For 3 years now, I’ve wrestled with the painful struggle of working vs being a mother to my children. And lately, the poignancy was sharp enough to interrupt my normal workflow to write about it in my previous post.
Perhaps that last post was in subconscious anticipation for what was to come, because only days later I experienced a breakthrough in thought:
Maybe my greatest contribution to my children isn’t just as being a mother, a breast of milk, a comfort, an affirmation of their identity. But also as a role model.
Bear with me for a moment.
Maybe….. maayyyyybe this culture is a bit patriarchal in its demanding that women be with their children. Maybe the belief that women are best fulfilling their purpose by being in the home is just that: a belief, not a fact. A belief based on centuries of misogynist patriarchy. Maybe the belief that children are best served with their mothers around them constantly is just that, a belief. What about the fathers?
There is the argument of biology. We women have got the goods. And there is a very, very strong argument to be made for attachment, bonding, and constant presence of parents (both genders here BTW) in the early years of a baby. But after they are a bit older, where is the woman? Maybe we could be a bit more egalitarian in the responsibility of parenting with both genders in this society. And not just parents, but maybe we can move away from our isolationist tendencies and see the values of society in helping to raise our kids (gasp!).
I’ve been keeping my babies as close to me as I can for 3 years now. And when they aren’t with me, they are in the hands of caring, responsible adults with the training to give them what they need for physical, social, emotional, and intellectual growth. In a lot of ways, their preschool offers them many things I couldn’t as a mother and is therefore not just a childcare option but a good supplement to their overall growth and development.
Don’t get me wrong, my greatest desire is to be with my girls as much as possible. But if I’m not with them, I should never feel guilty. My actions with my children should not be motivated by guilt, only desire.
I’ve just briefly touched on this idea of moving the responsibility of parenting away from just the mother to the father and also to society. But there is also this big, big great thing that I’ve done for my girls: I’m a role model for them.
I just left a meeting in downtown Portland with one of our business advisers. She had several suggestions (as always), and in mentioning them she used the phrase, “You are a successful executive, you need to start treating yourself that way . . . You are way too valuable to this company to be bogged down with all these menial tasks.”
What have I done for 3 years? I have taught my children as a living example how to create success from nothing. How to build a company from the ground up. How to start with an idea and move it to a product and then to a working business model. How to be successful as a self-taught business-owner. How to maintain excellent customer service. How to treat those in business with me as fellow humans. How to never sacrifice quality, meaning, integrity, and values for the bottom line. And how to do all of this in a patriarchal society as a woman, mother, and WHILE literally pregnant and/or breastfeeding.
Profit isn’t everything. The heart matters. The heart is what has made our company successful, and the heart is what keeps my children close enough that they’ll be able to witness all of this and know that they, too are capable.