With Mother’s Day around the corner, it’s a good time to reflect on how we, as working moms, manage the balancing act of work and kids. Because it’s a tough balance, and we all know it.
My eldest daughter is now 23, so I have been managing the balance for a while now. I have been an entrepreneur for 19 years, and was employed full time before that. And although I haven’t known any different for so long, being an entrepreneurial mom has been much easier than being employed under someone else.I like to think that that has influenced the way I have managed the moms I have employed over the years in a positive way and that I have made their employment with me more conducive to being a balanced experience for them.
And that’s the point. It took me a while to realize that it’s possible to be a successful career woman and be a present and effective mom all at once.
My early years of parenting were beset with guilt and worry that I was giving neither my career nor my parenting the attention and time they deserved or needed and that both were going to show the signs of this lack in time. I know now that this is common to most in their early years of child rearing and it wasn’t unique to me, it’s a concern shared by many parents.
The turning point came for me when my daughter was 16 and she told me one evening over dinner that she was so pleased that she had a mom who had a career. “Why?” I asked, really intrigued. She went on to explain that she found my world of work fascinating and my financial independence as a result, empowering. She said that the conversations over the years about my work had taught her a lot about the world and what was waiting for her. She described her appreciation of my independence and identity as an entrepreneur, outside of motherhood, being important to her now that she was growing up and seeking her own independence. She also identified that having a working mom had provided her with an opportunity to develop self-reliance and independence that she wouldn’t have otherwise developed to the degree that she had. Skills she believed were required for her future and had strengthened her self esteem.
It was after this conversation with my very mature and insightful daughter that I started to see my relationship with parenting and my career in a very different light. I saw my career as adding to my children’s experiences rather than taking away from them. The richness of my experiences out in the world were adding to my children’s world and the value that I was taking from my career was adding to my children’s lives.
This change in perspective had an energizing effect on both my career and my parenting and encouraged me to overlap both worlds and engage my children in my working world in a way that hadn’t occurred to me before. My son is now also entering the workplace and for the second time I am witnessing the value of the years of osmotic workplace talk and experiences paying dividends. He is taking to his new role like a duck to water. I have one more to send into the workplace and she should be so well prepared with all this dinner talk of work experiences, she will in any event have no excuses.