The Full Time Mother
I began a very significant project recently with the goal of empowering women everywhere. This project will be made up of a series, and the first installment of the series is the “Full Time Mother”. In this particular installment, I wanted to shed light on the mothers who have full-time careers, enjoy their careers, and want to further their careers.
We all know that mothers everywhere- regardless of working outside of the home or working within the home as a stay-at-home mom- get so much pressure to do something else. To be better somehow. “Don’t work- stay at home! … Don’t stay at home- contribute to the family!” I want to put a STOP to this stigma. Every mother works so hard for their children, and there is NO wrong way.
This installment is intended to bring light to the fact that not only is it okay to work, but it is completely acceptable to want to build careers and ENJOY IT! Working outside of the expectations placed upon you does not make you a bad mom!
This installment also focused on my mothers in the medical field. I asked these lovely women a few questions to gain their perspective. The questions I asked are below, and the inspiring responses I was able to receive follow underneath.
- A woman who inspires you –
- How do you balance working and being a mother?
- Do you feel there is or ever was pressure to be a stay at home mom versus pressure to be a career mom? How did/do you deal with that pressure?
- Do you deal with “mom guilt”, and if so- how do you balance these emotions? Would you change your circumstances if you were able to?
- Her mother and grandmother inspire her. Both cared deeply about prioritizing quality of life for J and her family. Her mom ran her own daycare for 25 years, and her grandmother emphasized education for J, as she did not have the opportunity to do so for herself.
- Her entrepreneurial spirit encouraged her to create her own business, be more in control of her time, and make higher wages in order to work less, as well as being able to enjoy the work she does. She also has her own healthcare-related podcast; Locumslounge, and her son is taking swim lessons!
- She has not felt pressure to be a stay at home mom or a career mom, but she has felt projected guilt and assumptions being made by her colleagues. She does not take it personally, because she believes that being a working mom shows her son and other women that it is possible to have a career and still take care of your family.
- There are times she would rather be home or playing with her son, but she understands the reality of life being that she cannot realistically take all the time she wants to just live how she would like to. She knows she has to work to create and maintain the life she wants for her family. She does feel mom guilt, but she sees it as a positive. She sees it as affirmation that she is not stagnant in her life and is being a productive person. She sees it as motivation to work harder in order to provide the best life she can for her family. She has goals to change aspects of how she earns her salary. For instance, she has goals to start her own business/practice. She would not trade her career, though. She worked hard to get to where she is, and she is proud to show her son that hard work and sacrifices do pay off.
- Her mom inspires her- despite their differing personalities. A describes her mom as the epitome of class and grace while displaying the utmost humility. She is a microbiologist with a PhD who worked at the CDC where she developed several patents for vaccinations that we use today!
- She does not feel balanced, but she tries to show her four sons that women are strong, powerful, driven, and worthy of the utmost respect as well as being a good provider and strong moral compass for them. Even though she cannot make every event, she does her utmost to make all time spent with her boys quality time and to be sure her children know they are supported.
- She felt no pressure to be a stay-at-home mom. In fact, her husband has been supportive of her career since she began training.
- She feels mom guilt daily. At times, she wishes she could be a stay-at-home mom- especially when her babies were younger, as she never wants to miss any pivotal milestones. Her youngest, and final, baby is now two, and she feels the time flying by and doesn’t want to miss a thing. A way that she helps create balance for herself is being sure to give herself time to have her own individual identity and purpose, therefore allowing herself to be a refreshed, better mom and not experience the burn-out that can stem from being immersed in childcare all day.
- Like many of the women, her mother was a strong influence to her. Outside of family, A’s mentor, Ann Marie M. Brown, had major influence over her career. A’s career has been a ride beginning in an interest in acupuncture, flowing into introduction to new devices and therapies overlapping with acupuncture, which led to her research in acupuncture and achieving government funding for said research. Her mentor recommended her to the Atlanta VA, and she became the Associate Vice Chair of Research, and when the Vice Chair leaves, she will assume that position. Notable quotes from her mentor include; “A, you are a star!” and “People are more successful if you do what makes you happy.”
- She finds balance in being able to be a mom and also pursue her research. She has a grant to study Fibromyalgia, Neuroimaging, basic tests of function, and Cranial Electric Stimulation. She loves what she does, and she would not change the fact that she has outside help that allows her to continue helping people while being a mother.
- She never saw herself as a stay-at-home mom. At one point, after her first daughter, she considered quitting her work due to the pressure of keeping up with her work through the sleepless nights with her baby, but then she received her grant. She then had the choices of opening her own acupuncture business or opening her own Yoga studio. She pursued acupuncture, and the rest is history.
- She feels tons of mom guilt. She feels like she is missing out, but her oldest openly supports her with pride, and her youngest is like “go on, mom! Bye!” (With love.) A feels better seeing her oldest daughter value and show pride in what she does, as she brags about her mom being a doctor to other people.
- “There are so many influential women in my life. I am blessed to have been surrounded by loving, intelligent, powerful, and independent women throughout my life. My Mother, Grandmother, Aunts and many cousins have shaped my identity and are a constant source of inspiration. I am tasked with the challenge of choosing just one, so I will tell you about my Aunt Gloria. Small in stature, under 5 feet tall and about 100lbs, she is a force to be reckoned with. My Aunt Gloria arrived to the United States as a Jamaican immigrant with a resolve to become a woman entrepreneur in 1960s New York City- a largely uncommon feat at that time. Arriving at 18 years old, in the hustle and bustle of the city with no family nearby, she had to very quickly learn self-sufficiency and the ability to build a sustainable business from scratch and in a new (and very cutthroat) environment. Her entrepreneurial path has defied the odds, to say the least. She worked full time as a “mother’s helper” (called a Governess at that time) while putting herself through beauty school. She worked in a Salon, then opened her first salon, and the rest is history. Her talent and work ethic continued to open doors and new opportunities for expansion and business growth. She has pioneered the beauty industry in New York City, offering customized services to an often neglected and overlooked clientele in need- individuals suffering from alopecia and other causes of hair loss refractory. Over her decades-long tenure as a fixture in the city, she has become the artist of choice for celebrities, often traveling hundreds of miles to see her. Starting from an origin story with very humble beginnings, her journey is one of perseverance and determination. Her salon is located in the much-coveted and world famous 5th avenue district (yes, THE 5th avenue…)- once a nearly impossible accomplishment for a woman of color. Equal to the magnitude of her wild success and unusual accomplishment is her largess, generosity and kindness. Aunt Gloria has had to overcome many challenges, biases and the doubting words of naysayers, yet she never ceased to forge ahead, and it has not changed her loving spirit and sweet demeaner. These are qualities I strive to emulate, and I am grateful to have her as a role model.” (I couldn’t bring myself to paraphrase this response. So powerful and so well said! -Morragan)
- The best way she can! Her approach varies from week to week, depending on what they have going on as a family. As an entrepreneur mom of a 3-year-old, she has found the approach that works for her is whatever works well for her family on that given day. A lot of it feels like planning as much as possible but trying to be flexible and flow with the changes that invariably present themselves each day.
- She has thankfully never felt external pressure to be a stay at home mom, and she feels fortunate to be surrounded by support and love from friends and family. However, there are days that she feels like she is not present enough- physically nor mentally- for her family, and that causes a lot of self-imposed pressure. She deals with it by constantly reassessing what is important and what can wait and making a conscious effort to have open dialogue with her family so there is constant communication about how they are all feeling. She is grateful to have a family who supports her ambition and endeavors.
- She wouldn’t trade her circumstances for anything in the world! She feels blessed beyond measure, and she has “the best family anyone could ask for.” Even with this, she definitely has mom guilt- some days more than others. She balances these emotions by trying to give herself grace, attempting to redirect those negative thoughts and focusing on all of the Mommy “wins” she has every day, as well as all of the lessons she is teaching her daughter by example as a woman leader in medicine and a mother. Also, she feels blessed to have a close group of lifelong friends who are also working moms, and she finds it extremely therapeutic to have honest conversations about mom guilt. It is very helpful to be able to speak candidly about the working mom guilt and challenges, without the worry of judgment, and with others who can relate.
A special thank you to these incredible women for participating in this project, as well as for all they have done and for all they will do.