I happen to have a propensity for guilt. Although I am not sure of the origins of this tendency to own every hiccup in life, I battle it daily. Add that I am a working mother of two small girls and this doesn’t help with my guilt ridden personality.
When it comes to being a working mom, I often cannot quite tell what exactly I feel so guilty about. Do I regret not having as much time as I would like with my girls? Or am I feeling badly about the fact that I like my job, that it satisfies a core part of my personality? If the latter, what kind of mother does that make me?
I would like to think that every mom feels just like I do but the fact is they don’t. I have some amazing women in my life who are strong and confident in their choices to excel at work and raise really likable children. These women are wonderful examples to me and their advice helps me curb the guilt.
Recently I had coffee with a girlfriend who is not only successful but is raising two adorable boys. I asked her to share insight on how she gets through the day without nagging bouts of self-reproach.
- Stop apologizing for your choices. Yes you work. Yes you like it. Yes you love your kids. All of these things can go together without competing (well most of the time-perhaps not when you have to call in sick because your 2 year old caught some awful version of the stomach bug). Change your perspective and focus on what a great example you can be to your children by modeling work ethic, passion, and drive. These are important traits to possess and who better to teach your children than you?
- Be true to who you are. Follow your own path and not a prescribed path you think is correct. There are so many ways to “mommy” children. Do it your way and you will feel better about it. I spent the first year of my oldest daughter’s life trying to prescribe to every sleep ritual out there. None of them felt right to me and none of them worked well for my daughter. Once I accepted the fact that the
As we remember the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, it brings an extra poignant punch to me. My mom died that week too. It wasn’t in New York, Pennsylvania or Washington, D.C. It was in a tiny rural Iowa hospital. I spent her last few days of fighting breast cancer, stranded in the heartland with no way to return myself and 10-month-old son to Texas where my husband was separated from his family, holding together the staff of our company and wondering what was going to happen next. My heart was broken 3 days later again when mom left us too.
The loss of my mother was the most painful thing I have been through in my life. Yet, it gave me a gift. It gave me empathy for those going through the loss of a loved one. Unfortunately, this understanding has been tapped many times as the demographics of our company has hit the stage where many are losing parents. I understand that grief doesn’t end when the legal paperwork of the estate gets wrapped up. It doesn’t ease up at the same time or in the same way for everyone. I know that you can bury the feelings and yet they can still be there.
I lived through the following year of 2001-2002 and all the uncertainty the world felt, with an additional anger of being robbed of the sweetest person I will ever meet. I watched the 1-year anniversary roll around with quite a bit of media fanfare and I realized that this would happen for my family forever. Everyone on my staff and my friends that knew us then, remember with me now. Yet others have the date of the loss of their loved ones slip by with few others knowing they need a pat on the back, maybe a little extra time on a deadline or a complete distraction for a few moments on a rough day.
I have no grief counseling training. I am only speaking from experience. I have watched the pain of way too many employees as they know the death of a parent is coming and the inevitable loss. I have been held tight in a hug of more than 1 employee who otherwise may have not touched a co-worker for more than a handshake. But when you are genuine in your kind words at a time when you can tell the pain is there, they grasp to the one who can show them life will go on with a new normalcy. I have found fewer words are often better and an open door is welcome. Keeping the grieving person engaged is usually needed and it usually helps.
It is still draining for me when any of my friends or employees go through the loss of a loved one. It grabs my heart and I feel further invested in them. For me, each time, I can frankly only soothe myself by saying, “at least I won’t have to lose my Mom ever again.” Sometimes that is how I get though it quickly. I can’t believe it has been 10 years since I heard my Mom’s voice but I know I love her as much today as I ever have, so I know it’s all OK.
The 9/11 anniversary is a reminder for each of us to think about what grief is and how we help others deal with it. I can assure you I am willing to help you through it if you want to chat.
Photo credit iStockphoto
Motherhood. This is the single most difficult and demanding job any woman could have.
Mothering twins should be twice as hard, right? Wrong.
Since women began flooding the workforce in the 1970’s, the challenges of being a working mother have multiplied. There are issues with day care selection, breastfeeding, whether to work full or part time, and making sure your children are developing properly, to name a few.
As a mother of infant boy/girl twins, I faced many sleepless nights worrying about these things until it hit me. By using some basic business management principles, it is possible to be a success at home and at work.
Borrowing from Henri Fayol, an important figure in the turn-of-the-century Classical School of management theory, there are five key components to a manager’s job. They are:
- Coordinating activities
- Controlling performance
By putting these management skills into place at home in a fun way, it makes being a working parent of multiples that much easier.
Finding out you are pregnant with twins is the shock of a lifetime. Once you get past that initial reaction though, there are many ways you can plan and prepare that will make your life easier once the twins are born. The first thing you need to do is realize that for all the best laid plans, no two children are the same. I have found that as sure as something works for one twin, something completely different will work with the other. That said, some planning is necessary.
- Join a support group. The National Organization of Mothers of Twins, Inc. (www.nomotc.org) is a great place to start. The website has great resources for parents of multiples and you can meet other mothers who will give you practical advice to get you through your pregnancy and tips on being successful once the twins arrive.
- Contact companies that make baby products. Many such as Gerber, Pampers, Huggies, Enfamil, and Johnson & Johnson have special offers for families of multiples. Sign up and you will receive coupons that will save you hundreds of dollars.
- Use online auction sites to purchase many items in bulk. You can find everything from formula to disposable diapers.
Schedule, schedule, schedule. The hardest part of being a new parent is having a baby that is not on a schedule. So, multiply that by additional babies and you can see where the problems begin. You don’t have to schedule out every minute of the day, however, scheduling the critical feeding times is a must when you have more than one baby to contend with. It will make life easier and you will find you have the ability to take the babies out into the world easier because you know when they will have their needs met.
My approach to mothering multiples as it applies to commanding was very soft. I’d say that “nudging” their behavior has been what has worked best over the course of the past seven years. When you have two children, any time one is in trouble, the other twin is watching and waiting to jump in to the defense of their brother or sister (unless they were fighting with each other). So, they learn how mom or dad behaves to the sibling and then they exploit it the next time they are doing something wrong.
The best commander knows when to use a gentle approach, when to bring out the big guns, and how to pick their battles so that they walk away from the small stuff.
Take time out to enjoy the twins together and individually. One of the most surprising things to me has been my twins’ desire to be together most of the time. I assumed that having boy/girl twins that they would not be attached as same sex twins. I was wrong! Still to this day I can’t take one to the mall or out to do something fun without them wanting to call each other and check in throughout the day. So now, my husband and I work with this and make sure to build in talk-time for the twins when we take them out separately.
Like any good manager knows, it is not possible to control performance. You can set up an environment in your home where you teach love, respect, trust, and other key values. You can demonstrate living those values for your kids. Those are the two components that should lead to having the children behave in a manner that will make you proud.
All these principles work whether you are raising twins or kids in general. The best thing I’ve learned by mothering is that it makes me a better manager at work too.
What do you think? Do you mother like you manage and manage like you mother?
Photo credit iStock Photo