I heard the clock tick as I wrangled my little boys out of their booster seats at the dining table. Unsuccessfully dodging their sticky fingers, a glob of yogurt landed on my shoulder. I made the quick decision not to change my blouse while I wiped at the stubborn goop across my top. My boys needed cleaning up and I needed cuddles with them before heading out to my evening meeting.
Showing up is what mattered most.
When my husband walked through the door, I bundled up in my winter gear, yogurt still on my shoulder, and hugged and kissed my family. A white blanket was falling from the sky covering everything in sight as I stepped outside. It was our first big snowfall. Winter in the Canadian prairies had arrived and the streets were covered in a heavy layer. That night it took me triple the time to make the snowy trek across the city. After the chaos that it took to get me there, I showed up and I rocked that meeting.
Getting to a place of accepting the mess on my blouse has been a journey; through moments of chaos that challenge me to grow, I’ve learned to embrace my new badge of honour.
Work-life integration recognizes that each of us is a whole person, whether in the workplace or at the dining table. To fully embrace this approach, we have to let down the smoke and mirrors, allowing our true selves to show up in all facets of our lives, yogurt stain on blouse and all.
When I ask other moms what strategies they’re using to cope with work-life stresses, I hear responses such as “I’m just working harder” or “In the past I worked longer.” When they hear themselves, these answers usually provoke the realization that they need new coping strategies to build work-life resiliency.
I will be the first to admit that a strategy I used for work-life stress before motherhood was to just work harder – if you can even call that a strategy. Today, I don’t try to do it all alone. I’ve learned that’s a recipe for feeling completely overwhelmed, stuck, and isolated.
It’s because of motherhood, not in spite of motherhood, that I’ve had the opportunity to build work-life resiliency.
Motherhood teaches us a whole new set of skills. Think of all the problem solving, coaching, clear instruction giving, expectation setting, and recognition for a job well done you give as you raise your children. Those are learned skills that we bring to our careers – whether we’re engaged in the work of raising a family or the work of a profession. Parenthood equips us with new career strengths.
In the chaos of raising young children, there’s an opportunity that forces us to discover what really matters with greater honesty. I’ve found new aspects of myself to be proud of whether I’m showing up at home or through my work.
I used to see myself as a professional woman who was going to be a strong mom. I believed that I had strength for the journey. But motherhood has taught me otherwise. Today, I know I am a woman of strength. I’ve learned that it’s the journey that makes me strong.
Meg Valdmanis-Miller is the founder of Shift Career Coaching, listed in The Mama Sagas Postpartum Directory. To view her directory listing, click here.
Meg is the founder of Shift Career Coaching. She holds an MA in Sociology and works as a Certified Career Strategist for Parents with over a decade of experience coaching professionals in career transitions, researching family & career trends, and creating career development education. In 2016 after navigating her career through pregnancy and becoming a mother, she founded Shift Career Coaching – an independent career practice focused on supporting parents in their careers. Located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, she’s raising her family as a proud mom of two. Meg uses her voice to transform the narrative on family & career and welcomes you to join her in building a community of support for today’s parents.