How many times have you been in a social context with a bunch of professionals and the question comes up, "So, what do you do?"
Looking back at how I would react in the past, I wish I had responded with some pithy remark on how I'm a semi-retired assassin; instead, I would answer (in a hushed tone) "Oh, I'm just a mum at the moment".
The 'just a mum' who sacrifices herself from the moment of conception to cater for her child's every need. The one who kept herself well and healthy so that her children had the very best start in life. The 'just a mum' who suffered the sciatic nerve being pinched for months, bleeding nipples and sleep deprivation. The one who knows when it's book character day, stands on the sideline in all weather, nurses the chickenpox fever, and makes metallic slime the evening before the science project is due. The reliable rock, hug-provider, numero-uno go to.
Yet, if we are to believe what we are being fed from our culture, this comes at a price, namely social economic value and self-worth. Our modern society has very unrealistic expectations around the value of motherhood and family. Value is measured by individual professional successes lead around by the nose by your economic worth.
"So, what is it that you do again Vic?” Jaw remains clenched.
We've set completely unrealistic and unachievable expectations around the reality that is work/life balance. We must have a great education, be visibly successful with a well-adjusted family unit, be a solid support system for our partner, participate regularly in a large and diverse social circle, be well travelled, well informed, and top that all off with an incredibly successful career. God forbid, we're even supposed to have time to read! Yet, who actually benefits from all of this expectation? And, more importantly, why do we feel compelled to keep trying to measure up?
Like many women, I've tried the "superwoman" strategy to balance, I am sure you recognize her. Sleep deprived, caffeinated, bumping frenetically through a busy schedule of work, maintaining a home, a well-nourished and happy family, keeping physically fit, running between violin practice, dog walk, supermarket shop and netball practices.
"Oh I’m just super", says my Facebook status downed with a good bottle of red.
Not to be outdone, enter that wee monkey called fear. Fear of now not being good enough, fear of letting someone or something down. The inability to simply say, "No, I can't", because we're perpetually caught in a repeat cycle of people pleasing. Exhausted, adrenals fatigued, irritable, resentful even.
"Hey Vic, How are you?"
"Great! Really busy, you know how it is..." said through tight smile
And why? Because there is no value attached to being 'just a mum'. And we all need to take a few moments, breath and slow the f**k down.
It's time to stop the hamster wheel in its dusty little tracks. Give ourselves the credit and recognition that is well overdue. Being 'just a mum' is hands down one of the hardest, yet rewarding jobs you can ever have. And, what women need is not to be judged for wanting flexibility to enjoy our families, but to have the opportunity to be the parents we want to be and continue to feel a valued with a sense of purpose, rewarding us emotionally, socially, and financially.
Keri and I have been designing a platform, that looks at how we can increase our personal and financial worth, yet still maintain a sense of work/life balance. It will be aimed at disrupting the draconian notion of how we work, replace long travel times, office politics and old school perceptions around bums on seats with a solution that is flexible and varied.
In the meantime, we would love to hear your stories around how you manage to keep all the balls in the air. What are some of the struggles you have with being a mum and having a career? Do you think it's possible to have both? Are you trying to be a superhero? We'd love to hear your thoughts.
#beyourownheroine #balance #motherhood #family #value