“Work like you don’t have a child, and mother like you don’t have a job” is the general message that all too many women receive when they enter postpartum in the United States. When the expectation is to exceed expectations, I have made it a priority to give myself permission to shirk externally placed expectations and trust myself and my instincts as both a mother and a professional. This has only been a possibility with a rock-solid foundation of support.
Contrary to what well intentioned relatives, friends, and strangers on the internet would have you believe, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for every family. There is only what aligns with your values, reality, and gut. I have found that what works the best for us is radical surrender to what today has in store. The very same moment I make a firm plan, a fever rises, a nap is skipped or the car breaks down. As my son grows older, I am constantly reevaluating my priorities and finding new ways to create a fulfilling life for both of us. The reality is that my son’s needs are continually changing, and so are mine.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned as a mother is the power of communication. Whether it’s with your partner, your support network, or your colleagues, having open and honest conversations about your needs and limitations can make a world of difference. It’s not about “having it all” or “doing it all”; it’s about being true to yourself and knowing that it’s necessary to ask for help. As mothers, we often feel like we have to wear many hats and be the perfect parent, partner, and professional. But the truth is, no one can do it all, and it’s essential to recognize our limits and set boundaries to protect our well-being. By taking care of ourselves, we are better equipped to care for our children and excel in our careers.
In this constantly evolving landscape, it can be hard to remember that we’re not alone. There are countless mothers who are navigating similar challenges and triumphs, and we can lean on each other when we feel lost and lift each other up when we feel secure. It’s essential to build a community and support network, whether that be through friends, family, or online spaces, where we can share our struggles, celebrate our successes, and uplift one another.
In the end, the journey of working and mothering is not about striving for perfection or even balance, but about embracing the beautiful messiness that life brings. It’s about recognizing that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed and that there will be days when things don’t go as planned. But it’s also about cherishing the small moments, the laughter, the hugs, and the memories that make it all worthwhile.
So, to all the parents out there, I say this: be kind to yourself, stay true to your values, and remember that you’re doing an incredible job. YOU get to decide what success looks like for you and your family.
Happy Mother’s Day.
You are so needed, appreciated, and loved. 🥰
Written by our own: Emily Campbell. Mom extraordinaire.
*Typed with love from my couch as my toddler and I ride out our 4th illness of 2023 and I fish a racecar out of my coffee.