By Jill Osborn
“You can’t have a career and be a mother.” I have heard this time and time again, even from people who love me dearly. But are they right? In this day and age, can mothers have it all?
Courtney Ronay says yes. She is a mother of two and entrepreneur of Southern Nest.com, where Ms. Ronay sells her wooden monograms. Some of her items were recently featured on the Today show. “These days, moms can absolutely have it all,” Courtney says. “We are a generation blessed to have the internet, a platform that allows us to basically ‘leave our home and connect with the outside world’ right from our home office and with a baby on our lap!”
I have to agree with Ms. Ronay. I have a three-year old who does not attend preschool, an eighteen-month old, and I also stay at home full-time. We go everywhere together. We also have a phenomenal playgroup that we claim is for the kids, but really it is an efficacious remedy for keeping each mother sane. Plus, my friends accept that most of the time I look like frumpty dumpty– a mother with no make-up and Einstein hair who, with all the kings horses and all the kings men, could not make this mother look pretty again. But each week, I do need to pull out the old hairdryer, mascara, and lipstick in order to look presentable for work.
Unlike Ms. Ronay, I do have to leave the house for an hour each week in order to conduct interviews for my newspaper column. I interview ordinary folks with extraordinary stories. Luckily, these are typically conducted during my husband’s lunch hour as he stays with the kids and I rush out to tackle the interview and rush home. Like Ms. Ronay, I can take advantage of writing from home and then emailing each story directly to my editor. I also published a compilation of my articles into an inspirational book. Granted, I worked on that at nights while the kids were asleep and sometimes resembled a zombie the following day. Recently, I have become a regular guest on a female power panel on “The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson” on FOX news in New York City. So every other month, my husband stays at home from work, I fly to New York for the day, feel like a star, and then return to my normalcy — saying, “Hooray” for using the potty.
So could you not say Ms. Ronay and I have the best of both worlds? In fairness, I am not living on the Upper East Side with a doorman in white gloves. I also do not receive a huge paycheck for my main job– motherhood. According to Salary.com, we should be collecting $113,586 a year for the services we render to my children. But until that check is delivered to the mailbox, there are a few factors that can help those who want to be a mom and have a career, too.
1 – Accept the fact that you are not always going to be able to do your work when you want to do it. We think we are in control of our children because we are bigger. What an exquisite hoax.
2 – Your office is your home and your home is one big playpen. Cleaning will quickly become a last priority when a deadline is approaching. Accept messy. (Now if only my husband could accept it, too…).
3 – You are your own boss. You must hold yourself accountable. But if you can keep a child alive, my suspicions are you can achieve your goals.
4 – Lists. Plan your day the night before. Keep a notepad in your car to write ideas down during soccer practice. Lists help keep us on track.
5 – Incorporate the hubby. Your husband has to be supportive because he will have to step up to help, especially on the weekends if he is off of work.
6 – When you have feelings of stress, anxiety, or thoughts of ‘I can’t do this,’ put your thumb and middle finger together while chanting in a low deep tone, ‘Oh why not, just do it.’
“I find the key for balancing,” Courtney says, “is to be a planner and to make the most time out of the child’s natural down times (like naps). I have held meetings and set up retail accounts during nap-time. Granted, I run around like a madwoman during those nap-times, but it is worth it. With discipline, planning, and delegating tasks, anyone can do it!”
At the end of the day, whether you are a stay-at-home mother, a working mother, or both, you determine your future. You determine if you fail. You determine if you succeed. It would be an act of sheer folly if we believed others knew our future. Mothers are very powerful beings and I, for one, believe in all of you.
For more on Jill, you can go to her blog: www.MuchAdoAboutMothering.com. Dr. Maya Angelou recently posted this on her Facebook page about Jill’s book: “I am very grateful to have been born with a positive attitude. My mother, grandmother and brother told me I was worth getting up and being resilient. In the family you are on the child’s side, you are their support. Recently, I had the pleasure of being interviewed for Jill Osborn’s book, An Ordinary Town: Extraordinary Neighbors. It is about a community that comes together and calls on the power of prayer. We are family. We are community. Continue.”