I Can't Have it ALL at THE SAME TIME!!!!
Updated: Oct 26
I used to read in magazines and major newspapers of successful women juggling career and family and they claimed to have made it worked for them. They have a thriving career which they are passionate about while also maintaining/managing a happy family. I used to make that my life goal, I believed that I can do that too.
Now, I believe IT IS a DELUSION and a glorified toxicity !!!
I am doing as much as I can and still can't have it all at the same time! I'm happy that some of us ladies managed to successfully have it all; a happy loving family, a passionate career, an active social life, well taken cared elderly parents and quality time for yourselves.
As for me, there seemed to be endless maneuvering, juggling between my roles of being a mother, daughter, life partner, counsellor, business partner, a homemaker and the Self. All these 5 roles are always at the forefront before the Self and they seemed to be more important most of the times at least on a daily basis.
A brief review of my life roles:
My son; he's turning 7 this year and he is wild! A high-spirited child who always goes against collective common sense. He is exercising his autonomy and his parents are his enemies who are stopping him from reaching his goals.
So, this thing called parenting is at the front seat from the time he is awake up to his bedtime. Fortunately, I do get some breaktime since he is schooling now. But then, there are the school demands to be fulfilled too such as classroom misbehaviour (he is wild! and I am the parent who gets called in for meetings), parent-child activity (book reading), countless emails from school to keep Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash you informed of my child's activities, and various mini workshops/initiatives to participate so I can be an "involved parent" (from the school front).
And when my boy is struggling academically and socially, that is also
where I put on my thinking cap on to help him get back on track with extra help academically because if not, he will not be engaged and participate proactively during class times (one of the teacher-parent meeting agendas).
On his social and emotional development, I am lucky to have the knowledge to understand his struggles, and am equipped with the tools to help him understand his emotions and ease into social demands with his peers. So, this part of being a parent at times gives me tremendous challenge because with every puzzle solved, there will be new puzzles in the making...
My dad who's staying with me, well... He's an independent old soul but still... being the sole caretaker of your own parent comes with its own package. There are times where his health isn't that great and I will need to step in to make sure he gets better. I will be his chauffer and personal assistant on-call.
Dad, being the oldest in the household, he "tends" to know more about parenting and that is where our opinions clashed and feelings got hurt. There were so much to argue with him about parenting styles that I learnt to choose my battles wisely so not to hurt his feelings that much.
What I learned is I can't counsel my dad because he changed my daipers and I will always be his baby who doesn't know much about the world/life. So, no point fighting a losing battle over and over again as the outcome is always the same which leads to him feeling unheard and small.
So, being the filial daughter, I listened, hold my tongue, and ACKNOWLEGED his point of view by paraphrashing, reflecting, and validating his POV (that's the counsellor skills in action).
Viola! Situations changed, the Goldie (my dad) is more settled, and empowered because he too wants equal rights to voice his thoughts. Mind you, it took me months to figure this out and sometimes I relapsed into my rebel self.
Now, with the partner in crime, I am blessed to have his unrelentless support in all my undertakings and at the same time, it is a curse! That means I make all the decisions in parenting because "I'm the know all" as he claimed and he's the follower, and follower needs clear instructions to execute tasks. Imagine the amount of mental load to plan and make sure there is execution in place as well as numerous discussions when the "follower" who also at times has his own ways of doing things. In this path, there are so much to unlearn from my own experience where the old ways of doing things don't work now and the process of relearning new ways to make things better.
Lucky me, we have almost same values in life and understand that it is going to be a difficult journey to sustain our families and at the same time our relationship as life partners. We have open discussions and many disagreements but we find our way back to each other.
And, my career as a practicing counsellor carries an obligation to my clients in which I will give my utmost attention and presence for the time they are with me. To harvest the fruit of my labour, I need lots of heartwork and energy to truly be present, to experience their life story, to walk alongside with them and to be the process consultant they needed.
My learning doesn't stop after graduation and yet amplified with continuos trainings to be more efficient and spot-on. My work is my passion which is growing everyday, and at times I need to press the pause button if there is any to catch my breath.
Besides the jobscope of a counsellor, there is also the business elements to manage as an entrepenuer. The planning, budgeting, marketing, and creating the awareness of mental health all fall down to both my partner and me (I am lucky I have a partner to journey together).
These are on-going processes which are needed to maintain and grow a private practice and we have been around for 5 years now. While juggling all my roles, it does not allow me much room to flex so we juggle our tasks with open communication and peer support all the time. My partner is my backbone and my accountability partner.
Last and not the least important on the list, my role as a homemaker. I make sure all utilities and bills are paid, the fridge is filled with fresh food, we have sufficient detergents, toilet paper, tissues so the household runs smoothly.
Luckily my Goldie cooks and helped out with some daily doable chores which is a great blessing to me and we have weekly cleaning services to do thorough cleaning.
So, this me, doing mostly all and not having it even near to all at the same time! How ironic.
So, where do I fit in? Where am I? The "I' seems to be reduced to a size so small that even a microscope might find it hard to detect. This is when frustration kicks in...At times, I just want to throw in the towel, wave the white flag and slump myself on the sofa staring blankly into oblivion, letting my thoughts bring me back to my previous life where it's only me and me alone. Such blissful thoughts that warms my heart sometimes... At least I have savoured it and now I am in a different stage; challenging and rewarding
Alas, all these may sounds bad, and some of you may have had it even "badder" than me but there are always good amidst the chaos... Only when we zoom-in to the small successes we achieved. There is gratitude on all the work I put in which bore positive progress. I realised having it all at the same time is not the endgame. Just like happiness is not a destination but the direction, the compass to life. And life is meant to be engaged and experienced with all our senses.
A reminder to all of you who are struggling now, you are not alone. Even a mental health practitioner can't have it all at the same time! (if that helps, I welcome you to my gang)
Things that I reflected upon and is the most salient was I forgot about the "I". While the "I' is doing so much in the service of others whom she values, she was not doing things for herself, am I not valuing myself? Another irony...
5 Must Ask Questions for a Happier Life
So, amidst the "doings", I squeeze in some time to ask myself these 5 questions and pledged to do something about "not having it all" eventhough I'm doing mostly all. This is not a FAQ but a MAQ (Must Ask Questions):
Am I important?
What am I telling myself daily (my monologue)?
What am I feeling in my body?
How am I experienceing myself in my reality?
What do I need ?
Long story short, I started doing things for myself. I started with answer "yes" to question 1 above. I have a simple self-audit session in my mind and to bring them into consciousness, I used a planner which I designed intentionally to make sure I don't missed out the "I". It is a self-care planner. I'm a visual person, if I don't see it I forget about it, so it is natural that I didn't see myself when I doing things in service of others who are important in my life.
So, with baby steps, I scheduled chiropractic and physiotherapy sessions to help with my body aches. I started taking supplements to enhance my physical well-being. I intermittent fast 2 or 3 days a week. I journal my experiences consistently. I go out for dinner/lunch dates whenever there are pockets of free time, I meet-up with friends over a nice dinner once in 2 weeks, and even made new connections participating in networking sessions.
Doing all these for myself did not come naturally. I had to struggle with the guilt of not fulfilling some tasks at hand (that comes with the monologue of ÿou're not doing enough") and I constantly reminded myself of my commitment to the "I" from the above MAQ. I started with one task for the "I", then I assessed the outcome, I felt good, and I added another one and felt even better. So, I developed a self-care routine for myself. And now, this routine is a constant and is integrated into my reality. I am still swamped with loads of tasks in my to-do list but I do not feel frustrated anymore because I take care of myself too. I felt the balance, I'm not neglected. It is doable.
My hope for you who are struggling right now, Listen to yourself, your body, your feelings/emotions and your mind. They are your clues to your well-being. You might be hesitant, you may be flooded with guilt but think again... You need fuel to run the marathon and self-care is the pit stop. Refuel, replenish and return. You can't run with an empty tank.
If you're still struggling to find your balance, do approach a mental health professional to help you to reorganise yourself. We all need some help at some point of our lives.
P.S : This blog post was a continuation (procrastination or just too exhausted?) from a 3 year-old draft post at the time where I was struggling to fit everything in life into a plate. I was feeling frustrated and confused for not achieving the goals I had in mind.
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