On May 14, 2023, we celebrated Mother’s Day in Canada and it was another opportunity to appreciate the invaluable contributions of the people who have nurtured and cared for us. By its very definition, mothering is a full-time role, requiring round-the-clock, physical and emotional dedication. Add to this already full plate a professional career with its deadlines and professional responsibilities, one gets a live performance of a complex juggling act every day.
We cannot talk often enough about the unique challenges working mothers face daily performing this delicate balancing act with the weight of societal and personal expectations. So at LYP, we celebrated Mother’s Day this year by hearing from working mothers who have graciously raised the curtains on the very real and personal challenges they face. These women have also shared with us some of their best practices and we hope that you find the insights they share both relatable and empowering.
Motherhood is fulfilling…
We asked our community to rate their experience of motherhood from 1 to 10 and it is unsurprising to find that every mom rates the degree of fulfillment they find in their motherhood roles very high. Some of the reasons they have found it fulfilling are:
It is one of the warmest and most fulfilling feelings in the world to be a mother. I always wanted kids and was so happy to be in the role. – Mom (4-year-old and 6-year-old)
The unconditional love you feel for your child compares to nothing else. Seeing the growth and development in my child every single day is also incredibly awe-inspiring and humbling. My son helps me become a better person by helping me develop my own emotional intelligence, awareness, and perspectives. - Mom (5-year-old)
It clearly demonstrates to me that I am contributing to something bigger than myself. Seeing the results of my actions as a mother/parent is deeply rewarding and priceless. - Mom (3-year-old and 18-month-old)
Motherhood is fulfilling but…
It is the hardest "job" I have ever had. I didn't realize how exhausting and hard the role would be. - Mom (4-year-old and 6-year-old)
Motherhood is the hardest role I have ever taken on in my life. - Mom (5-year-old)
I feel under-appreciated and recognized at home versus work where the outcome of one’s efforts may be more immediately apparent and appreciated. I find the mental load of motherhood much more difficult than thinking of and working through work and much more anxiety provoking because the stakes (i.e., my family’s well-being) are so much higher. - Mom (9, 7, and 5-year-olds)
Straddling motherhood and career is hard
Everyone who responded highlighted the inherent difficulty in balancing motherhood and professional demands, as well as the psychological and emotional burden that this creates (aka, mom guilt).
It is a constant balancing act of focusing on children and family or on my work and career goals. I would like to emphasize that balance is probably not the right word here, it is rather prioritization, focusing on one or the other while relying on my support systems. – Mom (4-year-old and 6-year-old)
Being fully present in the home moments and not thinking about work while at home or during family time. - Mom (3-year-old and 18-month-old)
Balancing my energies and willpower. I give 100% to everything I do at work and so by the time the work day ends, I’m quite depleted. - Mom (9, 7, and 5-year-olds)
I think ' mom guilt' is something so many moms deal with, and I am no exception. When your child cries because he doesn't want mommy to go on a Zoom call, asking you if you love work more than you love him, that is when your heart really breaks. So, navigating my role as a professional with that feeling of mom guilt often tagging along has been a challenge. - Mom (5-year-old)
LYP working mothers share what works for them
We really loved the insights LYP working mothers provided because they recognize the immense burden the society piles on and advise working mothers to figure out what works for them.
Know yourself - your values, aspirations, and limits, and get the support you need to focus on what you find valuable at a particular time (they will change) and be present in whatever stage you are at in both your career and your life. - Mom (9, 7, and 5-year-olds)
Celebrate every win, especially the small ones, and make peace with yourself during the moments when it is not perfect or looking productive at home or at work. - Mom (3-year-old and 18-month-old)
Success is such a subjective term, so the definition of it will vary depending on the individual. I would advise working moms to think about their own definition of success (professionally and personally) and work towards achieving that goal. But, in that process, know that you are also an individual and a woman, so don't lose that precious identity of yourself. I firmly believe that a happy mom makes a happy family. So, take care of yourself, take the time to exhale, say 'no', or delegate tasks when necessary. Moms are great at multi-tasking, but it's OK to choose to single task at times. We are already superheroes for bringing life to this world. But even superheroes need a break sometimes. - Mom (5-year-old)
Thank you to all the mothers who responded to the call and enriched this article with their experiences and insights! We truly hope that this was useful to everyone out there! A belated Happy Mother’s Day to all working mothers!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Adetola Oladimeji is a medical doctor and a global health leader who is deeply interested in the use of digital health technologies for optimizing population health outcomes. She is committed to lifelong learning, continuous personal development, and intentional community building. Check out her research and other publications here.