A very early morning text from my oldest daughter reads, “Quick question. Gotta minute?” As Jessica navigates her new role as mom, it’s presented a wonderful opportunity for us to bond even more deeply over the myriad experiences, emotions and challenging decisions she’s been facing. Jessica has a new understanding of and appreciation for the choices I made, and I love the chance to be her 24/7 go-to, mostly providing words of encouragement and support to trust her instincts and trust herself to make great decisions.
No self-help “what to expect” guidebooks can sufficiently prepare you for the transformational moment when you hold your baby for the first time and fall completely and unconditionally in love. I’m continuously asked by young professional women about work/family balance, about how to prepare and navigate the challenges inherent in wanting to be a dedicated mother and an engaged professional. My dear friend and resiliency expert, Faun Zarge, who I had the incredible good fortune to meet when she came to babysit for Jessica almost thirty years ago, says balance is a misnomer, balance implies that work and family should be 50/50. In fact, Faun and I encourage the idea of flexibility and resiliency, an open-minded approach to work/family that enables you to continuously define how you will devote your energy and time, and to make course corrections as the demands and needs of your home life and your work life evolve.
Perhaps what’s been most striking to me is how thirty-one years later, Jessica is facing the same angst that I faced when she was born. I would look longingly at the moms dressed in sweats and they would look enviously at me in my 1990’s career suit and pearls. The discomfort with our choices, the uneasiness about our career/family decisions, the perceived judgment by our peers and extended family members, never dissipates. Learning to choose the path that works best for you, for your child or children, for your spouse or partner, and to find joy and meaning in those choices is ultimately what matters most.
As we look forward with great anticipation to celebrating our first grandmother’s and mother’s day together, Jessica is reminded of what I always say. Every day is mother’s day for me. I’ve been blessed with the four most amazing children, son-in-love and now the most spectacular grandson. And now she totally understands what I mean.
Happy Mother’s Day to my wonderful mother, celebrating her first Great Grandmother’s Day and to all of the inspiring moms, daughters, sisters, aunts, cousins and friends out there!
Lisa Hills is an organizational strategist and workplace expert located in Boston, MA. To learn more and have your workplace questions answered, please contact: [email protected].