The following is a contribution from one of my local mommy friends ….. 

Busy Mom

Recently, I was sitting in a local Starbucks. A young college student came in and my heart went out to her.  As I sat with my latte and computer,  I heard her begin to describe her stress to the clerk specifically the huge academic load that she carries.   Her backpack is filled to the brim, weighing her down – leaving her physically and seemingly emotionally drained.  As she leaves with her drink to bring a sense of comfort (and/or a jolt of caffeine for studying) , it begs the question of 21st Century motherhood.   Should this young girl decide to have a family one day,  I wonder what the path will look like for her .  Will the stress from deadlines, expectations, and social demands simply transition from one stage of life to another?   The endless demand for perfection and performance complete with comparison and criticism don’t evaporate after college or one’s first job.   While relationships, marriage, and children don’t come with required readings, term papers,  or official grades, we definitely want to succeed in our family life as much or more as we did in our studies and at our jobs.  Yet, with commitment to “doing your best”, it’s often difficult to know when to try harder and when you’re already doing a darn good job.   Perfectionism can be paralyzing-especially at home.  What works in school and at work often backfires in our very homes.  Being really uptight about deadlines and grades works great in college-being uptight because your spouse forgot something or your child made a B in science may not go over as well and may well harm the relationships in the process.  Where does it end?
Perhaps the endless cycle ends now. Perhaps the time is now to put an end to the unrealistic demands we have of ourselves, our children, and others.  I know sometimes I ignore the 20 things I DID accomplish on my list and focus only on the thing I forgot to do.  ”How could I have forgotten that-argh!”  is something I have said to myself more times than I care to admit – yet I tell my daughter that no one is perfect.  Moms aren’t perfect and we put SO much pressure on ourselves to “get it right” whether it be remembering to sign up for a child’s sport on time or volunteering at school or trying to look happy and relaxed after a long day at work while helping your child with homework (and likely doing laundry or dinner simultaneously).   Don’t even get me started on Mommy Guilt.

Perhaps now is the time to finally embrace the fact that while we can do many things, we can’t do everything-at least not at the same time.  Perhaps now is a good time to encourage one another to utilize the gifts we have rather than criticize another’s faults. Perhaps now is the time to revel in the moment of doing good work in whatever situation we find ourselves.  Let’s put the Comparison Game on the playroom shelf for good. Perhaps now is the moment to breath a little easier because of the acceptance we find in ourselves.  It makes it much easier to then apply that same acceptance to others.  Yes, indeed.  There is no time like the present.

My favorite author, Brene Brown, PhD.,  has some wonderful advice on this topic.  Check out  The Gifts of Imperfection as well as The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting.

Have a perfectly imperfect day moms!

Have a great year moms!

Have a great year moms!




















tangled yarn....many lessons

tangled yarn….many lessons

I’ve spent more than a few days unraveling a tangled ball of yarn. My kids said the yarn looked like a bowl of spaghetti or worms. Yum, you can decide the choice of image.

In all seriousness, close friends and family would say that this would be a challenging task for me. I fully admit one of my failings is impatience. It’s not for nothing my husband teases me about wanting things now, along with a foot stomp for good measure.

Faced with a tangled mess, my chattering mind cussed loudly. Of course I didn’t have the time to unravel knots, so, for the first hour there wasn’t any room in my thoughts to get down to the task. It seemed not only messy and unsightly but insurmountable to the point I’d almost lobbed the whole thing into the trash can. But then I got to thinking, this problem was exactly the sort of thing that had important life lessons and a pertinent exercise in patience for me.

The first lesson was not giving up immediately when confronted with the surface problem. Acknowledging the truth of the problem (my impatience) was my first realization. When dealing with difficult tasks, I’ve always encouraged my kids to try their best and, to this end, we’ve created a family motto: Cheungs never give up! How could I then in all conscience give up at the first hurdle? I didn’t give up and the task proved a gift at the moment when I needed to hear the messages.

I had to dive in and break the task up into small steps, some so minute they seemed insignificant, but each inch of detangled yarn meant I gained a foothold on the problem. I had an expectation the task would take a short time; this was my impatience talking and wasn’t quite the reality. Oftentimes, when we’ve been plugging away without success, we may reach a juncture where we want to give up. On several occasions, I wanted to hurl the blasted thing at the wall in disgust (and, yes, there was much cussing under my breath!)

I became obsessed with the tangles and my singular focus gave way to negativity. I had to walk away, acknowledged I’d done my best for the day and picked it up on another day with a fresh perspective. Over the many days, I lessened my impatience and expectations, and, somehow, the untangling of the yarn reached a critical point where it literally started to unravel and fall into place.

The perfectionist in me was terribly upset when I got towards the end and the yarn was so twisted I had to cut it. Indeed, I had to cut it several times.  This yarn was like my life–though I wanted smooth and straight, I got imperfect and knotted. As most of us would do, I joined the ends together to continue and to make it work. And what if the yarn had been beyond repair? I would have had to buy another ball of yarn, despite the expense and inconvenience, in order to finish my project, and put it down to experience.

I’m glad I had some light bulb moments with the yarn because my family is dealing with the aftermath of terminal illness and death of a loved one. I apply the lessons of the yarn to the grieving process, especially for my kids, who are confronted by death for the first time. It’s messy and has many layers, and we have to deal with it bit by bit.

Next time your problem looks like a bowl of tangled spaghetti, worms or a ball of yarn know you have choices; you can unravel it, throw it away or cut it and use whatever you can. There isn’t a right or wrong choice, only yours.

Susan Shifay CheungSusan Shifay Cheung has turned her hand to many forms of writing in her various roles, over the years, as corporate trainer, management consultant, journalist and writer. You can contact her at

ShifaybdayRecently, I saw a funny cartoon entitled “The Seven Dwarves of Menopause” and they were duly named: Itchy, Bitchy, Sweaty, Sleepy, Bloated, Forgetful and Psycho!

Having experienced all these states, I’m either approaching early menopause, or it’s some deep seated anxiety about my birthday! This birthday I can’t say I’m in my early anything anymore. I think the old-fashioned, polite phrase would be to describe me as a woman of indeterminate age.

Okay, you can call me vain, but when the young man in the grocery store called me “Miss” instead of the usual “Ma’am,” I beamed at him. I think I really scared him! My children have learned that the revelation of age is Mommy’s prerogative. That Mommy being born in the 20th Century is not the same as when dinosaurs walked the earth!

Here’s my two seconds of moan time. Please indulge me because it is my birthday. My body is grappling with gravity and I wish I could plug myself into a power source to have one-tenth of my children’s energy. Be gone fatigue. Oh, dearest body, remember when you were a bendy pretzel, instead of peanut brittle? Okay, you can stop the moan clock now. No more moaning. Bendy pretzel is my ohm in yoga and my fabulous, older yoga teacher is my role model, along with the two 79 year olds in my yoga class, who could kick my butt in the bendy pretzel department. Ladies, you are truly my inspiration.

It’s truth time. I set out to teach my kids that life is the glass half-full variety, which means to embrace life and enjoy the present. I can’t in all conscience then be half-empty in my own approach.

My birthday wow is to welcome today and every day. And, instead of fear, I embrace and enjoy the wonders of my age and all the wisdom and experience it brings. As my children look forward to getting older, I need to remember that feeling of joy, too. Fully embracing the moment means I’m alive and living; each birthday is a celebration of my print on this earth.

So, if I don’t want to drink sour lemonade on my birthday, I need to embrace my lemon cheesecake moment instead. I chose lemon cheesecake!

Susan Shifay CheungSusan Shifay Cheung has turned her hand to many forms of writing in her various roles, over the years, as corporate trainer, management consultant, journalist and writer. You can contact her at

backpacks The kids are back in school, although I still can’t get my head around the fact that school starts in August here.

I behaved just like that daddy clown fish in the “First Day of School” scene from Disney-Pixar’s “Finding Nemo.” I think I was more excited and even more nervous than my two children. While I was flitting around trying to remember stuff, they took the first morning in their stride, getting up without my dragging them out of bed, donning their new clothes and backpacks, and even enduring, with much patience, my quest to take the “perfect” first day photograph.

As I was getting ready to walk my kids to their bus stop, it struck me how the first day of school is rather like a family reunion. I would hazard a guess that most people have gone to a family reunion of sorts at some point in their lives, so you know that a reunion is very much a ritual with history and group culture that people look forward to (and, maybe, dread, too!)

The first day of school is a ritual from the laying out of clothes the night before to entering your new classroom where you see the kids you know and look forward to seeing (like a favorite cousin), those you tolerate (like an eccentric uncle) and the unknown or new kids (like a new fiancé, who’s meeting your extended family for the first time).

Gauging what your family reunion will be like can be seen in the context of the new school year. Before you anticipate the class photo (family photo) next spring, be prepared for a whole lot of fun, plus a whole lot of learning; a whole lot of eating and a few outings; growth as a person and as a group, and, no doubt, some arguments, butting of heads and miscommunication in between.

Have a great year everyone!

Susan Shifay CheungSusan Shifay Cheung has turned her hand to many forms of writing in her various roles, over the years, as corporate trainer, management consultant, journalist and writer. You can contact her at