Mother’s Day recently passed and has me thinking a lot about the sacrifices my mom made to make sure I could achieve my goals. She was a hard-working professional who was incredibly strict and pushed me to my limits academically and personally. We butted heads a lot and while I wouldn’t say we were friends until much (much) later in my life I always knew that her goal was simple: to make sure that whatever I wanted to be I could be.
I hear a lot of people talk about the pressure that is put on working moms; how we cope, how we find balance, how do we live up to the expectations that are put on us by others and ourselves. I rationalize it like this when you see someone do something extraordinary you want to figure out how they did it. How can they run that fast? Jump that high? But it’s difficult to explain the superhuman power that’s packaged into a working mom so we give it broad stroke responses such as “Yeah, I can’t imagine how hard that is” and “It’s all about finding balance” and pat ourselves on the back for recognizing the hard work they do.
Recently I’ve been watching a video series on Facebook that centers around Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry, called Stephen Vs. and each episode is him versus something else (the game, the team, etc.) and the most recent episode is Stephen vs. Family. Now I’m not a huge basketball fan, but I absolutely love the relationship that Stephen and Ayesha Curry have – I mean it’s storybook love! In this episode, he was talking about how his wife’s career was really taking off and what that meant for their family and he made a comment about how it’s incredible to see someone who can be so emotionally in tune with so many different people and how draining that would be for him. This really stuck with me because at any given moment women are sensing (and expected to meet) the needs of their employees, customers, bosses, significant others and children, to be able to toggle back and forth between all those emotional needs of others leaves little time to be emotionally present for yourself. That drain is exactly why I think most moms don’t have a solid answer when asked how others can help them. Have you ever been alone and really thirsty but so tired that you physically couldn’t get up and go get something to drink? If that could be translated from physical to emotional then you’d know exactly what it feels like to be a working mom.
It’s not all negative though. So many times I feel like this struggle is presented in a “woe is me” way and while I know the struggle is hard, I also absolutely know that you’d be hard pressed to find a lot of working moms who would be satisfied if they felt they had to give something up. See the thing you can’t understand until you’ve done it is that the drain is what we crave. That feeling of giving your all to everything around you is what fills us up. I think back to my mom now and I know that without her enduring that drain there’s no way I would have had the opportunities I had to be what I want to be. So thanks mom for showing me that there is nothing that can stand in my way. For showing me that even when it feels like I have given all I can give, I still have a little more. For showing me how to teach my daughter that she can be anything she wants to be when she grows up.