At the conference in Chicago last week it is lunch time. The lunch has been set up as a buffet and I find myself with 4 strangers.
We are all 4 - WOHM and that too in the busy busy field of Consumer Research
We have just attended a presentation by Campbell Soup.The presenter has talked about how difficult the question " what's for dinner?" is for moms. Moms across their mommy-career will face and answer this question on an average more than 10, 000 times. This question basically involves 20 decisions on an average - like what is there in the pantry , how much time there is to cook, how long has it been since we last had this meal, what else needs to be done in the evening etc etc
We start talking - 4 strangers - about what mommyhood has meant for our workload.
One person quotes this article that says that if a person is asked -
"what gives you the most happiness - work or personal life?- you would always get the answer- personal life?"
But in the research he asks people to press the happy button throughout the day when they are happy and a gadget records their happy signals and co-relate them with what they are doing.
The findings of the research are surprising and suggest that in fact people are more happy at work!
One moms laugh and say that - "well at work one gets a lot of adult interaction and recognition for a job well done. And at home, sometimes it can feel like a thankless job"
Another mom adds "Well also at work when a project is over .. its over .. the work of being a mother is never really done .. cleaned houses get dirty, clothes out of the laundry will need to go through the cycle again so really - it never gets done"
One mom - an older mom- is silent.
She finally says after the rest of us are done speculating on the Happiness article and its causes
"I used to think like you ladies when I was younger, but now I wish I had done it different.Now that my kids are grown up - I so wish I had just been more present ... you know .. when they were tugging at my sleeve needing this or that .. I wish I had known what a compliment that was... if I could do it all over.. I would be more present"
She becomes silent as she realizes that she has broken the flow of the conversation.
A lot of conversations - at least most of the enjoyable ones are filled with agreement of points of view.
Many conversations are looking for empathy- a common point of connection
Most of us really are not looking to debate. Plus all conversation around mommyhood and work- and what is the right thing to do or the satisfying thing to do - is a minefield of guilt and we all have learned to tread gently around it.
But we dont want her to feel bad
And so we rush in to reassure her
"I need to do more of that"
"You are so right"
"I dont want to be saying coulda woulda shoulda 10 years from now"
I wonder if the others at the table will remember or not - the next evening that their child is beckoning while the laundry awaits
And then I also wonder if the woman with the grown up children really is right or not
Is the right moral of the story - forget about the day to day living things and play with your child ?
It sounds so good in a Hallmark Television Commercial kind of way
But I am not sure how true it is !
I know she means it but its one of those things that are meaningful in retrospect - when you have a scarcity of child time and surfeit of time to do chores
For I know in our own life which like so many others' is full to bursting - if DH and I dont plan out what we will wear and eat during the week or keep a reasonably clean home - there is chaos.
We really MUST make tradeoffs between life and the things we do for living - as my friend T calls it
But being FULLY present in what ever we are doing .
Not thinking about chores when with child
Not feeling guilty about the child when doing chores
Folding laundry, cooking dinner, doing floortime, providing sensory play , watching movie, flirting with DH, experimenting with make-up, planning with therapists, cleaning house etc with ALL your heart.
Knowing each of these is an essential part of life
Fully present in each moment -
Now that sounds good