Dear Working Mom – It’s okay to not be superwoman
As a working mom, I understand how difficult it can be to feel stretched between work priorities and home priorities. It’s tough. It’s even more difficult if your desire is to be a stay-at-home mom.
If you’re struggling to “have it all” and be the superwoman you’re supposed to be, this post is for you. Spoiler alert: it’s okay to not be superwoman.
All moms are expected to be superwoman.
We have a laundry list of motherly and wifely duties. Laundry, cooking, cleaning, caring for the children, playtime, family time and connecting with our partner are just some of what we do. If we’re lucky, as I am, we have a partner that works with us on most of these to alleviate the burden.
However, even with help, it doesn’t change our desire to excel at everything we do in the home. We want to know our children and our spouse inside and out. We are generally the one responsible for remembering important dates, events, and small details. It’s exhausting as any mother, stay-at-home or working, can attest to.
But there is a special kind of Hell that a working mom often finds herself in.
Working moms have all of the mom expectations, but have half of the time to do it in. We are up early, in bed late, and squeeze in as much as possible in between. And yes, we too are woken in the middle of the night by nightmares, stuffy noses, and the occasional tumble out of bed.
In our limited time, we try to exercise, socialize, relax, raise healthy and happy children, nurture our marriage and succeed in the workplace. And sometimes, the success in the workplace only comes from spending more time thinking about or working on, work.
We sign on for special projects and committees. We try to stay innovative, available, and “on the ball.” And often, we’re trying to do this while taking breaks to pump, even if that means bringing our cell phone to the lactation room so we can sit in on a conference call at the same time. Yes, I’ve done this.
All of these work things then interfere with everything else we’re trying to handle. So not only do we have less time, but we often feel guilty. It happens when our two worlds collide and we face the decision of being a subpar parent or a subpar employee.
Like when our child is sick and we have to leave to pick them up from daycare or school.
Or when we get the stink-eye from coworkers because of our newly established “flexible hours.” If only they knew how inflexible these hours really were.
And when our boss questions our commitment to the team when we ask if working this Saturday is mandatory. We’d really like to go to the zoo with our family.
It’s okay to shift your priorities
Thankfully, those days are behind me. I finally made the decision that this societal pressure to do it all, be it all, and have it all….is garbage. And it’s not for me.
Unless you are in love with your job and couldn’t imagine living without it, it’s okay to finally say enough. Some women absolutely love what they do and find tremendous fulfillment in it. If you’re one of those, great. But since you’re reading this, I’ll assume you’re one of the 99% that are tired and feeling out of control of your own life.
I hear you.
I’m telling you it’s okay. You do not have to be superwoman.
It’s okay to not stay late, go in early, and work extra days. It’s okay that your priorities have shifted now that you’re a mom. If your family is number one, it’s okay not to aspire to climb the corporate ladder. Don’t do it because you think it’s necessary.
We do not have to be superwoman despite what we’ve been led to believe.
The idea that women need to “lean in” was popularized in the book of the same name by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. I’m calling BS on this one. While technically based on facts, the idea is one of opinion.
Sheryl isn’t the only one to convey the idea that women are behind because we are making the wrong decisions and keeping ourselves behind. That we’re not pushing ourselves enough for progress.
There have always been advocates of the idea that we need to forge ahead for progress. And in some areas of life, it’s true. However, I disagree wholeheartedly with this in regards to business and I think it’s damaging that this idea is so prevalent in our society.
I do not disagree that there are fewer women in higher positions of authority, both in government and business. I also recognize the lower pay issue as well as all other issues women face in business. After all, I am a woman myself.
But this idea has become such a prominent topic of discussion that many fail to consider the idea that the “have it all” lifestyle may not be what all women want. Has anyone considered that some of us are choosing to stop progressing?
Men in high positions often miss out on a lot in their families. They have to go on business trips, stay late to work, and hear about children’s milestones second hand. I don’t know about you, but that’s not the life I want. And not just for me. I don’t want my husband to have that life either! It’s why neither of us will ever be CEO’s, COO’s, or corporate management.
I’ve been high up the ladder. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. You cannot have it all. Having it all does not exist. It is a myth.
There is a finite amount of time, energy, and dedication that one can provide to any given venture. You cannot give 100% to everything. To give to one thing, you must give something up somewhere else. To try to be superwoman is only to needlessly exhaust yourself. Because you are going to fail somewhere.
If you run your own business, you can get much closer to having it all. You have much more flexibility. But there will still always be moments when you must choose. Do you choose family or work?
Some of us simply choose to stay lower on the ladder. And there is nothing wrong with that.
Prioritizing family is enough.
Work is meant to support our lives; there is nothing wrong with not prioritizing it equally. It isn’t supporting our lives fully if it’s causing distress in caring for our family. Work should not interfere with what we really value in life.
There are many women that choose to prioritize and focus on family. If they work, it is to pay the bills. Nothing more. I fall into this category.
I no longer prioritize work on any level in my personal life.
The decision to change professions came shortly after my son was born and I was laid off from my job. After much introspection, I knew that continuing in that career would be a tremendous mistake.
I was good at it. The money was great. I already had a network of contacts within the industry. And I walked away from all of it. Why?
Because my priority is my family.
That career kept me at work late. It stressed me out. It forced me to have to think about work, and sometimes do work when I was supposed to be at home with my family. That was no longer acceptable to me.
It didn’t matter that I wasn’t climbing the ladder anymore. It doesn’t matter how high you get if you aren’t living in line with your priorities. Because no matter what you get from your job, it’ll never be enough to make you feel happy and whole.
Our worth, purpose and value in life do not have to be tied to work.
Lots of women continue to strive in work because it’s where they find their worth. And that’s great. But it’s not necessary that work be a priority to obtain that same purpose and value.
If you’re in a career that you can only find a sense of accomplishment in from working tirelessly and giving up family time for, then it might not be the right career. It doesn’t match with your priorities.
As I said before, I do not prioritize work. It is a job. It’s a job I like, but just a job. I do not aspire to climb any higher. But I feel very accomplished.
I’ve received lots of recognition from higher levels within the company for my excellent work. I’ve been told there were conversations of “poaching” me for another department.
I haven’t done anything special for this. No late nights. No extra projects or weekend work. I simply did my job and did it to the best of my ability.
A sense of accomplishment can be obtained in all areas of life, including work. It doesn’t require all of us to be so. It shouldn’t be given any more value than it deserves based on our priorities.
Find your worth in the value you bring to your community, your home, your place of worship.
Have a purpose in the children you raise and the relationships you build.
You have value in everything you do. We are all valuable.
Our work doesn’t define us.
It’s okay to not be superwoman
Being a working mom is tough all on its own. For some of us, it’s a choice. For others, it’s our only option. Whichever group you fall into, it shouldn’t be made more difficult by feeling like you must excel and rise in both. You can be great and successful in your career without sacrificing your life to it.
Unfortunately, we sometimes deal with negativity when we realize this and choose to refocus life on our true priorities. Coworkers now annoyed by your “lack of commitment?” Screw ’em. You are no longer controlled by the job; you have a family and that is the greatest purpose there is. There is nothing wrong with making your work secondary to your family.
So skip out on Saturday overtime to go camping as a family. Leave on time to make it to your son’s game. Forget about signing on for extra work and watch your daughter play Juliet in the school play.
You’re a working mom, but you do not have to be superwoman. You just have to be true to yourself and decide who you want to be. Being there for your family won’t make you superwoman, but it will make you supermom.
I’d choose the title of supermom over superwoman any day.
How do you handle being a working mom? Have you struggled to prioritize family over work, or felt guilty for it? Let me know in the comments!
-To your Better Life-
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