Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Working Mom: Keshet (on Community Involvement)

I am a working mom (and I love it); but, if I'm being honest, I feel like most days I'm more "surviving" and less "making it work."  So... I enlisted the help of some dear blog friends to share their experiences, advice, lessons, and encouragement on all kinds of topics related to life balancing a job outside the home and a family. I think this goes without saying, but please know that this series is - in no way - meant to belittle or undermine the work of stay-at-home moms - you are doing an incredibly important JOB, and I have so much respect for you!  That said, I do feel like working moms are sometimes under-represented in the internet world... So, my hope is that this will be a place for working moms of the blogosphere to unite and feel understood, connected, strengthened, and supported (plus, maybe pick up a tip or two)!   Overall, I hope this will be a reminder that (regardless of your situation), you are NOT alone, and you are doing a darn good job! Please introduce yourself and  "join the conversation" in the comments.  

(More from me on being a working mom here.)
Today, I'm honored to introduce you to New Jersey mama/lawyer and blogger, Keshet as she shares some of the things she's learned about balancing her life as a professional and a mother with everything else:

When I was younger, I did not want to be a working mom.  To me, working motherhood seemed like stepping on a nonstop carousel, with no time to breathe, read a book, or even do something really self-indulgent, like baking chocolate chip cookies from scratch. No, thank you.


Years passed, and when I welcomed my first baby after a few years of infertility I found that (a) I really liked my job, and was loathe to leave it, and (b) I needed social time to be happy. Oh, and the salary was somewhat necessary too!  So I found myself becoming exactly what I had wanted to avoid--a working mom.

Since becoming a working mom, I've learned a few things. First, every mom feels like they're on a carousel that never stops spinning, at least some of the time. But more importantly, instead of trying to find a balance between work and family, I find myself struggling to find a balance between work, family, and all that other stuff that makes up our lives, especially community.


In my Orthodox Jewish community in New Jersey, we invite guests for the Sabbath (aka "Shabbos") a lot, sometimes nearly every week. If you've never been to a Shabbos meal, it's basically the equivalent of making a Thanksgiving meal every single week.  In addition to that, when someone in the neighborhood has a baby (which seems to happen a lot!), a sign-up sheet goes around to prepare meals for them.  There are community events, last-minute prayer meetings, and the everyday things I want to do for my friend who just broke her leg and is bedridden, or the one who has been having a hard few months.


But the question is, how? How do I do all of these things without sacrificing sleep, mental health, or biting my husband's head off? When do I push myself to give to my community, and when do I accept that there is a season for everything, and this may not be the season for X, Y, or Z?

I wish I had an easy answer to this question (maybe someone else can write this part of the post?) but I don't. I've been trying and honing and debating for twenty months since I became a mother, and the little baby I'm expecting in December will only shake things up, I'm sure. But although I have no golden wand to share with you, here are a few of the tips I've found that have helped me strike this balance:

  • Just because you need to do something LESS doesn't mean you can't do it at all. I may not host Shabbos guests every week anymore, but I still host every 2 to 3 weeks, which adds up to a lot of guests over the years. 
  • Do things your way. If a Shabbos guest offers to bring a dish, I always say yes--less work for me!  I serve a good amount of food, but I don't knock myself into the ground making two kinds of meat and fourteen side dishes.  (In keeping with this theme, if you have a baby and I bring you a meal, it will probably be pasta-oriented. Maybe with meatballs. But no appetizer--salad--main--side--dessert business.)
  • It isn't all or nothing. The other week, I really wanted to attend a prayer meeting for a young girl that was sick, but just did not have it in me to get dressed and go out at 9:00. So instead I texted a friend who was going, and she told me which Psalms they were dividing up, and I was able to participate from home. 
  • It's okay to say no. My husband came up with the "resentment test," where before I agree to something I try to figure out if I will feel resentful of the commitment when it comes times to follow through. In the past, If I did feel resentful, I assumed that was a flaw in my character. Now, I'm trying to think that maybe it's just a sign that this commitment doesn't fit in with the obligations I have on my plate at the moment. And that's okay.    
Community is such a huge part of life. For me, my faith, my closest friendships, and my core identity are all tied into it. I wouldn't be a complete person if I didn't spend time on those things.  But at the same time, there are only so many hours in the day.  So I try to balance, and sometimes I do a great job, and sometimes I fail.

But the nice thing about community is that it's always waiting for you the next day, when you're ready to try again.  And so is parenting!


Keshet Starr is a 28 year old mom of Ellie (20 months) and a sweet little baby on the way! In addition to running after her toddler, she works as an attorney in a nonprofit setting. In her free time (whenever that happens), she enjoys scrap booking, reading, baking—and eating baked goods, and blogging at Over the RainbowKeshet lives in beautiful New Jersey with her family and has a love/hate relationship with the process of fixing up her 1950s era house!


THANKS KESHET!

How do you balance community obligations? What tips have helped you strike a balance in work-home-life?!?


2 comments:

  1. Great post! Over the years, I've learned that I don't have to be everything to everyone and that it's perfectly acceptable for me to prioritize who gets what of my time. Every Sunday, I sit down and look at my schedule and decide what I'm able to do for the week with regard to community or volunteer work. Some weeks I'm able to do more and some weeks are less but I think at the end of the day, what really matters is that we are trying.

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  2. I really enjoyed this post because I think community can definitely be something that gets squeezed to the back burner when life is busy. I have seen that in my own life even though we don't have kids yet. I tend to take on way too much so I have slowly been learning what my limits are so I don't get stretched too thin.

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