PEOPLE AT WORK COLUMN: Closer To Home

A MOM’S  life is a work in progress. We are forever fixing things, our houses, our children’s problems, our relationships. Sometimes, we feel that we can never create the home and the life we have always dreamed of. Then, when the first streaks of gray hair appear, we wonder where time has flown and if we have made the best use of our lives on earth.

This nagging thought, this unsettling feeling,  can be mistaken for guilt. But actually, it is the intense passion of the human spirit to achieve perfection, to come closer to “home,” to that supreme spiritual being many call God from whom we seek comfort, solace and fulfillment. This passion fuels a certain discontent with our work and our life that pushes us to always “fix things” and try to make everything right in our world.

Yes, we working moms have got to live with this discontent because it is good for us. But we have also got to learn to manage it so that the desire for perfection does not turn into an obsession.

But how can we manage discontent? Here are some guidelines:

Channel discontent, do not suppress it. Suppressing discontent would just make it worse. Like water seeping through the tiniest of cracks, hidden discontent would make itself felt in your life by your restlessness, irritability and unhappiness. Channel your discontent towards the “rocks” in your life. And like flowing water carving a path amidst the hard rocks, discontent will carve a path of solutions through your obstacles.

A fairly successful executive felt something missing in her years of high-paying, prestigious corporate work. She gave it all up for an office over her garage. Today, she heads one of the largest consulting businesses in the country that allows her to serve corporations and small businesses as well.

Learn to live with an ache in your heart. Remember that while the human spirit was made to always strive for perfection, perfection is not achievable in our material world. Thus, we will always have that ache in our heart and guilt in our gut that some things seem to be left undone. We have got to learn to live with the ache, with the guilt, because it is a sign that we are fully aware of our humanity—and our spirituality.

Some people mistakenly try to take the ache away by dwelling on worldly pleasures, which only serve to distract us from achieving our true goals in life. A wealthy lady who lost a loved one spends much of her time in social events, thinking perhaps that since life is so short, she must use all her time for pleasures. At the end of the day, she finds that the ache and the guilt are still there, stronger than before.

Use your discontent for continuous improvement. A working mom’s task is never done but this does not mean we won’t do it. Discontent can be a driving force, like running water that creates energy. Use discontent to energize yourself to do one more chore that must be done, take one more trip to pick up the kids, give one more smile to keep your husband and children happy. Use discontent to spin the wheels of your life.  

A well-respected training manager resigned to build a family and a new life abroad. In a few months time, she will be starting all over again but she doesn’t mind the challenge and uncertainty. She knows that taking that flight away from home is a step that will bring her to a better home.

Like water without which we cannot survive, discontent is needed to keep our spirits alive. Once mastered, it will take us closer to home here on earth and beyond.

Author: Regina Galang Reyes. Published in Metro Working Mom September 2004.

Photo credit: Regina Galang Reyes

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