Working Moms CAN Have It All!
Women can do it all… but should we?
Building a career is challenging, and so is effectively raising children who aren’t total nightmares. These two pursuits often collide to give the overlap of having a family and career achievement.
Many women take off “the first few years” to stay home with their children with the full intention of going back to work. That’s because neuroscience findings that show a child’s early years form a life-long base that determines their foundation of security, self-esteem, and overall mental health. Relationships with parents and caregivers are foundational.
Women have always worked outside the home. The difference nowadays and in the past is that now we’re the power players instead of just filling the post of secretary for a power player. (Not that there’s anything wrong with being a secretary – but for me, the C-suite track was more enticing.)
Building that power-player career is front-loaded: we climb the ladder early to make partner, gain tenure, earn key roles, or become division heads. Then, we want the family… so we launch into the mom role.
There’s a lot of discussion over whether women can and should do it all: working, mothering, and balancing.
I’ve felt this several times… for example, the day of a really important six-figure funding proposal I was pitching to a major foundation, my daughter said “Mama… my stomach hurts.”
That sweet little girl had tears in her eyes as she grabbed at her belly & cringed. The supermom in me wanted to slide into bed beside her, cradle her, feel her forehead, pet her head, snuggle, and sooth. The kickass executive inside me wanted her to be perfectly well and start getting dressed for school. Cue the working mom emergency belly-ache checklist:
There was no bucket the day this happened to me. Thank goodness she just needed to get moving and take care of a bodily function… but about the point where I asked her “Do you think you can try to get moving and see if it gets better?” that negative self-talk soundtrack clicked into action…
“Your Mama wouldn’t have ever said that.”
“What’s more important… a half million dollars for your company or the child you brought into this world?”
“I’ve waited three months for this appointment… wonder if they’d ever let me reschedule? Why am I even asking this? Isn’t she more important? UGH! Now I feel sick!”
The dilemma of a working mom…
This starts the moment we become moms… starting with the second people at work find out we’re going to be a mom. All of a sudden that success track seems a little steeper. Those guys look at us with a little less trust in their eyes and a little more caution.
The identities formed through our careers are forced to incorporate this new role. Turmoil is sparked…
Am I a corporate power player?
Am I even actually ambitious?
Why am I second-guessing myself?!?
Am I going to hurt this child?
This self-talk debate can take years to resolve… and sometimes it never gets resolved. (How sad! It’s good you’re not in that group… because you’re here!)
Until now. Yes, we can have it all, and yes, we can do it all… but we have a few tweaks that need to be made to put in in perspective and make it do-able.
When I went to coaches, counselors, and psychologists to ask for help balancing it all, they literally laughed at me. If you know me at all, you know that seriously pissed me off. When I’m pissed, I don’t just sit and stew… I use the energy to make something awesome.
My friend Grace says when I decide I’m going to do something, I’m like a mac truck… you just can’t stop me, or at least not very easily.
If you desire flexibility and feel pushed to make decisions that might compromise your career in order to meet your children’s needs… don’t accept the lie that you cannot do it all. You can. I’m living proof.
If you feel like you’re not doing enough for your career or your children and you’re torn between clashing domains… know that can stop… without either side losing, and without you having to give up anything.
If you feel like you’re not really succeeding no matter how hard you try, the time for that is over.
According to the Journal of Psychology, 82% of working moms say balance is impossible. The majority of them thought juggling work and family was impossibly difficult and created a no-win situation.
One of the study participants said:
“…this whole myth that you can have a job, a deep relationship with your children, and a great relationship with your partner—that you can have all of that stuff, which they’ve been telling women since the 70s, it’s just bull. Completely not true. Something has to give.”
I really wish that weren’t a double-blind study because I’d love to contact that woman… and let her know that she’s wrong. She just doesn’t have a system that works (obviously). I do.
The good news to working moms is that zero studies show working mothers is harmful in any way to their children’s well-being… no matter how many tummy aches they have to tough out. A recent Pew Research Study found women who work and fulfill personal aspirations are more psychologically equipped for parenting and give a more positive example to their children than women who go the 100% “nurture” route. It’s the role of being a role model: fulfilling an individual purpose instead of living for the individual purposes of other people.
Careers help establish identities and fulfillment. Motherhood does, too… in its own way. What is the solution?
It’s pretty simple. Doing it all doesn’t mean you have to do it simultaneously. One of the things I do with my clients is come up with unique and individualized life plans to help them realistically plan and achieve goals for 360-degree success and fulfillment. Envisioning lives over periods of time helps not only to establish career goals but personal goals as well.
We can have it all, we just have to have a great plan. This takes time, energy, attention, and intentionality.
Some working moms say “something has to give.” I agree. They have to give themselves a chance to consider the third alternative… because there is one, now thanks to those jerks who laughed at me plus my stubborn mac-truck determination.
Do you want to explore the third alternative or do you know someone who needs this? Awesome. That’s what I’m here for. Click here and let’s talk about it or forward this and show a kick-ass hard-working mom that you care. It may be the thing she’s been hoping or praying for, and most likely is.
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