Embracing the Reality of ‘Happily Ever After’

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Most of us can recall planning our wedding day. Spending hours searching for the perfect dress, the biggest reception hall and the best caterer seemed like the only things that mattered. Marrying the prince, however, didn’t instantly guarantee years of fairy-tale romance. Reality is filled with everyday stressors like work and taking care of the kids — all while trying to keep the romance alive with the spouse.


Kelly Swanson implores women to hang on to humor when life doesn’t go as planned. Swanson is author of “Who Hijacked My Fairy Tale,” and the 2010 Moms@Work keynote speaker. She also is an award-winning storyteller, motivational speaker and corporate comedian. Her remedy for the days when you just can’t seem to get out of the house in time and get that presentation planned before you have to pick up Johnny from soccer practice? Laugh.


Swanson, a High Point resident, will discuss the challenges of balancing work and motherhood at this year’s Moms@Work event. Following are some more thoughts from Swanson on juggling the roles of parent and employee.


Q. How do you recommend women achieve balance when they’re faced with so many more challenges in today’s society, from working to making sure their children stay healthy and well-rounded?


Laugh at yourself. Laughter is so important because stress is at an all-time high. Stop trying to compete with other moms. Realize that you aren’t perfect. You weren’t designed to be. We’re not perfect so our kids aren’t going to be either. We cannot be afraid to ask for help. We don’t have to get lost in all of this. Also, moms who work outside the home have to prioritize. I try to look ahead a year or two and try to figure out what’s really going to matter by then.


Q. What is your advice for moms in a world where traditional gender roles don’t exist anymore?


Women make a difference even when they can’t see it. But it’s hard to figure out how to be when all the rules have changed. The family unit has changed with so many more people working from home. Many families have at least one parent who has been laid off from a job. For the women who work outside of the home, we have to know that it’s ok that our husbands do things for our child.


Q. How would you define success?


Success is not about looking like everyone else. I believe that you have to stand up and stick out. In the business world, no one will notice you if you don’t stick out. The dream does not have to look like the world says it has to look. I spent my whole life trying to blend in, and then for years I kept trying to be the speaker everyone wanted me to be. I finally realized my true mission in life was to lift people up with humor. I get all my material from real life.


For this year’s Moms@Work luncheon on Oct. 6, Swanson has specifically prepared “Don’t Make Me Pull This Car Over,” which she describes as a hilarious and motivating journey through motherhood. You won’t want to miss it.


Renee Roberson is a freelance writer based in Huntersville.