Parenting is… a lot.
So is career.
Put them together, and I can’t fathom how I’d make it through a week without the support of my husband.
And, not the kind of support that’s a high-five and ‘you can do it’ (although I appreciate that a lot too).
But the support that looks like making dinners, running errands, enduring the joy of Costco, pick-up and drop-off from school, after-school sports, and homework guidance.
I was recently asked to author my thoughts on how men can support women in the workplace. Naturally, my first thought was about how my male colleagues can create an environment that enables women to thrive and contribute at our best IN our workplace.
But, as I wrote, I realized that one of the most impactful ways that my male colleagues can support women at work is by supporting their
wives, girlfriends, mothers, daughters, sisters in our quest to parent like a super-mom and simultaneously contribute as a super-colleague.
When my husband and I married 17 years ago, it was clear he would lead the household when it came to career. At that time, I had been laid off three times, was living with my parents, and enjoying credit card debt.
But, life has a way of reminding us that part of the joy of living is in the surprises.
Today, he has more flexibility than I do. It may not last forever, but for as long as it does, I know that every step forward that I make in my corporate job is because we are working as a team.
Don’t get me wrong, I still hold the stress of not measuring up to my own expectations of motherhood.
In fact, during a recent coaching session, amidst tears, I documented five qualities of a great mother and then scored myself at how well I’m achieving them. They included:
- available (6 out of 10)
- encouraging (10 out of 10)
- good role model (ended up breaking this into sub-categories)
- fitness (9)
- work/life balance (5)
- eating habits (7)
- kindness (8)
- spirituality (6)
- friendship (7)
- marriage (8)
- teacher (8 out of 10)
- fun (4 out of 10)
My coach encouraged me to ask my son for his point of view on what makes a great mom.
My child’s response was:
“A great mom is exactly like you…but doesn’t yell as much.”
After clarifying that his description of ‘yelling’ is being spoken to firmly (and, yes…I explained…firmly setting boundaries is part of my responsibilities as a mom), I was struck by his description.
All the expectations I have of motherhood and all the messages about falling short…are mine.
It would appear that the one who matters most is happy to have me just as I am. I may be sometimes frantic, sometimes stressed, a little light on fun, but…I am always his mom and he likes me the way I am.
I may be disappointed in how I’m measuring up to my image of what a great mom is, but he’s not. Not one bit.
Being a working mom in America is a tough job. And, as much as I can say it’s been a challenge…I’m one of the lucky ones who has an incredibly supportive husband.
This Harvard Business Review podcast is a fascinating look at what it’s like to be a working mom in America and compares our culture to a few other countries. (Can I just say: I think Sweden has it right!)
So, today, I say thank you.
One thousand thank-you’s to my husband for his support. And, one thousand thank-you’s to the men like him for supporting your wives, girlfriends, mothers, daughters, sisters in our journey to figure out how to be our best at home AND at work.