Beth Howard is a Corporate Trainer for a Healthcare company. She has two young children, Sam (5) and Lucy (2). We asked Beth to share with the Tribute community how she navigates feelings of not being enough as a working Mom, and the advice she’d give to other Moms.
Work and parenting often have competing demands for your time, energy, and passion. How do you find balance?
Up until leaving my job at my former company, I didn’t think balance existed. If it did, I surely didn’t know what it felt like. Leaving my former company was a game changer for me. I went from feeling like I couldn’t stand up from my desk until 5:01 to my new manager explaining that no one is managing my time except myself. True autonomy. What a concept. I guess everyone finds their balance in their own way, but finding an employer that values my contributions based on the results I produce regardless of how many hours I spend physically in my office every day was a turning point.
Tell us a time or experience when you felt “not enough”.
My son just started Kindergarten and it’s not going as smoothly as I had hoped. We had the classic “first day of school” experience with pictures of our smiling boy excited to ride the school bus. Fast forward four weeks and he is in tears nearly every morning. The kindergarteners are assigned a “bus buddy”, an older student there to help the younger ones make their way from the bus stop to school and back again. One morning when she came to escort Sam to the bus, she reported that he had been crying during the bus ride each morning that week. “Maybe you should just drive him to school,” she suggested. Wham. A reality check in the form of a fourth grader. Is it not enough that I’m already sacrificing getting to work at a reasonable time so that I can hold his hand at the bus stop and give him one last squeeze before he climbs on board?
Truth be told, the school bus is a faster, more convenient way to get our son to school for me and my spouse. When you add in the drop off routine for our daughter, Lucy, to the mix; I literally sprint to make it on time to my daily morning huddle. The thought of battling the drop off line of cars at the school and then hoping Sam can master the duck and roll process to exit the car without that last precious hug, just doesn’t seem like an attractive alternative.
Within the last six months my spouse and I have made significant changes in our lives that were supposed to provide a more accommodating environment for our kids. Specifically, and most importantly, I left my job of eight years for an 85% shorter commute to a position at a new company closer to home. This was supposed to make getting the kids to school and day care, and then myself to work easier! But when your son is there begging for one more hug before he starts his day, suddenly those parking lot sprints don’t seem all that bad after all.
Wow, that is tough. How do you overcome that feeling? What makes you remember that you are, in fact, more than enough?
Sometimes you just don’t. When your daughter is doing that limp noodle whole body tantrum in the parking lot of daycare and you leave her in her classroom before she’s able to stop crying, those days are tough. I wonder all the time— is there some kind of mama trick that I just haven’t discovered yet? How do other Moms strike the balance between being everything for your babies and everything at your job? Now would be a great time for someone to let me in on that secret!
What works for me for right now, to remind myself that I am enough. It is an unmistakable fact that in the most significant moments of my children’s lives, only Mommy will do. It’s mommy they want to show their beautiful artwork to, it’s mommy who can make a skinned knee feel better, it’s mommy who is the best book reader and mommy who gets the last snuggle of the night. Not to say that my spouse isn’t everything to these kids in his own right; he is. But there’s nothing quite like a mom, is there?
When your kids grow up, what do you want them to remember most about you?
Warmth and laughter.
What advice would you give to other working moms?
Sometimes you encounter situations while juggling work and kids where you might sit and think, “I really don’t think I can make this work. I truly can’t see a way to be the best at both.” But you can. You always can. There’s always a way to juggle it all without sacrificing too much one way or the other. And if you start to get tired of the juggling; you stop, and you pick your kids. They’re only little for such a short amount of time. You’ll have decades of time where the work will be there, but the children’s childhood won’t. Choose wisely.