This is one of the best head shots I’ve ever had; what I love about it is what you don’t see. I had it done while I was still on maternity leave. It was taken in the living room of a good friend with a sheet tacked on the wall behind me. My friend, also a new mom, took my picture with a crying baby on her hip and her toddler playing in front of me. What you can’t tell was that I wore a shirt too tight from my pregnancy weight under my suit jacket and from the waist down I had on exercise pants comfortably loose from the second wear.
“Work and motherhood” is one of those things I want to write about . . . I want to talk about the struggle that comes with trying to do it all and do it all well. I want to give voice to the worries that my children are getting something less than because I work outside of the home. I want to talk about the constant need to prove that being a good mom, an invested mom, doesn’t make me a less committed employee. I want to talk about the hypocrisy that comes from being told not to talk about my family too much at the office when my husband and kids are subjected to a work soliloquy more often than not when I come home from work.
Balancing my life; my responsibilities and expectations as a wife, mother, employee, and boss is messy. I have a lot of questions about my own motivations and what they say about my personality and priorities. Tackling these questions means confronting what I believe makes a good wife, mother, employee, and boss. It means confronting my own expectations for myself, reasonable or otherwise.
I wish I was the mom with exemplary Pinterest skills and that more of my meals came with less preservatives. I wonder whether my daughter would grow out her bob if my braiding skills were just a little more advanced and feel little twinges of guilt every time I pick up a birthday cake from the local grocer.
However, don’t take my domestic deficiencies to mean everything is all buttoned up at the office. More often than not I am strolling into work with a suit smudged by sticky fingers, puppy slobber, and spilt coffee. My briefcase is packed with files and fruit snacks, and I’ve likely left my business cards on the console of my minivan. With any luck a few won’t have crayon marks on them.
I turned 38 just 6 months before delivering my second child. While on maternity leave I suffered and survived sepsis, kidney stones, and buying and moving into a new home. I returned to work after just 12 weeks of maternity leave and during the next one and a half years promoted twice – into executive management positions with greater and greater responsibility.
I am an attorney and the director of a state agency with over a hundred staff. I manage a budget of over $15 million, administer more than 30 different Public Acts, sit on the Council for the Business Law Section of the State Bar in my jurisdiction, and write a quarterly column for a professional journal.
I chaperone field trips, volunteer to speak at chapel at school once a year, teach my daughter’s elementary class at church, host a small group, take the puppy to weekly obedience classes, do all of the grocery shopping, and most of the meal preparation in our home.
This is how momma works.
I still feel like I might be screwing it up on all fronts. I feel like I’m not enough and worry about the wrong things. I think too much about next steps and proficiencies. I worry when math seems harder for my daughter and kick myself for not remembering when it’s gym day. And, on Friday mornings I am wishing I had reminded my daughter to look for the library books the night before. I made myself sick for the three weeks when my youngest went to daycare – fighting to tear myself from the video feed I had access to.
I wonder sometimes about being a stay-at-home mom and my husband laughs – says I’d go nuts. I think to myself he’s probably right and then wonder what kind of mom that makes me.
I used to think I had to obtain that next promotion, until I did.
Again and again.
Now I find myself wondering why God keeps entrusting me with more and more responsibility, surely He wants me to be home with my kids. Right? It’s biblical, isn’t it? But then there is the young man at work who confides he’s happy that I received the promotion, that he thinks we need more Christians in these positions. There is the improved morale and the building of relationships; people taking greater pride in their work and feeling like they made an impact. And I know that these are the reasons that I am here – that this is just one of my mission fields.
This is how momma works.