The first day of April brought a nice warm evening and I sat on our front porch with a cup of tea. Contentment. The kids fell asleep early (there is a God) and I felt a certain peace. With this moment to reflect I realized that in the four years since my first child was born, I’ve gotten the hang of this new job, Motherhood. It’s been so crazy learning the ropes, I’m just now feeling my groove.
Learning on the job of motherhood is overwhelming for all of us. One moment you’re a busy career woman, juggling multiple business priorities, and suddenly you find yourself an inexperienced mother juggling the minute tasks of caring for a new life. It’s the biggest career transition women experience and yet we get no training. None. Not one class, entry level position or tutored-for test prepared me for the most important role of my life. I was a newbie yet expected to succeed and thrive as a mother. The hurtling fall from experienced executive to floundering, deer-in-the-headlights mother caught me by shocking surprise. Within a heartbeat (literally) the identity and skills I had so carefully cultivated for myself over the years, were useless. Or were they?
Welcome to Mommy, Inc.
I’ve come to think of motherhood as the career change that thrust me into my new role at Mommy, Inc. In the first days and months of motherhood, I was lost. The baby books I poured over focused solely on my little one – not solutions for my overwhelming feelings of inadequacy and isolation. Yet, as I slowly developed a schedule for my days, a network of mothers, and a new identity; I realized that I was rebuilding systems and processes I had developed for my job. For example, I needed a specific time management system to keep track of play dates, activities, household operations, shopping, calls and tasks. I learned to proactively network to make friends for myself and my children. I wanted a philosophy and guidelines for managing childcare, housecleaning and other service personnel – in other words, outsourcing.
As the family has grown in size, so has my job managing household operations and infrastructure. As my children have grown in age, I’ve used the fine arts of negotiating and diplomacy to spare us as many battles as we’ve suffered. And, of course, I’ve drawn on every ounce of marketing and sales experience to pitch just about everything they need in their lives. (Would you like to try this yummy apple bread? Not, Try this healthy zucchini oatmeal bread made with applesauce.)
My growing proficiency at Mommy, Inc. gives me a feeling of mastery. It’s taken four years to figure out how to maneuver my new role and this new company. That’s about what it would take in a new job. But most other jobs don’t include a sweet hug and I love you at the end of the day.