How Do You Juggle Motherhood, Career and Marriage?
Overachiever moms are everywhere — they just don’t know it. Any mom who is juggling work and kids, who does well at her job, who is raising happy children and who spends some time each week taking care of her own needs is an overachiever mom.
She doesn’t have to look like she just walked out of a magazine shoot, have a high-profile career, have honor roll students, or live in a big house to be an overachiever mom. She doesn’t even have to believe she is doing a great job in any of her conflicting priorities — from parent to employee to spouse.
An overachiever mom is simply a mother who wants it all and is going for it, knowing every day she will come up short. She is doing far more than mothers did generations ago amid more guilt and mixed messages, and she should be celebrated and supported.
From car crashes to murders to snowstorms, I’ve covered thousands of stories as a television journalist. But I’ve yet to cover my most important disaster – the crisis that mothers everywhere are waging against themselves. The word that seems to sum it up is “OVERWHELMED.” I hear it everywhere, even from the moms who seem to have it all. They can’t keep up with it all. The pace of life in the 21st century is beyond our reach.
“I am doing it all. But I am doing it all half-ass,” says a mom business owner. “It’s too much. Things are falling through the cracks,” says a mom doctor. This is especially noticeable and stressful for those of us who are trying to maintain the elusive trifecta – Perfect Parent, Partner, Professional. I am doing this project for you — for all of the women out there who are doing everything in their power and beyond to give their kids their heart and soul, to share with their partners their secrets and passions, and to devote to their careers their smarts and savvy.
Can we really have it all? How do those seemingly successful, married moms seem to stay sane raising perfect kids with the help of their nurturing spouses while rising up the corporate ranks?
When you scratch the surface of the perfect female parent-partner-professional, you’ll find they have learned some key strategies and are living by some unique guidelines. But what’s one of the most critical insights you will find? They are not as perfect as we think.
I am a mother to a 16-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl. I have been with my husband for more than 15 years. I have been a television journalist even longer than that. And during all those years, I have been searching for specific help as a working, married mom that I can’t seem to find in one place. My girlfriends are too busy to share their secrets, and half the time they don’t even know themselves how they are pulling it all together. My parents offer guidance but can’t relate to my hectic lifestyle. My husband is compassionate and understanding, but honestly, he’s a man. He just doesn’t get it. The insights I seek are elusive. Nowhere do I see advice tailored just for me, the mom who also wants to keep my marriage and my career as healthy and successful as my kids – all at the same time.
I read incessantly about how to improve my life. There is an abundance of articles about how to raise happy and healthy kids, and I read as many as I can. But the advice doesn’t always fit my life, because I can’t make those organic kale chips while I’m still at work pulling a late shift. And there are tons of spicy stories about how to keep my marriage fresh and exciting, but those tidbits don’t necessarily work for two parents working different shifts. And I have listened to literally thousands of hours of books on tape about developing a thriving business, but I often feel they are talking to a man isolated in a quiet, clean office – not to a woman working from home amid the chaos of her cluttered house, loud children and constantly unfinished housework staring her in the face.
There seems to be nowhere I can turn to find out how to confront the day to day struggles faced by women who are balancing all three — kids, marriage, career. It’s a juggling act, with the balls falling to the ground on a regular basis. And that’s a fail, as my kids would say. So are we failing? We feel like we are. We need a voice out there to remind us that we are not.
"Parenthood in the 21st Century is not your mother’s experience."
I looked through the line-up of cable TV channels – about 700 of them – with niche networks focused on topics as narrow as fishing and cooking. And not one, NOT ONE, of them is devoted to the most important job in the world – Motherhood. Really? Yeah. If it wasn’t for mothers, our human race would cease to exist. Yet, nobody is devoting a media channel to mothers. Television shows that focus on an issue important to mothers often don’t take into account that many of the women raising children are also nurturing a career. No one tells us how to HAVE IT ALL AND STAY SANE. DOES THAT MAKE US CRAZY TO WANT IT ALL? IS THAT WHY WE FEEL LIKE LIFE IS CRAZY MOST DAYS?
It’s not just making US crazy. It’s going to make the next generation crazy too, because they’re watching us. Can we have it all without being crazed, overwhelmed, harried, frustrated, and disappointed in ourselves?
Women like us – we know what we want. We want to be successful in all three areas of life. And while doing it all, we want to look good and feel good. Not tired and run down and in need of a trip to the gym, the salon and the spa. We want our home and family to look good and feel good. Not cluttered and chaotic and sick and stressed. We know it’s possible. We see other women around us achieving it. But even if it seems like we are achieving it, we feel like failures. One of my best friends who seems to have it all feels like what she’s doing is never good enough. Is she a failure? Her clients know they can count on her. Her kids say “I love you!” to her every day. Her husband has stayed with her through thick and thin. How did she get that far? How can she get beyond the feeling that she must hide the fact that she’s winging it? How do any of us get there?
There is no single answer, no exact formula, no ending point. That’s because there are so many paths to grabbing that elusive trio and keeping a hold of it. Some do it by maintaining their career through part-time work or job-share. Some do it by running their own business from home. Some do it by working the opposite schedule as their husband. Some do it with the help of a stay-at-home dad or a work-from-home dad. Some do it with the help of their own parents or great child care. Some do it by earning or acquiring so much wealth, they can hire people to pick up the slack in so many areas – maids, tutors, chefs, chauffeurs, assistants, accountants, nannies, designers, etc. (Isn’t that what the rich and famous do?) There are as many paths to the successful trio of Parent-Partner-Professional as there are women trying to achieve it. All you need is the one that will work for you. I’ve spent more than a decade of my life studying how to do it all – taking in hundreds of articles and books about raising happy and healthy kids, about striving for career aspirations and running a successful business, about keeping a marriage fresh and lively yet deeply meaningful and long-lasting. And now I’m turning my study to the real-life female heroes living it. You will hear their stories – what they went through to hang on to all three threads that mean so much to them. When they doubted themselves, how did they get past it? You will see them living the dream – or really, on some days, the nightmare. We will be taking our cameras to their homes and showing how they succeed – and fail – every day. And then they get up the next day and do it all again.
Parenthood in the 21st Century is not your mother’s experience. It is profoundly different, especially for women balancing a meaningful career and modern marriage amid the pressures of trying to keep their kids away from the dangers lurking online, in our food ingredients, in the house of the sex offender down the street, and on and on. With more women in the workforce than ever – and more women in college than men – women balancing all three are the future of America. And we need to be sure the women of America are on track to succeed in all three areas.
We’re tired of articles that only address women who seem to be living in a vacuum – only discussing how to tackle a problem without considering the other two areas in our lives that constantly tug at our attention and keep us distracted and feeling out of balance. This project is focused on women who want to be successfully performing the non-intersecting roles of powerful career woman, loving wife and stay-at-home mom all at the same time. Impossible? No. One of the biggest challenges in the world? I think so. And you might too. And that’s why we want to give those women going for that brass ring all the help they need.
You don’t have to be a mom with a husband and career to support MomSub. Anyone can be an over achiever mom. Whether you are a mother on the verge of a breakdown because you can’t believe you missed the deadline for the piano recital because the sheet got buried under your stack of client folders, or you’re a women climbing the corporate ladder who never had kids, or you’re a single mom just starting in your career, or you’re a father who doesn’t understand why your wife is always irritable and tired, you can support this project through time, work money or promotion. Why bother? Either because you are a mother or you’re married to a mother or you know a mother or you appreciate your own mother.
MomSub is similar to a babysitting co-op, but you aren't limited to just a few people you know. It's great for moms who don't have family or many friends nearby or don't want to bother other parents with texts and emails trying to set up carpools, playdates and favors. It doesn't require you to do any organizing or planning. You can sign up for MomSub here and finally some stress can be lifted off your shoulders.