By: Christy Canary-Garner
Around Mother’s Day, I’ve been reflecting on the constant balancing act faced by working mothers. It’s not a new phenomenon, but recent events have made me think of it differently.
Having lost my mother in February of this year, Mother’s Day has a new meaning this year. It was bittersweet, a day of remembrance and celebration.
I was raised by a single mother and a career woman. She was incredibly driven and passionate about her career, and that rubbed off on me. I’m thankful for the many gifts she gave me, such as my perseverance, my drive, and encouraging me to be a change agent in all aspects of life. The attributes I got from her have helped me endlessly throughout my life and helped me get to the position I’m in today.
She gave me an example to aspire to as a woman with a successful career. It did come with trade-offs, such as missed events and limited downtime, and as a result, I’ve always strived to be there for my girls whenever I can be.
I’m now in my most demanding role yet, and at an unprecedented time. It is harder than ever to unplug from work, ignore your computer and phone, and shift from employee time to mom time. There isn’t the natural transition from time at the office to time at home – they’re the same.
I’m lucky – my two girls are a little older and a bit more self-sufficient (15 and 19 years old). If they were four and six years old, it would only compound the difficulty. I feel so much empathy for other working mothers trying to navigate everything going on. It’s a hard line to walk.
Like many women, I want to excel in my career and as a mother, simultaneously. It’s a balancing act that I don’t always get quite right.
To achieve harmony between these two priorities, I remind myself that if you’re not the best you, you can’t be the best to everyone else. You must learn what your priorities are and focus on them. Find your “north star,” if you will, of what matters most to you. Priorities shift, but if you keep your north star in check, you’ll keep the balance correct.
I don’t make it to every volleyball or soccer game or academic event. But I make it to as many as I can, and I rely on my support system, like my husband or previously my mom, to pick up the slack on the ones I can’t attend. Because I want my daughters to see me as loving, motherly and engaged, but also as driven, aspirational and hard-working.
That’s why this Mother’s Day was also a chance to take some time away from work to focus on being a mom. It’s crucial to unplug from work and to have the discipline not to feel guilty about it. I know my priorities and my north star, and if I’m true to those, I don’t let worries about how others view my decisions overshadow me.