How do you strike a balance between what everyone wants and dreams of in your family? Do your dreams and hopes conflict with or complement each other? Are compromises made out of love, duty or pressure? Is there are formula for family balance?
On the face of it, our family is very balanced. In yin yang terms, two of us are female, two male. Two adults, two kids. Brady bunch, minus four.
In the traditional Zodiac, the kids are both masculine star signs, hubby and I both feminine signs.
Miss Yin and I were both born in July, Little Yang and Mr Yang were both born in February. Miss Yin and Mr Yang have birthdates on the 24th of the month, while Little Yang’s birthdate was given as the 10th and mine is the 11th (due to circumstances we can’t be sure, and I just have this feeling he was born on the 11th).
My sign, Cancer, is a cardinal sign (dynamically changing), while the kids are both fixed signs (stable and grounded) and Mr Yang is mutable (adaptable). Which probably works out to overall balance.
Mr Yang and I are both water signs, the kids are air (Little Yang) and fire (Miss Yin) – oxygen fans the fire, and a double dose of water is need to put it out!
In Chinese astrology we are a Rat (Mr Yang), Monkey (me), Goat (Miss Yin) and Ox (LittleYang). I can vouch that Little Yang is most definitely an Ox!
And Mr Yang is supposed to be Yang Water while Little Yang is Yin Water. I’m supposed to be Yang Metal, while Miss Yin is Yin Fire. I really don’t know what this all means.
I don’t know how much sway I hold in astrology, whether traditional western or Chinese.
I do know that striking some kind of balance between what everyone wants can be hard.
Last weekend Mr Yang worked both days, which meant I had the kids on my own during the day. Miss Yin nagged me into letting her have a friend play and then sleep-over on the Saturday night (when she should really have had a quiet night), while Sunday was dominated by Miss Yin’s dance rehearsals, going back and forth between the studio from 8.30am – 2.30pm, dragging Little Yang in tow. Miss Yin’s needs were to the fore, everyone else taking a backseat.
As a fire fighter for the last 13 years, Mr Yang has had a great roster that gives him plenty of time off, and he devotes most of this time to the kids and family life. I’ve alternated along the way between one-two days a week of part-time consultancy work as the primary caregiver to full-time work and the crazy juggle. Fire fighters have great conditions, but not such great pay. I’ve always wanted to do some work, but I’ve always had to work. There are choices and compromises, solutions and sacrifices – such is life.
When we see elite athletes up on a podium or top performers up on stage, I often think of the parents who helped them get there and the sacrifices they (usually the Mums mostly) made over many years. The media will sometimes focus on these ‘unsung’ heroes who put their own needs behind those of their children or partner. I think it is just as important to celebrate the love and dedication of those who help make others’ achievements possible, as it is to celebrate those who achieve.
But while self-sacrifice and vicarious achievement are admirable, for most families it comes back to striking some kind of balance so everyone can feel a sense of purpose, follow passions and have some measure of freedom to achieve what they dream of, in between looking after each other.
This is much more than balancing hours between work and family life, more than trying to share parenting and household responsibilities, although dividing duties somewhat equitably is usually going to help.
I think it is about taking a long view – there will be times when one or more family member’s needs take precedence and it’s in the very nature of parenting to prioritise your children’s needs over your own.
But if things remain very unbalanced over long periods of time, if one person’s needs are always being sacrificed for the greater good, then ultimately the family itself will become imbalanced and dysfunctional.
A family whole will only ever be as strong as the sum of its parts and if one family member is weakened by consistently not having their needs met, then that strength is compromised.
Love to know how you keep balance in your family?
Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT.