Being a working mom shouldn’t be such a downer the way it’s often represented on TV and in movies. I understand they are most often comedies meant to help us LOL at our motherhood status that sucks at our boobs and often at our spirit. And I appreciate that they are meant to give us a welcome break from our daily grind of goo-goo-ga-gas and Google Hangouts.
What bugs me is that there isn’t enough representation of women who tackle work, life and family with grace. There aren’t enough stories of real, hard-working moms who are doing their best instead of doing it all—without all that mama drama. That is why I launched my blog, Love, Emoem (spell the world mom out loud and it sounds like em-o-em), with my blogging partner, Tracey Ho Lung.
For just over a year, we’ve been asking women to reveal how they mesh career with motherhood while in the comfort of their own homes. We’ve been met with open hearts and long conversations and the collective experience continues to be better than any self-help book, because after every door closes behind us, we’ve discovered a new way to make our own lives that much easier.
To celebrate our blog’s recent anniversary, I wanted to share some a-ha moments that will give you hope that working motherhood can be a state of grace with a few simple tweaks of perspective.
1) Break the habit of being so busy.
Afiya Francisco is the creator of The Style House, a blog she launched soon after her first baby was born. She’s also a lifestyle personality for CTV’s Your Morning. A mom to two boys, she admits there were plenty of tears while she forged her path as a working mom, but now she feels like she’s in a state of flow.
“I used to glorify being busy. It made me feel validated and important. Like so many people, I would say the same things: ‘Oh, I’m so swamped and I’m so crazy.’ Then I made a conscious decision to stop saying that and it has made a significant difference. I still remember teary mornings when the boys were young and I was building my career, times when I always seemed to be exhausted. [Eventually] I realized I needed to change my inner dialogue and place more emphasis on my physical and mental well-being. I started reading Eckhart Tolle The Power of Now and Stillness Speaks and Michael A. Singer’s The Untethered Soul. These books emphasize the importance of paying attention to your thoughts and being in the present moment. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by thinking about what is coming up tomorrow and the next day and the next week, I try to stay on the task at hand.”
2) It’s about work-life acceptance not work-life balance.
Bernadette Morra has a long-standing love affair with her work, which she pursued after having her twin sons who are now eighteen years old. Her career as a fashion editor has spanned over twenty-five years with an impressive stretch at The Star followed by seven years as the editor-in-chief of FASHION magazine. Her words of wisdom: Give yourself a break.
“I believe you can have it all; however, it means adjusting expectations and accepting what’s in front of you. For example, I probably didn’t read a book for ten years and finally was able to join a book club four years ago…and that’s okay. When the boys were little, me-time was going to the grocery store, and I always made an appointment to get my nails done every two weeks to find time for myself. I also find scheduling helps. We had a standing date every Saturday morning with my dad for breakfast and I made the weekends family-focused as much as I could. When I\it didn’t work out because of travel or work, I didn’t judge myself for it.”
3) If attachment parenting isn’t your jam, that’s totally okay.
Micah Cameron was the women’s wear fashion director for Hudson’s Bay a little over a year ago and now she owns Frankie’s Surf Club, a lifestyle and online shop that’s just a few months older than her babe. She’s going with the flow and defining what’s best for her family, even if that means going against what the mommy blogs say.
“How do I do it all with a baby? To be honest, work-life balance isn’t really an issue for me so far. [My husband] Colin and I are really laid back and easy going. While attachment parenting is nice in theory, Marlon doesn’t completely rule our day-to-day lives. We work around his sleep-eat-play schedule and make sure we’re accommodating him, but we prioritize our needs too, which means we’re not stressed out and he isn’t either. Since Colin is a business owner, his schedule is slightly flexible and my headspace is generally in a ‘not-a-big-deal’ mode when things have to get done.”
4) When you press pause on your career to be with your littles, enjoy it.
Illustrator Katy Dockrill put her career on hold until her daughter Maggie started school full-time in Grade 1, not because she wanted to, but because managing both was a big hurdle to leap. Now Maggie is nine years old and Katy feels like every day it’s getting easier to be a mom and be creative at the same time.
“I didn’t work at all for what seemed like two years. I needed to be there for Maggie because Jay [my partner] was working more than usual during her first year and we really couldn’t afford day care. If I did have time, I was tired. Because I’m thinking about this now, nine years later, I’m sad that I couldn’t just go with the flow. I wish I had enjoyed my time with my daughter more when she was younger, as much as I enjoy her now. I was so stressed out thinking about getting back to work that I didn’t enjoy all those days and hours enough with her.”
5) Whoever you depend on, don’t apologize for getting help.
Kathi Ziolkowski is a straight-up hustler with serious social graces who has been at the helm of her own creative agency for fourteen years. She represents photographers, videographers, social influencers and all walks of content creators and says she couldn’t have done it without hands-on help.
“It is not a luxury to have a nanny. They’re an extension of being a businesswoman. Why is everyone bashing Sophie Trudeau for having a nanny? She’s busy. She needs help and what’s wrong with that? My nanny Joy is a working mom too. She has two kids and all these years I’ve followed her example. She’s so focused and determined to give her kids a better life and she never bitches about it. I was never threatened by her because I knew I would not have been as happy or good at being at home with the kids when they were babies. My family lives in one unit of a triplex building that we bought years ago. Instead of renovating and taking up more space, we rent out the other units so we can afford to have her help and know that when my husband and I are home, 100% of our time and attention is with the kids.”
Juliette Baxter is the co-founder of Love, Emoem, a blog dedicated to career-loving mamas.