Friday, March 15, 2013

The Juggling Act

Have any of you been following the hot online debate regarding working moms? The main dialogue has been in between Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, and Anne-Marie Slaughter, formerly the Director of Policy Planning for the state department.  As a working mom, the topic of the work/life balance is always of interest to me.  I'm always looking for a smarter/better/more efficient way to keep all the balls in the air!  If you haven't been up on the debates, you can catch up here and here.  Boy, are there some strong feelings on both sides of the fence!  A lot of bloggers have recently written about the work/life balance, and I thought I'd throw in my two cents.  I originally wrote a bit on the topic here.

I have been educating children with autism for the past ten years.  Long before marriage or children.  In 2009, I opened St. Dominic Savio Academy, a non-profit day school for children with autism.  Kemi and I got engaged the summer before the school opened (talk about a busy year!), so I knew going into it that I would be married, and God willing, be a mother.  I have always felt that marriage and family were my primary vocations and callings. And yet, I also feel deeply called to the work that I do with children, and find it very fulfilling. It was my intent in opening SDSA to first and foremost, create for the community a center for education that would respect the dignity of children with autism.  It was also my intent to create an atmosphere for our staff that would be uplifting, affirming, and challenging.  It is the opinion of Anne-Marie Slaughter that a woman cannot "have it all" unless she is self-employed, makes her own schedule, or comes from a privileged background.  Well, I don't come from a wealthy family by any means, but I think that, for our situation, the only way we can really make it work is because I have the great blessing to be my own boss. With leading a school, I don't have complete flexibility in my schedule, but I am so thankful to have a career in which I can make solutions as my family grows and changes, rather than being met with resistance from an employer.

One thing I took from reading Joanna's recent blog post was all the sacrifices working moms make. Can we really have it all? I don't know. Maybe not. There's only so many hours in the day.  Sacrifices have to be made. After Evie goes to bed at 7:30, for example, most nights involve me hitting my laptop with a glass of wine and working for the next few hours.  I also wake up every morning to a 5:30 alarm. I'd rather get in an extra hour of work in the early morning while Kemi and Evie are still sleeping, than miss an hour in the evening when I could be home with them.  And is it hard to get text invitations from stay-at-home mom friends to meet at the mall play area on a weekday while I'm at work? Yes, it's hard. I recently had a two week (yes, two week) depressive stint after being invited to a mommy and me baby music class. I mean, honestly. What? Evangeline is eleven months old! What's the difference if we shake, rattle, and roll to Off the Wall in the living room? But, I convinced myself that there WAS a difference, and Evie was going to be worse off for missing baby music class.  But, when I get down to it, I know my reasons for choosing this path, and I know I'm a better mom for it. It's what's best for me and my family, even when it's hard. I think all of us moms could stand to offer a little more understanding to one another. Every mom I know, working, stay-at-home, or somewhere in between, is juggling a lot.  We really need to support each other.  Being a mama is tough enough on it's own!

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