I love two (somewhat competing things) fiercely.
I love my family. I am married to Eric, a wonderful man who is a true partner in all things life, work and parenting. I have two incredibly beautiful, stunning girls named Aubrey and Emma. We live on the Westside of Atlanta with our two dogs, Po & Kita. These are the pieces of my heart, walking around outside of my body. I love, love, love being a mom.
I love my job. I have the privilege of serving as the Chief Administrative Officer for the Good Samaritan Health Center, a Christ-centered charitable clinic serving thousands of uninsured patients annually. I’m passionate about restoring health equity to under resourced communities, so much so that I co-authored a book with my colleague (and fellow working mom) on the topic. More on this here: https://www.ivpress.com/how-neighborhoods-make-us-sick. My work is a way for me to live out my life mission – to restore broken things to new life (both people and systems).
Yet despite my love for the work I do outside the home, I think about quitting at least once a day. Not for the typical reasons you might expect. On the contrary; I love my organization, I love my coworkers, I think the mission is fantastic, and I look forward to going to the office.
I think about quitting because I’m exhausted. Somewhere between the early morning routine, the budget analysis, the dinner demands, the people management, the dirty diapers, and policies & procedures and the nursing in the middle of the night I wonder how I can keep this up. I did it today…but can I do it again tomorrow…especially on six hours of sleep (or less)?
I remember a few years ago reading Angela Duckworth’s (working mom) breakout book Grit: The Power of Passion & Perseverance. In the first chapter she describes the seven-week intensive training “Beast Barracks” program for new recruits at West Point. It’s rigorous on purpose. It’s how they help people make the transition from new cadet to soldier. To illuminate the difficulty, Duckworth includes a copy of their daily schedule: a 5:00 am wake up with the entire day organized in 30-45 minute increments for training, classes, personal maintenance, time with their Commander, etc. until taps at 10:00 pm. Chapter 1 then seeks to answer the question, “Who makes it through Beast?”
Moms. Moms make it through Beast. Moms are beasts. The working moms I know rock at least a 17 hour day – and they do it for 18+ years. Or they make a hard choice. Some realize maintaining a West Point level schedule is not sustainable and they quit their jobs (because we can’t and don’t want to quit our families), feeling like the problem was them. They walk away from work sad that they couldn’t do it all.
This blog was born out of the question, “What if moms don’t have to quit to find balance?” What if there are tangible ways our workplaces could adjust that would have minimal impact on the corporate environment but would allow for huge gains for moms – encouraging women to continue their careers, fulfill their dreams, and occupy higher levels of leadership in society?
When I look at my two dynamic, smart, capable daughters I feel an urgency to figure this out. I love my wild and breathless life, but I want better for them. I want them to be able to “have it all”, but not at the expense of their sanity or health.
I’m not just pointing a finger at corporate America. As an executive of a non-profit that has nearly 50 full time employees, most of which are working moms, this is my responsibility too. When I challenge, question, or push organizational leaders toward change I am also talking to myself. I’m in this, as a mom and a leader, with mud on my boots but determined to find a path forward.
Join me and let’s create a working world where we keep moms happy through all seasons of life. Not just because it’s a good thing to do, but because we desperately need moms to make our organizations better, across all industries.