Work-Life Balance: Fundamental Disagreements – Part I

I fundamentally disagree with the notion that as parents we should work in jobs that kill our souls, barely pay the bills, and simultaneously require us to bend over backwards to provide educational opportunities for our children beyond what is provided during the school day.

My reasons?

1)      By working ourselves in jobs that do not spiritually or emotionally sustain us and only minimally meet our economic needs we are setting poor examples for our kids. They will do as we do, not as we say.

2)      Losing sleep to “get ahead” and “obtain the American dream” are a foolish concepts:

a. How far do middle class Americans really think we can get ahead? Is it honestly more than 1%? If not, is that meager 1% really worth it? At the end of the sacrifice, we will feel not only cheated but also duped.

I have too much personal experience that shows me that realistically I cannot expect to substantially advance in economic terms without sacrificing quality time spent with my family. My father was never at home because he was climbing the ladder and fulfilling the outdated concept of the male provider. The strain that placed on my mother made her a single mother for all intensive purposes and that ultimately led to their divorce. The strain also wore on us as children who only interacted with my dad when he was exhausted or emotionally unavailable.

That model was therefore unsustainable, and still is today. Perhaps even more so, as more and more women join the workforce and burn the candle at both ends as full-time employees and nurturing homemakers that handle their children’s homework and extracurricular activities so that they will have a chance at a fulfilling life – a fulfilling life that will never materialize as adults because they will invariably be forced into the same catch 22 lifestyle where music and dance are relegated to hobbies (or cease to exist when they have kids of their own), and dreams of building exquisite structures, fighting bad guys, or (blah) are smashed because they have a middle class upbringing that prevents them from networking with the puppet masters that really control and brainwash the menagerie into thinking they have a chance at the American dream!

(Okay – that was a mouthful and most likely grammatically incorrect, but I hope you can forgive me; I’m a geologist and an artist, not an English major.)

b. There is no such thing as a middle class American achieving the “American dream” anymore – white picket fences, single family homes lining quiet streets in suburbia, stay-at-home moms who bake apple pies and wear aprons without complaint, and content fathers who work reasonable hours and come home to dinner waiting on the table where happy, respectful children love and adore them.


Or there’s the version where a person from meager beginnings can rise to the top and make a name for him because he worked his way up the ladder.

Neither version of dream exists except in rare, lucky cases, yet men and women – at least in the Caucasian community – still vie for that ideal! Men work harder thinking that one day all their work will magically transform their careers and their homes into that picture perfect ideal. Women, too, convince themselves that they can have brilliant careers like men and can climb the ladder to higher prosperity, but many eventually realize they also want to be mothers. When that happens they are then torn in half. There are just not enough hours in the days to be effective in both roles to the degree that makes them feel successful. Instead they walk around feeling like chronic failures – unable to get ahead at work because they also want to be available for their children, unable to be there for their children to the extent they are needed because they have to work just to make a modest stab at helping their family achieve the dream.

c. Lack of sleep leads to an increase in mistakes at work, on the roads, and at home. Lack of sleep makes us more susceptible to angry, impatient, emotional outbursts toward our children and our spouses and other loved ones when our reserves are constantly low. Lack of sleep negatively affects our moods, our physical health, our marriages, and our sex drives.

3)      Doing something that does not feed our souls leads to burnout. Sacrificing all our own interests for the sake of our children undermines our wishes for them to lead a soul-fulfilling life as well as undermines our own mission and purpose in this life. Again, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

Yes, we should prepare ourselves for the real world by pursuing higher education and passing required tests to obtain licenses that will benefit our careers. Yes, we should strive to challenge ourselves because challenges are fulfilling and give us a sense of accomplishment. However, I’m suggesting there are limits to what we should envision and that we need to align ourselves with a higher consciousness before blindly proceeding on a path that others insist is the only “right” way to achieve one’s dreams because that is how they did it. We can use their advice as guideposts, but without a connection to God, something I also call Flow, and a sense of spiritual fulfillment, all our efforts are in vain.

On top of that, I don’t know that what our egos want is always what our higher selves want. I struggle with this concept at times because I swear those cute shoes are really going to make me feel better and that single family home is going to solve all my problems. HGTV also makes it look sooooo easy!

At the same time, though, I don’t know that our society is prepared to support God’s way. Our model is capitalist: mo’ money, mo’ money, mo’ money! We envy movie stars and the lives of the rich and famous. We drool over Escalades and $2 billion dollar homes, convinced somehow that there’s an “if only” clause that keeps their riches at bay and if we could just win the lottery or get “discovered” we, too, would live like them. In America, the illusion is that you or I are only one step away from making that fantasy our own.

But, you see, it is an illusion. Fundamentally, we are genetically predisposed to wanting alpha dog status. These days, though, corporations and perhaps the government play on that innate human drive. If they convince us that working harder means living the Life, then they have succeeded by making us their slaves.

Only I’m not buying it.

Leave a Reply

Just another WordPress weblog