by Jeana Lee Tahnk
Ah, the age-old question mothers ask themselves on a daily basis – am I doing this right? Whether it’s about disciplining tactics or sleep training or if the organic cheez-puffs are really that much better for your kids, motherhood to most is a type of training-in-progress, we learn as we go along. Life as a mom and “CEO” of a household is challenging enough. Throw a career on top of that and you're bound to find a woman who is always stretched, sometimes guilt-ridden and never satisfied. I find that between juggling work, seeking inner peace, wondering if I'm parenting in a way that my kids will need therapy for, and trying to look presentable at the same time, I’m always asking myself this very question.
As a working mom with a part-time schedule, I’m lucky to experience the best (and sometimes worst) of both the working world and the stay-at-home-mom world. The best part for me is being able to have a career for myself and still have quality time during the week to spend with my kids. The worst is the sheer skill required to find that balance between fulfilling both roles well, sometimes I’d even just settle for adequate.
Once, while on an important conference call, I actually had to run, yes run, down the hall away from my toddler daughter as she followed me so that her high pitched screeches wouldn’t filter through the phone. As I hid breathless behind the bed, I quickly finished speaking so I could retreat back into mute mode. I’ve had calls with CEOs of major companies while holding a screaming baby, planning sessions while changing dirty diapers and media calls while trying to feed two hungry kids. And what’s amazing is that this is not a rarity. I’ve heard from so many other moms who have experienced the same kind of scenario, even worse in some cases. Um, breast pump + boss walking in, need I say more?
As moms, we’re always making choices, some we are happy with, some not. Do you forgo pursuing the promotion because you know it will inevitably take more time away from your kids? Do you let your baby cry it out so you can get just a couple more minutes of time alone? Do you pretend to be asleep when your husband climbs into bed because after cleaning the house, making lunches and paying the bills, that is the last thing on your mind?
I’m not always sure that the decisions I’m making for my kids are the best ones. I can think of many things that my parents did when I was younger that I disagree with and I know for sure it will be the same with my kids when they’re older as well. But what I keep trying to remind myself is that I’m doing the best that I can with what I know and what I’ve got. I’ve learned over the years that that is what motherhood is about. It’s about the moment-to-moment. It’s about making the decisions that I think are right at the time and believing in them. I know I’ll look back and have regrets about certain ways I handled situations, or things I could have said differently, but it is in the collection of these moments that I define myself as a mom, a wife, and a woman.
Millions of women face this challenge head-on and somehow manage to make it work. Whether you’re a working mom of three or stay-at-home mom of one, we all share a common bond and can relate to the many joys, hardships and discoveries of raising kids (and husbands!) while still trying to raise ourselves. There are so many joys and challenges that come with being a mom and I don’t have all the answers. No one said it would be easy and no one said it would be fun all the time, but what I’ve learned so far is that a big part of being a good mom is believing, yes, I AM doing this right.