Have you guys read this article? It’s excellent.
The gist: even in this day and age, a woman can’t have it all. Surprise! You’ll be even more surprised at this: I agree. Moms, please don’t get offended and stop reading. Let me explain.
I am not at all a barefoot-and-pregnant-kept-in-the-kitchen type of a mom. I am a mom and wife first, true, but I am also a parent coach and a friend. I have numerous degrees, and have authored several chapters/articles in various books. I am an athlete. I try to be a better bargain shopper, which means not doing all of my shopping at one store (though would I ever love to just do that, because it is so.much.easier). I work, and do a good job, but my job does not define me. I am like so many of you. And yet, I also know that because I have chosen to be all of the above, I cannot be the employee that would stay at work all hours – doing a damn fine job, naturally – but being away from my family. I am not a career-oriented person (much to my husband’s chagrin), and I am okay with that.
I do not want to be the mom that leaves first thing in the morning, leaving her kids with the nanny, only to see them 30 minutes at night right before they go to bed. I firmly believe you cannot be the most present mom if you are the most present employee. That said, there is nothing wrong with being a working mom. Hats off to those of you who have made that work for you. To me and for my kids, I feel that short-changes my kids, and even if I found a nanny who was thoroughly loving and gave my kids direction and discipline, who could cook healthy meals and kiss their owies, that person still wouldn’t be me.
This may be a poor analogy, but being a mom-that-has-it-all is like trying to be a cross-trainer shoe. It’s a good shoe – maybe even a great shoe – but it doesn’t have all of the qualities of, say, two shoes, one for running and one for tennis. The cross-trainer does the job well, but maybe only 85% as well as the other shoes do in their specialized sport. Is it better to be able to do all things, but not as well? Depends on whom you ask. Depends on if you’re a runner or a tennis player. Or a kid. I don’t want my kids to have a cross-trainer mom. Long ago, I realized that when I’m old and gray, my job won’t be there for me; my kids and hubby would be, though. To me, family is in it for the long haul.
Likewise, I wouldn’t want to be a cross-trainer employee, either. If I worked long days, I would have half a heart and mind with my kids and husband. Instead of focusing on whatever job task I had in front of me, I’d be wondering about my middle son’s field trip, or worrying about my youngest’s karate session. I wouldn’t be paying 100% attention in the meeting, but rather wondering about what my husband might like for dinner, and wishing it wouldn’t rain so I could get a ball –tossing session in with the kids. Or thinking about what else I might try to help my oldest get a better grasp on his presentation topic. Family creeps in, no matter how urgent the work task is.
As a parent, I am admittedly not 100% ON for the kids all of the time. I confess: I have used the phone in their presence. But more often than not, the phone is off and out-of-sight, and I am centered on them. Being with the kids centers me; I learn as much from them as they do from me.
You can’t have it all, and it’s okay to be okay with that. It is important, though, to pick what is important and focus your energy on that. If to you work is most important, good for you. Do your best, and accomplish what you can. Be the best at whatever you do. If to you family is most important, good for you, too. Do your best, and be the most present you can be for your family. The important thing is, though, to realize WHAT is most important, and then go with it. Don’t second-guess and don’t ‘what if’ yourself because of your decision. And don’t half-ass it, either, because everyone around you will know. I am not saying that you can’t work AND be a mom. But you’d have to be a superhuman to be a star in both realms, and chances are, your efforts at work and for your family would then put your ME time at the bottom of your Needs Attention list. YOU can’t be collateral damage, either.