The other morning, I was dressing for work, feeding the dog, doing laundry, and making my daughter’s lunch. I leaned down to put on a pair of heels and felt a sharp ache in my back. The advice of my granny, who, while I was growing up, would frequently come up behind me, smack me between the shoulder blades, and issue the stern command “stand up straight!” reverberated loudly in my head.
I straightened up, put my shoulders back, and took a deep breath. I opted that day for a pair of flats. By paying attention to my posture that day, by the next, I was back in the proverbial saddle. As working moms, we carry many loads, both literally and figuratively. We lug around our babies, our toddlers, and sometimes even our school-aged kids. We carry groceries and load after load of laundry; we mop floors and scrub toilets; and cook gourmet meals. We take care of our kids when they are sick or heartsick, bored or delighted. We care for the family pets and often for a spouse or elderly parent. We keep family relations intact with our own siblings and parents, and sometimes our in-laws.
As employees, we carry a different load. We lug our laptops and other work-related items back and forth between meetings. We manage relationships with our bosses, employees, and co-workers. We carry the emotional weight of financially supporting a family. At the end of the day, after helping the kids with homework, dinner, teeth brushing, stories, kisses, excuses, and, finally, sleep, we log in again, to check e-mail and catch up on work.
As working moms, we take on multiple programs and problems, from volunteering at school and driving on field trips to running meetings and managing multi-million dollar projects. If we are lucky, we have a few hours a week to exercise, read a good book, or visit with beloved girlfriends. There is usually a sacrifice at work or at home that must be made to eke out those hours from our schedule.
If we are not careful, the physical and mental burdens that we carry every day, even though they bring us joy and satisfaction, pile up, and we find ourselves shrinking, slouching, hurting, ducking our heads, and not making eye contact with other humans.
Working moms, I am virtually smacking you between the shoulder blades! Stand Up Straight! Good posture is an important step in balancing the burdens of life!
Good posture makes us look and feel healthy, empowered, and in control. Standing tall makes us feel tall, and if we feel tall, we are tall! Straightening up and throwing back our shoulders brings about an almost instantaneous attitude adjustment and makes others perceive us as larger than life.
Good posture reduces strain on our muscles and spine, helps maximize energy and vitality, and helps prevent health issues as we age. And last, but certainly not least, another true benefit to good posture is that it makes our clothes look better and makes it more comfortable to wear killer shoes!
I find that if I take a moment, straighten up, throw my shoulders back, and take a deep breath, the burdens feel lighter, my body feels and looks better, and my attitude is transformed. Thanks, Granny.
(c) 2012. Regan MacPherson
Regan MacPherson is a single mom of a wonderful daughter, a pug and a cat, and is a full-time corporate attorney for a storage technology company in Silicon Valley.