Don't get me wrong. When it comes to women having a seat at the decision-making table, being given due respect in the workplace for our skills and effort, and the equalizing of parenting roles and responsibilities - we as women are making progress and should continue to strive for better (for us).
However, the idea that women as mothers can "have it all" if they just hustle hard enough – the image of the perfectly balanced lifestyle with no mom-guilt, heartbreaking sacrifices, or compromises: that's just not how motherhood (or really, life for anyone) really works.
I owned my own consulting company – made my own hours. I had the flexibility to work from home. And I worked part-time hours at that. And I had part-time babysitting support. Even with what I’d viewed as the best-case scenario for balancing work and caregiving for my daughter – I was constantly exhausted, hyper-vigilant, and stressed with many emotional breakdowns during the first year.
The honest reality is:
- There are not enough hours in a day to do it all (full-time job, laundry, food, caregiving, exercise, cleaning, sickness, appointments, school projects, meaningful friendships, the list goes on…).
- Even if you outsource any of these – especially caregiving – part of you wants to spend more time with your kids and/or compensate for lost time and availability.
- If we choose not to sleep or care for our bodies, minds, and spirit to “life hack” into achieving more – the stress and neglect causes definite physical, mental, and emotional health impacts.
So, what can we have as moms?
- The freedom to say “no” and take stuff off our plate – You are no less of a mother for prioritizing your sanity and choosing to do what matters most for your family.
- The insight to identify mom-guilt for what it is – nothing more – Because we have beating hearts and want what’s best for our families, no matter what we choose for our work cadence, whether we choose to work outside the home at all – we will always have those thoughts that we should be doing more. Learn to accept those thoughts for what they are – and let them go on their way.
- The capacity to make choices, and then change our minds – I personally have spent SO much time in my life researching or obsessing for the “best”, #1, top-rated products or ways of sleep training, food introduction, working from home, everything. The one thing I have learned is that there is no one-perfect way to do anything. Try something out – if it does not work – you are not a failure! None of our decisions have to be or feel permanent. Work from home, work out of the home, stay at home, go part-time – you will find what works for you.
- The vulnerability to seek help and healing – Moms are superheroes with an amazing drive and determination. But we are also human, we get sick, we miss deadlines, we experience trauma (I’ll say it – childbirth). And we need time and space to heal and seek help from others.
I wish there were a silver bullet that could save us all from the heartache and stress that is being a modern mother. But I do believe motherhood reveals the necessary humanity that we each have. And for what it's worth - balance is not a relaxed, static pose. It's a constant push and pull of opposing forces that we're not meant to hold permanently. We need rest and pause between the balancing of life.
Take a deep breath love,