It’s OK If Your Life Feels Like a Circus
Image credit: Madgalena Oppenheimer
Solo Moms pass on some very worthwhile skills to their kids
Using the circus metaphor may help you explain to your kids the challenges you face on a daily basis, and hopefully your offspring will inherit some of the commendable skills you’ve gained along your Solo Mom journey. Your kids have likely spent their most formative years admiring your exhilarating feats of balance and juggling, watching you lead the show as ringmaster, and acting as the clown.
The balancing act is a (sometimes overused) term to describe the daunting duties that challenge a mom’s ability to strike a healthy balance between work and family. With Solo Moms, it’s that and more. There is more financial pressure to excel at work as a solo parent and more of a pull from the home front because there’s nobody else to form a tag team. Moms also need to maintain a healthy social life amid the chaos. At times, we may feel like the tightrope walker—taking care with every step, with strong focus and attention to detail. One slip, and it’s over. Taking the first step of a new challenge can be terrifying, but getting to the end goal is the highest feeling of accomplishment. As you master these skills, use each opportunity to teach your kids how you have done it and continue to do it well—or which mistakes you’ve learned from. And, if things didn’t go well, demonstrate to them how you fixed it. You are passing along invaluable life skills, such as resilience, tenacity, focus, negotiating, and conquering fear.
The juggler thrills us with knives and flaming torches. Whether we are juggling kitchen knives or carpools, each feat is tremendous. Running out of work meetings to get to a dance recital, sacrificing a soccer game for a job interview, pushing back the time with a hot date because somebody is not feeling well, and putting in your volunteer hours at school while you pay your bills. You are teaching your kids compromise and sacrifice.
As ringmaster, you help direct your kids’ attention to what is going on in one ring and then in another ring. You encourage them to take part in an exciting event while you’re overseeing three rings at a time with ease and proficiency. Wouldn’t it be great if you could take a break from the extravaganza? Wouldn’t it be nice to be seated in the grandstand while someone else directs the audience or to have a gorgeous assistant cook dinner and do somersaults while you view the presentation? And wouldn’t it be great to have just one day to sleep in with the menagerie? But you can’t. Put on your top hat and tails, Mom, because you’re running the show. Display how you do it with ease—like the woman on the flying trapeze. These are learned leadership skills, and when your kids inherit them, they will be able to navigate tricky twists and turns in their own lives.
You may be able to relate to the expression, “tears of a clown.” How many times have you maintained a smile while crying inside? Have you had to put on a clown act for relatives, friends, your coworkers? You’re certainly not alone. The circumstances that led you to become a Solo Mom may or may not have been adverse, but you certainly have faced challenges along the way. You were the one there for hunger cries in the night, monsters, middle-school trauma, and teenage rebellion. Likely, another adult is not always there to take up some slack or to simply ask, “Am I doing this right?” The burden and responsibilities can seem overwhelming at times, and you have managed a smile when you may not have been feeling joyful. Express to your kids how they can laugh in times of sorrow, that laughter is medicine. Teach them by example that it’s easier when they can let go of what’s troubling them rather than carry it around as a burden. Teach them to love, forgive and forget, and recognize what really matters. Then, take them to the circus, enjoy some cotton candy, or see who can make the funniest clown face.
Debi Conocenti has been keeping people fit and healthy for more than 20 years. A developer of corporate health, fitness, and wellness programs, she stays active with her two sons and English sheepdogs.
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