Being an Executive Mama

I’ve tried to be a good mother for the last 19 years. Of course, I, like all reflective adults responsible for parenting people aged 13-20, question myself.  In my opinion, teenagers are harder work than “work.” But I’m truly doing my best.

What doesn’t help the questioning is that mothering has become a spectator sport. It
is difficult to find a coach; instead you find a lot of fair-weather fans yelling what an idiot you are from the sidelines. Everyone has an opinion on mothering. And then add working outside of the home? Prepare to get hit with some peanuts from the gallery.

Most books on working mothers are downright depressing. According to these manifestos,
either it is a moral imperative to work outside of the home (”you owe it to the
women who came before you and created your right to options”) OR mothers who stay home with their children are morally elevated and celebrated and working mothers, either by choice or necessity, are denigrated.

Today is an interesting day for me to share my thoughts on determining for yourself
how you might embody great motherhood, as my oldest is struggling a bit with the transition to adulthood.  So, of course, I question myself and what I might have done differently or start to do differently.  Regardless, below are the principles by which I live.

1. If you have a child, you are responsible for the physical, mental, and spiritual care-taking of that child until they are at least 18 years old. It would be great if you had help . . . a village even . . .but don’t count on it.  Especially in the United States. (Yes, that is a political statement).  And while you are not technically responsible past 18, and should even be letting go, you will most likely think about and try to positively influence the physical, mental, and spiritual health of that individual for the rest of your life.

2. It is worth your time to define what you mean by “physical, mental, and spiritual
care-taking.” There are baseline levels established by law and common sense, but other than that, people define them differently. “Physical” can range from well-balanced meals and a warm place to sleep to driving little Kyle around the country thousands of miles a year as he plays competitive soccer.  “Mental” may mean a decent school and some discussions around the dinner table regarding how to resolve conflict with your siblings and the mean kids at school.  To others it might means private schools, tutors, therapists, and personal meditation guidance.  “Spiritual”can be actively connecting your family to something greater than themselves as individuals through civic and global involvement to participation in a religious tradition that guides all choice and action.

You get my point.  You have to create your definition of greatness and judge yourself against that.

3. What you decide to take on in the workplace and in your community should
depend heavily on your definition of caretaking in question #2.   And who else you’ve got in your life that agrees with the definition and is willing to play a part. FACT:  If you work, you’ll need help delivering on your vision of parenting.  FACT:  There is no such thing as total work/life balance.  If you work, you’ll miss some things at home.

I suggest you truly reflect on your definition of great motherhood.  Even write it down.  And then review what you are doing today to align your actions with your definition.

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