Saying that being a working mother is tough is an understatement. It’s a 24-hour negotiation, guilt-fest, prioritizing, self-sacrificing effort to do the best thing for our children and partners without losing our sense of self and our sanity. At times, it’s a piece of cake and at others, it’s a test of patience and emotional fortitude to just get through dinner, baths, and bedtime.
Fortunately for myself I had and have help. I can afford (albeit at great expense) help to raise my daughter and to give her the structure and socialization that she needs so that I can focus on my work and on myself. Not a lot of you other mothers out there have that luxury or made the same choice. To be honest, I couldn’t be a full-time stay at home mom. I’m just not that self-sacrificing and I admit it. Going through a tough period of postpartum depression made me realize even more than ever that I just can’t do everything myself – and that includes raising children. And to those full time SAHMs, God bless you.
At the end of the day, with or without help, there is no escaping motherhood. As a business woman, I think of how I’m going to schedule my consultation hours around the days I have my daughter full time. I have to ensure my schedule aligns with hers so I can pick her up from school and focus only on her rather than the ten other things I should be doing. Along with my client and business strategy, I think of how I’m going to potty train her and get her to eat more vegetables. I have to figure out what is more important, giving her the fun and structure that school affords her or my advertising budget. I can’t turn it off and I don’t think the compulsion ever will.
When I get caught up in the mire of thinking how I’ll ever balance being a working mother to a toddler with another one on the way and growing my business and staying true to myself, the stillness of the moment reminds me that I’m not alone, not the first, and certainly not the last of my kind. All I have to do is look around me to see the women who manage their homes, their children’s upbringing, and their own work.
I can look to all of my best friend’s moms who are all single mothers who before and after divorce refused to give up and lie down, but get up each day and face the challenges of making it all work and are now facing retirement.
Or, I can think of one of my former bosses, who with three children and her own real estate firm said to me, “None of us (mothers) really know what we’re doing,” with the type of sincerity and honesty that you can’t find in a motivational or parenting book.
There’s my former step-mother who, following her divorce with my father, with three kids in tow changed her career and went to nursing school and still managed to raise three amazing, personable, and intelligent young adults.
I also have my expat friend living in France, working as an executive in Switzerland, balancing the act of going through an unexpected divorce, splitting custody of her three boys, and traveling around the world for her job every other week somehow manages the strength to keep going with all of the positivity she can muster.
My best friend, Rachael, worked her way through college, delivered twins in medical school, and with some miraculous time management and support from her physician husband is now a doctor herself.
There are also the women I just met, too, who inspire me. A lovely beauty products saleswoman who wanted to meet people and have time for her daughters is the VP of her region. My nail technician opened a new nail salon in town after having three in Arizona and insists that continuing education, passion, and dedication to one’s craft is what motivates her business attitude, despite her complaint that she works seven days a week and doesn’t see her husband and son enough.
Some of these women have strong, understanding, and open-minded men or partners standing next to them as they journey through life as mothers and working women. Some have to deal with everything on top of handling an abuser or absentee partner. Some can afford the help and others rely on public schools or the kindness of friends and family. How these inspiring women make it work doesn’t really matter at the end of the day – it’s that they do.
These women have taught me what it really means to self-sacrifice, but to know when to step back and take a moment and make a choice for our own interests, not just for our husbands’ and our children’s. They taught me that if there is something that you want, you have to work for it and make it work however one can. They taught me that despite our frustrations, angers, uncertainty, and fear that we face each day, we do it all with seemingly endless amounts of love and hope. Love for ourselves and those around us and hope for good things and for the future.
It’s all of these women – and the many others that I don’t have the time to mention today – that inspire me. You inspire me to get out of bed, to get cleaned up, to put my makeup on, and get on with it each day. For the love of my husband and my children and for my own spiritual evolution, I repeat the cycle with each new sunrise. For that, I say thank you – your choices and actions have not gone unnoticed. Not by me and certainly not by the people in your life that matter.