Thank you for your column. Since parnassa pressure is something we all face, I hope you will print my question. I am the mother of a growing family, BH, and like most women today, my income is essential. Perhaps my husband is learning and I am the primary breadwinner. Or perhaps my husband is working, but his income covers basics while mine pays the tuition.
Either way, the pressure that I am feeling to increase my income as more of my children enter school is crushing. The truth is that I am not cut out to be a working mother. Far from meeting my needs for outside stimulation, my job drains the life out of me, physically and emotionally. When I come home, I have no strength left for my family, and wish everyone would just go away so I could rest or have some time to myself. After my kids are in bed, I have paperwork to complete or students to tutor at home. At that point, I have no strength left for any household tasks or phone calls, because I need time alone to unwind. (I know this is not depression, because Yom Tov, maternity leave, and even sick days are a different world. That is when I finally feel alive.)
I would appreciate your REALISTIC advice! My family needs their wife and mother back!
Move to backwoods Mississippi! Seriously though, I have spoken with many people who are dealing with this issue. We live in a society in which a family needs to earn what is considered an upper middle class income just to pay the bills. A very large portion of the frum community seems to be feeling the pressure to work inordinately hard in order to keep from drowning in debt.
I have heard from many a parent that they feel like they are being sucked dry by the stresses of life, and that they have no energy for their families. To some extent, it comes down to priorities. Should we work that much harder to afford that new watch or vacation, or should we take time off to be with the kids? Unfortunately, however, many people find themselves in the position where they need to work extraordinarily hard simply to afford the necessities.
I don’t have a suggestion that will completely change your life and allow you to feel energized after a difficult day at work. That being said, there are some things that you can try that might help you to relax both generally and after a long day. It can help to schedule tasks for specific times. For instance, instead of doing paperwork whenever you have time, try scheduling it for a specific time and for a specific amount of time (i.e., from 8:00pm to 8:30pm). This can help you to avoid the sense that you are always working. It can also help you to begin scheduling time for relaxation. If you know that your obligations are time-limited, and you can look forward to relaxation time, this can make you generally feel more calm and in control.
It can also be helpful for you to schedule time away from your house. Try to find some time to spend with your husband or with a friend or friends. Always being in the same places (home and work) can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed and the sense that you are always “on duty.” Getting away, even for just a couple of hours a week can help to reduce that sense.
-Yehuda Lieberman, LCSW
psychotherapist in private practice
author of Self-Esteem: A Primer
www.ylcsw.com / 718-258-5317
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