"Mothers are all slightly insane". -J.D. Salinger
Did this quote make you smile? If you are a mother, I bet it did. But I would like to revise this quote slightly to be more applicable to my life (I hope J.D. Salinger doesn't mind):
"I, as a working mother, am slightly insane". -J.L. Bilcze
I admit it. I own it. I figure I must be insane to be a wife & mother, climbing the "corporate ladder" and trying to start a business-all at the same time. Is there any way to do all of this without being slightly insane? Let me share a recent experience.
Yesterday, I had a busy but productive day at work. I felt especially good because I treated my management team to lunch as a sign of my appreciation for them (side note- they deserve much more than a lunch. They deserve a year-long tropical vacation!) After lunch, I threw myself into everything I wanted to accomplish for the day. I got myself into such a zone that I didn't look up from my work until 7:30pm. Whoa- I needed to get home. I spent the 45 minute commute home singing to music and chatting on my phone. I walked into a quiet house and figured my husband was in the process of putting our oldest son to bed. I went up to join him. I walked into my son's room and my heart tickled with excitement- the same way I feel every time I walk in the door and get to spend time with my family. As I lay down next to my son to listen to his choice of bedtime story, I realized what I had done.
I HAD MISSED MY SON'S 3RD FOOTBALL PRACTICE.
While this may not sound like a big deal to you, it is a huge deal to me. I had intended to leave work at 5pm on the dot so I could make his practice. This is his first season playing toddler flag football, and I feel it is very important for me to be there supporting him. But yesterday, I WASN'T. Then came the tears. I made it through story time, but downstairs was a different scene. My husband asked me why I was crying and the tears fell even stronger. I couldn't believe that I COMPLETELY FORGOT about football practice. What did this say about me as a mother? Was I placing work ahead of my family? Am I so obsessed about work that I will for the rest of my life forget and miss important family events? AM I A BAD MOTHER???
My husband chalked my drama up to a "mother's moment", whatever that means. He said I'm placing too much stress on myself and that my son will love me anyway. I spent about 1/2 hour sniffling back my guilt. So there it is- my insanity. My constant struggle with the balance between my drive to be a successful leader and also a good wife & parent. Am I really insane? No. But is this situation happening to women everywhere? YES!
I write this blog to share my "insanity" and to say IT'S OK TO MISS A PRACTICE. It's ok to miss a game or a concert or a play. We, as working mothers, constantly allow ourselves to be guilt-ridden for not being the perfect mother. Or perfect employee, manager or leader. WE WILL NEVER BE PERFECT. And that's ok.
As a co-founder of WINGS, I hope to support women struggling with the "insanity" of finding a balance between being a great parent and successful professional. I believe it is possible to find a good balance with the right support. Sometimes the scale will tip more one way than the other. But know you are not alone! We all have our moments of insanity!