids that your marriage comes first.”
3) What’s your vision for the future when it comes to the next generation of modern motherhood?
I’m counting on future generations to enact some big changes when it comes to the work-life juggle. Women of my generation, Generation X as we are called (born between 1965 and 1980), have placed an enormous burden on ourselves to “have it all”: kids, career, marriage, a house in the suburbs, and more. Somewhere along the way, “having it all” morphed into “doing it all,” far from the “liberation” our feminist foremothers fought for. I’m hoping Gen Yers will ask for better pay, more flexible working hours, paid maternity leave and other conditions that allow them to be productive at work and at home. And I’m hoping workplaces will do a better job of accommodating the needs of working parents- women and men. This is not just a women’s issue.
Thank you Samantha for sharing your insights about the delicate balance of work, marriage, and parenting in modern times!
If you enjoyed this interview, Join the Unconventional Parents Community to get more great wisdom like this to help you on your journey to develop guilt-free positive momentum as a spouse, a parent, and a happy person producing great work.
Discover More Modern Motherhood Wisdom from Samantha
Samantha Parent Walravens is an award-winning journalist, writer and mother of four children. Her new book, Torn: True Stories of Kids, Career and the Conflict of Modern Motherhood, was chosen by the New York Times as the first selection for its Motherlode Book Club, and reached #1 on Amazon.com for books in the Motherhood category. She has appeared on the Today Show and has been interviewed by NPR Radio, ABC News Radio, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. Her writing has appeared in publications including the Huffington Post, Salon.com, PC World, Yahoo! News, Healthy Women and several “mommy blogs.” Samantha is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Princeton University and has a Masters in Literature and Women’s Studies from the University of Virginia.
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