By Janice Johnson-Plumer
As I finally sit down after a day that I committed to doing nothing, this topic came across my mind. Nene Lekes, a housewife on Bravo’s ‘Real Housewives of Atlanta,’ has been quoted as saying, “I am just a hustler, I’m a grinder. I’m a worker bee.” This is a woman who is appearing on Broadway, started a clothing line, and is in constant demand for appearances. Economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett, CEO of Center for Talent Innovation and mother of four, thinks “women can have it all but maybe not all at the same time.” According to Hewlett, when women are in their early 20’s they should be looking for a mate and not worrying about their careers.
When I was just out of college I wouldn’t have listened if you told me that I was not going to have a career. I always said that I would wear Gucci shoes, and that I’d have a big desk and a chair that I would turn around like Alexis Carrington (remember the show Dynasty?) to let people know that I was a boss.
Now that I am older and supposedly wiser, I have come to the conclusion that family is important. My son is important. Being there for him is important. Yes, I would love the lucrative job where I am a leader who calls the shots. But when it is all said and done, I want to leave work at work. I don’t want to be available 24/7, especially when it interferes with my family time. Don’t get me wrong, I am a hustler and I can make a worker bee dizzy trying to keep up with me, but I know how to shut it off. I am a worker bee because I want to be a contributor to my household and when my son wants those $150 sneakers I can do it without batting an eye because I have earned extra money to do so.
I can look back on when my mother was raising me and appreciate all that she did for me, especially because she was able to spend time with me and be there when I came home from school. I had all the comforts of growing up and never knowing the wiser that my mother contributed what she could with part time jobs because all I could remember was that she was there.
But then we have the flip side of the coin from PepsiCo CEO, Indra Nooyi, who admitted how hard it is to get it right.
“I don’t think women can have it all. I just don’t think so. We pretend we have it all. We pretend we can have it all,” she said in an interview.
As mothers, are we just pretending to have it all when deep down we feel stressed out, overworked, unappreciated and just waiting for the day to be over with so we can rush home and throw on our pajamas? I know I can speak from personal experience when I say that I have been all of those things. Don’t get me wrong- I burn the candle at both ends. I work full time, do real estate part time, teach multiple spin classes a week, and I attend any community or school meetings that take place. Do I wish I could get off of this roller coaster? Absolutely! But how do you take a step back and get off the rollercoast, while still accomplishing everything you want to?
I think it all starts with us mothers taking care of ourselves. After all, if we don’t put our health first, who will? That is why I have elected to workout in the mornings while my husband is getting ready for work. It’s my time. It’s my sanctuary and it allows me to take care of my health. I have also adopted a healthier way of eating, and in turn I feel good! When you feel good, the little things don’t get you angry- like when you ask your kids a thousand times to pick up their room. Woosah!
In terms of mental well-being, I have learned to turn more into prayer and to try and just be still. I have a hard time being still, so I do it at odd times.
I look for the greater good in people rather than in things, especially material things. Those Louis Vuitton handbags will have to take a back seat until my son is old enough to supplement his sneaker fetish.
I also look for ways to give back. There’s something about giving back to others when we find fulfillment in our lives. I want to help women who may not have the opportunity to do it for themselves, whether it’s helping them to find a suit for a big interview or just having a day of beauty.
As you are running around asking yourself if this is all worth it? If it’s meaningful? If you’re making a difference for your children?
Let me know your thoughts.