It doesn’t matter how long we’ve been working professionals or how many years we’ve been mothers … Being a working mother is sometimes akin to running a marathon while balancing two plates on your head.
As I head into my 17th year of teaching, my anxiety does not have to do with students, class preparation, workload, or burnout; it has to do with that challenging, rewarding, insane balance of being a full-time professional and being a mom to two young kids. I want to be an outstanding, unconditionally loving mother who is available in all ways. Yet, I also want to be a great teacher whose students know she’s dedicated. I’ve got the class preps completed; I’ve got the administrative pieces under control; I adore my students; I am surrounded by majestic mountains every which way I turn; and I work at a place with supportive, good people. Seems as though I should be able to jump in with complete ease, right? But a feeling of anxiety persists as the opening days of the academic year draw near. Why? Because, for the last 7 of my 17 years teaching, I have habitually felt a level of self-induced guilt every time I walk out the door to go pay attention to other people’s children. And as a perfectionistic professional, there is a tinge of guilt when I don’t have as much time to dedicate to certain tasks as my childless peers. Either way, I induce myself with the sense of not giving either one my absolute best, because so much energy is going to feeling the guilt.
But I am ready to shed the working-mom guilt. I am ready to find balance.
This is my vow to myself: When I am with my children and husband, I will make every effort to be mindful. When I’m with them, I will make every effort to truly be with them – to play hard, to embrace fully, to witness them wholly, to love them as completely as I can in every moment. And when I am at work, I will make every effort to be mindful. When I’m with students, I will make every effort to truly focus all of my energy on them in that moment, and to do so out of love and service. No multitasking, no worrying, no guilt.
One thing in the moment – whether it be family or work.