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Today's Ultimate Status Symbol
Mom with a View

Today's Ultimate Status Symbol

Keeping busy to fill the void.


According to Psychology Today, it's having too much to do. "American moms feel that having too much to do is bragworthy" says Alice Doman, Ph.D., director of the Mind/Body Center for Women's Health at Boston IVF, in the magazine's August issue.

Even though the price is a very high level of stress, even though we complain non-stop, many women are addicted to their (very) busy lives. "I get a rush from accomplishing all the stuff I do; it makes me feel good about myself," says Rebecca Ryan who is a mother of two, private bank, volunteer, chauffeur… you name it.

Why are so many of us choosing lives of such intense stress?

Why are so many of us choosing lives of such intense stress? Why has it become a proud sign of achievement to say "I didn't even have time to eat today!" (which, by the way, I've never understood; I always find time to eat!) And does this overscheduled lifestyle lead to greater contentment?

Or do we then engage in other destructive behaviors to relax from our over-stressed days? Perhaps those who "didn't have time to eat" more than make up for it in the evening (wait a minute -- I do that also!). Perhaps some women engage in what is euphemistically called "retail therapy," a therapy with a potentially disastrous impact on the family finances. Others don't have time or patience for their husband and children, the most negative fallout of all.

Why all the rushing about? Why have our easier, more comfortable lives upped the level of our intensity instead of the opposite?

I think Ms. Ryan spoke to the key underlying issue when she said, "It makes me feel good about myself." Many of us have holes inside that need filling -- either as a result of poor parenting, confusing societal messages… you name your disorder of choice. So we rush around hoping something will fill the hole: marriage, children, the right job, the right cause. Ultimately nothing does; we keep busy to keep from confronting that void.

We may accomplish many important things, but is it worth the cost? Are we ultimately losing or gaining from these frantic lifestyles? How about our families?

At the risk of sounding preachy (but what's a rebbetzin to do?!), the only way to feel good about ourselves is to recognize our connection to the Divine. We are good because we are creations of the Almighty, with a pure soul that He instilled within us. Our lives are worthwhile because we can connect to the Ultimate Source of good and bring that goodness down to earth. When we feel discouraged, it is the relationship with God and the meaning that brings to our lives that buoys us up. He supports us, He sees our potential and His love is unconditional. We are never alone.

And of course, there's always Haagen-Dazs…

August 16, 2005

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Visitor Comments: 2

(2) Esther Rochel, September 12, 2005 12:00 AM

I really enjoy your articles and always feel inspired. Thankyou

(1) Denise, August 24, 2005 12:00 AM

I agree that a spiritual void can never be filled by external objects. Pursuing those objects can distract us from looking at those holes, but for how long? I have seen examples of this in people close to me- shopping too much, redecorating too often, exercising excessivley, etc. Yes, people also can busy themselves to the point of constant motion.
However, there should be a distinction made between women who are genuinly busy because of their CHOICE to lead their own lives- ie. no housekeeper, no nanny. I am constantly at work mentally at being the best mom, wife , friend and employee I can be (or at least learning from my mistakes!)
I am raising my children, work full time, volunteer (as much as I can) for the school and community. I schlep the kids around to their activities. Of course, there's food shopping, homework, dinner and cleanup.

My days are completely full and busy, but I really don't feel that I have a spiritual void.
More likely I have a physical activity void, or coming up with more creative meals void! These are the things that I have given up- not G-D! I daven Shemoni Esei once a day, read as much as I can ( at 7:30AM), and attend classes as special lectures a few times a month. I know that I am G-D's favorite child (as is everyone else!). That too is an incentive to do my best. He believes in me!
I am doing the best I can to live my own life and make some contribution to the world on a daily basis (nothing monumental- a kind word to someone who needs it is something I consider a contribution), I am busy. But I am certainly not empty.

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